Sun. Oct 1st, 2023
How to Create a Distribution List in Outlook

An outlook is a great tool for communicating with colleagues. You may have wanted to email the same group of people often, but their membership changes frequently. You may have to email all your customer service reps daily, but because of high turnover, it may change frequently.

Although you could manually enter each person’s email address or name every time you send an e-mail, this can quickly become tedious as the group grows. You also run the chance of forgetting someone, which can lead to workplace drama. This is where a contact list or distribution list comes in.

The terms “contact list” and “distribution lists” can be interchanged for the most part. Microsoft started using the term “contact group” because it is easier to remember than “distribution lists”.

There is a clear distinction between them in Microsoft 365-enabled organizations. Admins can convert Outlook distribution lists into “Groups” which gives group members access and permissions to shared libraries, and collaboration spaces, such as Yammer and Microsoft Teams.

Although your IT department may have control over the Outlook distribution lists for your company, including the often grueling and poorly maintained all-staff list – you can still create your own contact group in Outlook.

We’ll show you how to create a contact group in Outlook, both for the browser and desktop apps.

How to create a contact group in Outlook Online

It is simple to create a contact group using the browser version.

  1. If you are already logged in to Microsoft 365, log into your Outlook account or choose Outlook from the app launcher. You will see Outlook in your app list if you select All Apps.
  2. Select New Group from the left pane.
  3. Give your group a name, and description, and click Create. If your organization allows it, you may be asked to create an email address. For ease of use, make sure the email address matches the group name.
  4. Add members to the group now. You can search for people either by name or email address. Click on the search result that you wish to add to your group. They’ll be listed under “This person will also be added.”
  5. Continue repeating step 4 until everyone is added to the group. Next, click the Add link.
  6. Close
  7. Select New message to send an email to the group that you have created.
  8. Start typing in the to field the name of your group and then select it from the list.

It’s easy. What if you have to add or subtract people from the group? Continue reading.

How to edit a contact group in Outlook Online

Microsoft makes it simple to manage a contact list without leaving Outlook Online. You might need to modify some steps depending on how Microsoft 365 is configured in your organization, but these steps should be sufficient.

  1. Select the group that you wish to edit in the left pane.
  2. Select the More icon (three dots/ellipsis).
  3. Select Settings. Depending on the configuration of Outlook for your organization, you may see the option to Add members directly from The More icon.
  4. Select Edit group in the Group Settings panel.
  5. Select the Members tab.
  6. You can then add or remove members from the group by clicking the X icon beside the entry.
  7. Select the Add option if you have already added members to your group. Alternately, select Close.

Another way to edit Outlook Online contact groups

Depending on the configuration of Outlook, you might be able edit contact groups using these steps:

  1. To the right of your Calendar icon, go to the People section of Outlook.
  2. To display the groups that you have created, click the Owner link in the left pane of the Groups section.
  3. Choose the group that you wish to edit from this list.
  4. Select Manage members.
  5. You can then add or remove members by clicking the X button next to an entry.

How to create a contact group in Outlook’s Desktop app

It is much easier to create a contact group using Outlook desktop than in Outlook online.

  1. Open Outlook and click the People button in the lower-left corner. This is where you can switch between email and tasks as well as people and calendar.
  2. Next, click on the toolbar and select New Contact Group. If your company uses Microsoft 365, you might also see a New Group option. To facilitate group email, we will use New Contact Group.
  3. The Contact Group window will open. Give your group a name and then choose Add Members. Choose where you want your new members to come from. You might choose From Outlook contactsFrom Address Book or New email contact.
  4. Search for the people that you wish to add to your contact group one at a time. To add them, make sure they are highlighted and click the Members button or double-click their entry. After you are done, click OK.
  5. Close the window and respond Yes when prompted to save your changes.
  6. When you address an email, you will be able to enter the name of your contact group in the To field. Your contact group will now be added. Outlook can be expanded to include more members. You will not be allowed to collapse the list again.

Contact groups are listed as entries in Outlook’s address book. You can find them in this alphabetized list.

How to edit a contact group in Outlook’s desktop app

Let’s now edit an existing contact list in Outlook desktop.

  1. Start Outlook and click the People button in the lower-left corner.
  2. Select the group that you wish to edit from your contact list.
  3. Select Edit from the right pane. This will take you back to the place where you can manage your group by adding or removing members.

It doesn’t matter if you use the online version or the desktop app of Outlook, it’s worth taking a few minutes and creating Outlook distribution lists that you will use often. It will be a great decision.


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