Overview of Sharing Mail with Google Groups Collaborative Inboxes


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About groups

In Google Workspace for Education, Groups provide much of the same capability as a shared mailbox and overcome some of the limitations. Google refers to this as a collaborative inbox. In most cases, this is a better solution than a shared mailbox.

A faculty or staff member may request a Google Group, and then add others, including students in TERPmail, as members of the Group. The Group can be configured so that anyone may send to it, and the message would be distributed to all Group members. An advantage of this method is that each Group has a unique web interface where messages are organized into separate topic areas. There is also a mobile version of the interface which allows access to the Group mailbox on a mobile device.

A member can use the web interface to respond to the message as themselves or on behalf of the Group. In the latter case, the response comes from the Group address without identifying the individual who sent it.

Unfortunately, there is no automatic way to transfer historical mail from a Google mailbox to a Group's collaborative mailbox, so preserving the original mailbox will be necessary in order to preserve any old data.

A Group's email address cannot be the same as an existing address; the Shared Account would have to be deleted or renamed before the name could be re-used by a Group. However, the owner of a Shared Account can set it to forward mail to a Group, and the members of the Group can use the Group web interface to read and reply to the original sender on behalf the Group. This means that the address for a Shared Account can continue to receive mail and direct it to the Group, including students using TERPmail. In this case, we recommend naming the Group so that it is complementary to the Shared Account name. For instance, if the Shared Account is researchlab@umd.edu, then researchlab-students@umd.edu could be an appropriate name for the Group. Alternatively, the originally shared mailbox can be renamed (for instance, researchlab-old@umd.edu) and the Group is created with the original name.

There are many configuration options for Groups. The following settings are the main ones recommended when setting up a Group as described above:

Settings

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Permissions

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Information

For details, see Use a Group as a Collaborative Inbox.

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