Google Apps - Contact Groups vs Google Groups Intro

Google Groups vs Contact Groups

One of the most confusing items for new Google users is the concept of groups...I say this as I feel I am pretty savvy, but it took a lot more reading and experiencing than normal before I got my head wrapped around it and could explain it to others.  I've decided this is because Google uses the term groups in multiple ways within its products, so just talking about a group is a little misleading as it might not be the group you are thinking about.

So, here's a little rundown of the two types of groups you as a user may be using.

Google Groups
Google Groups are a bit like a listserv. They are a mechanism for you to create a group that is managed by a group owner and shared with others.   Here are some key points about a Google Group:
  • a Google Group has a unique email address - when you mail the group it is using this single email and upon receipt it is dispersed to the group in the manner each user has designated
  • Group members only have access to the information granted by the group owners - including group members and email addresses
  • Groups members individually decide how they receive their email - in a digest, or one email per group posting
  • ​Group messages are archived so they can be referred back to at a later date
Contact Groups
Contact groups are just contacts that you group together with a common label (remember - Google is a search engine so everything is a label, you don't actually move anything).  Here are some key points about a Contact Group:

  • Contact groups are only accessible to the person creating them
  • Contact groups can be shared with others via an export and import, but they are not shared - they become two distinct groups controlled just by the individual users (changes made in one don't reflect in the other)
  • When using a contact group in your email, it will insert all individual group member emails - so you are sending multiple emails, not one
  • Everyone gets an email when a contact group is used - there is no end user control
Hopefully this helps you gain some understanding about these two different types of groups.  They each have distinct purposes, but you might want to consider each time - which group is best for what you want?

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