Set organization-wide policies for using groups

Use Groups for Business sharing settings

Requires turning on Groups for Business.


As a Groups administrator, you can set organization-wide options that control who can access, create, and participate in groups at your users’ Google Groups app. For example, you might decide that only admins can create groups, but users can view messages and post. Or you might let users or even external customers create and manage groups. 

No matter what option you select here, group addresses still appear as suggestions when typing addresses in Gmail or Calendar invitations.

What admins can control

These options set organization-wide defaults and available options for group owners, at groups.google.com. Based on options you choose here, owners can also set group-level settings.

Admins are group owners: No matter what settings you choose here, as a Groups admin you have owner privileges for all groups in your organization, even ones you didn’t create. You can do anything with a group that a group owner can do.

Links go to details below on which setting to use.

Organization-wide policy Options
Who can access groups
 
  • Internal users only 
  • Anyone on the web (the public)
Who can create groups
  • Admins only
  • Internal users
  • Anyone on the web (the public) *
External members
  • Are allowed
  • Are not allowed
Incoming emails from outside the organization
  • Are allowed
  • Are not allowed
Who can view conversations
(default permission that group owners can change for a group)
  • Group owners only (includes admins)
  • Owners and managers
  • All group members
  • All internal users
  • Anyone on the web (the public) *

Can groups be hidden from non-members

  • Yes, the owner can hide a group
  • No, all groups are visible—to internal users, or also to the public (based on your setting for who can access groups (above)

* Public settings are available only if you allow public access to groups, in the first setting listed above.

Step 1: Open sharing options

First, access sharing options.

Using the Admin console

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGroups for Business.
  3. Click Sharing settings.
  4. Continue below to apply settings.

Step 2: Apply your settings

Next, select your preferences. Also see below for help with common scenarios.

Accessing groups from outside this organization

Your options for controlling external access to your groups are:

  • Public on the Internet—Anyone inside or outside your organization can view the list of groups in your Google Groups directory. Depending on a group’s settings, people can:
    • View the group's information page, including its conversation history (archive).
    • Manage their subscriptions to the group.
    • Post messages to the group.
  • Private—Only people in your organization can access your organization's groups in Google Groups. External members, if allowed, can access groups by email only.
Creating groups
Option Description
Only organization admins can create groups Any administrator in your organization can create groups. 
Anyone in the organization can create groups Users in your organization can create groups.
Anyone on the internet can create groups Users in your organization and anyone on the web can create groups. This setting is available if the organization-wide group access option is set to public.
Can external users participate in groups

Your options for allowing external users to interact with your groups are:

  • Group owners can allow external members—Group owners can add members outside of your organization to their groups and can allow them to join their groups.
  • Group owners can allow incoming email from outside the organization—Group owners can allow people outside your organization to send email to their groups.

Selecting these options doesn’t set them as a default or mean owners must give these permissions. Leaving the options unchecked means that group owners cannot allow external group members or emails.

Default for permission to view conversations

You can set the default for who can view conversations in your organization’s groups. Other default settings are derived from this setting, like Who can post and Who can view members. Group owners and managers can change the default setting for any individual group.

This setting is not available for groups created in the Admin console or Google Cloud Console.

Option Who can view conversations
Owners only Only people with the owner role
Owners and managers Only people with the owner or manager role
All group members Anyone with the member role

(If you set the organization-wide group access setting to private, external group members, if allowed, can only view conversations by email.)

All organization users Anyone in your organization, regardless of whether they’re group members
Anyone on the internet Anyone, including people outside your organization

Setting the organization-wide group access setting to private:

  • Automatically disables this option
  • Changes this option (if selected) to All organization users
Can a group be hidden from non-members

Group visibility settings determine whether group owners can hide a group from your organization’s directory. If so, you can also choose whether new groups are hidden by default.

No matter what you set here, group members can always see the groups they belong to in the directory. Group admins see all groups in the directory.

Group owners can hide groups from the directory
  • Checked—Group owners can choose to let only members view a group in the directory.
    This also enables the Hide newly created groups from the directory option.
  • Unchecked—All internal users can view all your organization’s groups. If you allow public access to groups, anyone on the internet can see your groups, too. 
Hide newly created groups from the directory

This setting is available only if you check the setting above.

  • Checked—By default, only members see new groups. However, group owners can opt to show a group to non-members. Non-members include all internal users, and if you allow public access to groups, anyone on the internet, too.
  • Unchecked—By default, all internal users see new groups. If you allow public access to groups, anyone on the internet sees new groups, too. However, group owners can opt to let only members see a group.

Settings for common scenarios

Here's how to combine settings for the following scenarios.

Keep your organization’s groups completely private

For maximum privacy for your groups, use these settings:

Setting Option
Accessing groups from outside this organization Private
Group owners can allow external members Unchecked
Group owners can allow incoming email from outside the organization Unchecked
Group owners can hide groups from the directory
Hide newly created groups from the directory
Allow external members or emails in private groups

Use this table to see what happens if you set the organization-wide group access setting to private and choose either or both external user options:

Group owners can allow external members Group owners can allow incoming email from outside the organization Result
Both organization and external users can become group members and post messages to the group. External members can post by email only.
  Both organization and external users can become group members, but only organization members can post messages to the group.

Example: A feature testing group where you want external members to receive messages from the group but only provide feedback through specific channels, not through the group

  Only organization users can become group members, but both organization and external users can post messages to the group. External users can post by email only and can’t view messages from the group.

Example: A customer support team group where you want external users to be able to submit messages but not see the group content

Allow public access to your groups

Allow people outside your organization to access your groups.

Note: A group’s members list isn’t displayed in calendar invitations that external users create, unless you change the group’s access level settings.

Setting Option
Accessing groups from outside this organization Public on the internet
Group owners can allow external members
Group owners can allow incoming email from outside the organization

Change your settings

Changing sharing settings has different effects, depending on the setting.

Accessing groups

If you change the Accessing groups from outside this organization setting, the change affects new and existing groups. If you change the access from public to private and any existing groups have external members, those members can:

  • No longer access their groups in Google Groups, regardless of the group settings
  • Still send email to and receive email from their groups, depending on the group settings
Creating groups

If you change the Creating groups option from anyone in the organization or anyone on the web to only allow admins to create groups:

  • Existing user-created groups remain active.
  • Messages can still be sent to user-created groups.
Other settings

If you change any other setting, the change affects only groups created in the future, not existing groups.

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