A Google Group is an efficient way to communicate and collaborate with other people. If you’re a member of a properly configured group, you can send a message to the group’s email address, which will then be distributed to everyone in the group. Likewise, when you want to collaborate in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides, you can select the Share button and then add a Google group address (and adjust the permissions if you want) to give everyone in the group access.
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But joining a Google group can also come with some challenges. The amount of group messages can quickly clog your inbox. Saving and searching all the messages in your email can get a bit messy. And without the proper controls, people can add you to groups you’d rather not join. The following five tips can help you get the most out of Google Groups while minimizing the impact on your inbox and maintaining full control over your Google Groups memberships.
All of the steps below assume you’re opening Google Groups on https://groups.google.com while using a browser, such as Chrome, on a desktop or laptop computer.
Access all your Google group memberships
From the menu on the left, select My Groups, as shown in Image A, to view groups that you are a member of or own. If the menu items on the left are not displayed, select the three horizontal lines in the top left corner of the page.
The list shows the group name, the group’s email address, your membership date, and your subscription setting. On the right, additional icons may indicate the option to access group settings, add members, leave the group, or favorite the group. When displayed at a narrower browser width, you may need to select the three-dot menu to the right of each listed group to access these additional options.
Manage message delivery in Google Groups
You can choose the frequency with which you receive messages from each group. Select the dropdown in the Subscription column, as in Figure Band then choose one of four choices:
- Each Email – to receive each individual email sent to the group
- Digest – to bundle as many as 25 full messages in one email
- Abbreviated – to receive a daily email summarizing up to 150 messages
- No Email – to stay in the group but stop receiving email delivery of messages
The more often people email on lists, the more likely you’ll want to opt in to receiving summaries or condensed summaries. Otherwise, your inbox can quickly fill with messages from a group. However, the Digest or Abbreviated options mean you’ll rate the group conversations with a delay (ie daily), so if you often need to respond to information shared in a Google group, email may still be the best option. For groups where people rarely email, every email definitely makes sense.
Access all group messages
As a group member or owner, you can access all email messages sent to a group: Select the name of the group and the system will display all messages sent to the group, with the most recent message first, as shown in Figure C† Options at the bottom of the screen let you move to view older posts.
To find a post quickly, it may be easier to use the search box at the top of the screen. Select the triangle to the right of the search box to narrow your search by the person who posted the message, subject, keyword content, dates, or messages with attachments, as shown in Figure D†
You may notice that messages you send to the group, like email, don’t arrive in your own inbox. However, messages you’ve sent to the group will still show up when you open Google Group Messages on the web. If you’re not sure if your posts to a Google Group are getting through, check the web!
Control who you can add or invite to a group
Select the Settings gear in the top right corner, then choose General Settings from the menu. The first two boxes determine whether a group manager:
- Add me to their groups, or
- Invite me to their groups.
If both are checked, group admins can add or invite you to any group they want.
If you’d rather prevent group admins from adding you to groups without your intervention, I recommend that you disable the Add me to their groups option, but leave the Invite me to their groups option checked, as shown in Figure E†
These settings allow people to invite you to a group – and you must accept the invitation. Anyone trying to add you to a group should either change the one-way addition to an invite or otherwise contact you.
If someone wants to add you to their group, you can also temporarily enable the setting: check the box next to the “Add me to their groups” setting and let the group admin know so they can try to add you. Then, after confirming that you are a member of the group, deselect the setting again to prevent spurious group additions.
Remove yourself from a group
To the right of each listed group, the Exit Group icon, as shown in Figure F, looks like a left parenthesis and a right-pointing arrow. Select it and you will be prompted to select a Yes, Leave Group, or Cancel option.
However, if you are the sole owner of a Google group, you may not leave the group. To end participation in this situation, you can add another person as the owner of the group and then exit. You can also choose to delete the group completely.
What is your experience with Google Groups?
How often do you check your Google Groups memberships? What kind of subscription settings do you prefer? If you prefer fewer emails, do you tend to select the summary or abbreviated option? What general settings do you use for group additions and invitations? Let me know how you manage your Google Groups settings in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber†