Participating in a Google Group

Google Groups is a feature of Google Apps that makes it easy to communicate and collaborate with groups of people—such as project teams, departments, office locations, and special-interest groups. There are multiple group types:

  • An open group is configured to grant you immediate membership.
  • A restricted group requires approval from an administrator before you are added to a group.
  • A private group requires you to click on a link to request membership from the owner.

Continue reading for instructions on how to participate in a Google Group.

  1. Joining a Google Group

  2. Leaving/Unsubscribing from a Google Group

  3. Reading & Responding to Google Group Posts

  4. Changing Your Google Group Membership Settings

  5. Additional Resources


Joining a Group

Groups usually have a name that indicates the subject of the group. To find and join a group:

  1. Open Google Groups.

  2. Press the My Groups button.

  3. Select “Switch organization view to:

  4. Next, click the Home button and this time press the Browse All button

  5. Click on a group name, such as "Live music." The Topics screen appears displaying a series of topics.

  6. If the group is a public group, click on the 'Join group' button. If the group is a restricted or private group, you can click the links “Apply for membership” or “Contact the owner”.

  7. Fill in the options on the Join Group dialog box.

  8. Click the Join this group button. You are now a member of the group.


Leaving a Group

You can stop receiving emails from a group by either leaving/unsubscribing the group, or changing your settings. If you unsubscribe from a group, you'll no longer be a member, and you'll stop receiving emails and lose the ability to view group messages. If you'd like to stay a member, but stop receiving emails, just change your email settings. 


You can Leave/Unsubscribe from a group using any of these steps:

  • Option 1: Reply to an email from the group with REMOVE ME as the subject of your message.

  • Option 2: Send an email to For example, if you want to leave the group “,” you can remove yourself by sending a blank email to

  • Option 3: Send a blank email (no text in the body of the message) with the subject line: "Unsubscribe" to the group's email address

  • Option 4: Edit your settings.

    1. Open Google Groups.

    2. Click My Groups > name of the group you want to edit.

    3. In the upper-right corner, click My Settings > Leave this group

Note: You can unsubscribe from most University Google Groups.  However, some groups are “no-opt-out” groups and University personnel and students may be subscribed to the group without their permission.  

Change your Email Settings

You can adjust your settings to receive group communications the way you prefer.  For example, you can be part of a group, but choose not to receive any email from the group.

  1. Open Google Groups.
  2. Click My Groups > name of the group you want to unsubscribe from.

  3. In the upper-right corner, click My Settings > Membership and email settings.

Membership and Email Settings.png

  1. From the drop-down for Email delivery preference, choose your preferred delivery option:

    1. Don’t send email updates (Note: you can open the group via and select the group to review messages)

    2. Send daily summaries

    3. Send combined updates (25 messages per email)

    4. Notify me for every new message


Read & Respond to Group Posts

As a Google Groups user, one of the first things you might want to do is read and respond to group posts. Depending on how a group is configured (and your personal settings), you will be able to read and respond to posts either through the web interface and (optionally) using email.  

Read and Respond to Posts Using the Web Interface
  1. Click on the 'My Groups' button on the Home screen. A list of all your subscribed groups appears.

  2. Click on a group name. The Topics screen appears with a list of all current topics. Notice that all of the unread posts for a topic are listed (in bold).

  3. Click on the topic you want to read. The first post in the topic (created when the topic was created) is displayed on top followed by all responses.

  4. Click on the Post reply arrows in the right corner by the time/date of the post.. A reply field appears with a formatting toolbar at the top.

  5. Tip: Click on the Post reply button (or the red Post Reply) in the first post to reply to the original topic creator. Click on Reply to Author under "More message options" to reply to the poster through private email. Click on Forward under "More message options" to forward the post to an email address.

  6. (optional) Click the Quote original link to display the original message below your response.

  7. Type your reply in the reply field.

  8. (optional) Format your reply using options in the formatting toolbar.

  9. Click the Post button to reply to that post.

Read and Respond to Posts Using Email
  1. Click on the email in your inbox to see the message from the group

  2. Type a response to the email.

  3. Select reply (to respond only to the poster) or reply to all (to respond to the whole group). The response is posted.

Note: This process assumes that you have "Email" checked in the "How do you want to read this group?" section of the my Membership settings (you are receiving an email for every post to the group), and that you are approved to send messages to the group.  Some groups are set up as distribution lists and only Group Managers can send messages to the group.  Other groups are discussion lists so all members can send messages to the groups.


Changing your Membership Settings

You can use your group membership settings to customize your name and email address in a group, whether or not you show your photo and a link to your Google profile, and how often you get email from the group.

Choose your Group Membership Settings
  1. Go to Google Groups

  2. Select My Groups in the top left corner

  3. Select the Group you want to edit and click on the My Settings icon in the top right corner.

    Membership and Email Settings.png

  4. Choose Membership and Settings. Pick your settings using the "Setting options and how to choose them" section of this article.

  5. In the lower left corner, click Save.

Setting Options and How to Choose Them
  • Change your name in the group: To the right of your name, click Edit and type your preferred name.

  • Hide or show your photo and a link to your Google profile in group posts:

    • To show your photo and profile, check the box next to "Link to my Google profile and show my photo on posts."

    • To hide your photo and profile, uncheck the box next to "Link to my Google profile and show my photo on posts."

  • Change your email address in the group: In the middle of the box, click on your email address  and from the drop-down, pick the email you want to use.

  • Choose how frequently you get email from the group: Click the drop-down menu on the line below your email address. You can choose any of the following options.

    • Don't send email updates: You won't get emails, but you can still see posts by logging in to Google Groups and clicking on that group.

    • Send daily summaries: On days when people post to the group, you'll only get one email that includes every message that was sent.

    • Send combined updates: You'll get one email for every 25 posts to the group.

    • Send me an email for every new message: You'll get an email anytime someone posts to the group.

Tip: If you post something and want to receive updates every time someone responds, check the box next to "Automatically subscribe me to email updates when I post to a topic."

Important: You won't be able to get daily summaries or combined updates if your group's messages aren't archived by Google Groups. But you can ask the owner of your group to change this setting using these instructions.


Additional Resources

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