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How to Create a Distribution List in Outlook for Office 365

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When it comes to utilizing Office 365 (now Microsoft 365), creating a distribution list in Outlook 365 is very important. Distribution lists let you send emails to contact groups in Outlook without having to send them individually. This is helpful for sending emails to a group of people in a department or at a larger organizational level.

Let us show you how to create and edit a distribution list in Outlook (Office 365) with our step-by-step guide.

What is a distribution list in Office 365?

A distribution list in Outlook (Office 365) is used to bundle email recipients into one single contact. Essentially, it lets you send mass emails to multiple recipients rather than having to send the same message to different contacts many times.

Creating a distribution list in Outlook 365 helps with time management, improves communication between team members, and ensures the right people get the right emails.

Any Office 365 user can create a group to be used as a distribution list in Outlook. However, they are typically created by global administrators in Exchange Online.

When you create a distribution list in Outlook for Office 365, you can do the following:

  • Allow members to add or remove themselves from a list
  • Mark a list as “unlisted” so it doesn’t show up when searched
  • Control who can send to the distribution list (all employees can send to this list by default)
  • Set up moderation rules so messages can be reviewed before being sent to the whole group
  • Ensure everyone gets the same email signature when building a template in Office 365

How to create a distribution list in Outlook Office 365

1. Launch the Outlook app launcher and navigate to the tab on the left of the screen.

2. Click on the People icon.

Click the People icon in Outlook 365

3. Click on New contact and select New group.

Click New Group to start creating your distribution list in Outlook for Office 365

4. A new window will open. You will need to give your contact group a name that is easy to remember and search for.

It is also recommended that you provide a description for your Office 365 distribution list. This lets people know what the purpose of the group is, e.g. All [Company] Users, [Company] Marketing, etc.

Your new distribution group in Outlook 365

5. Ensure the language for all notifications is correct. By default, this will be set to the language that your Office 365 tenancy is set to. Also, you can decide if members in your group will receive all group conversations in their inbox. Uncheck this box if you do not want this to happen.

6. When you’re done, click Create.

7. Now you need to add members to your distribution list in Outlook Office 365. In the Add members section, type the email addresses of the people you want to include.

8. Click Add when complete.

Add members to your distribution group

9. Now you’ll want to test everything is working correctly. Create a new email message and start typing the name of distribution group in the To: field.

You’ve now created your first distribution list in Outlook Office 365.

Inevitably, this list with change over time. You may want to add/remove members for example. Office/Outlook 365 lets you manage your distribution lists in a variety of different ways. It’s important to note that the person who created the distribution list is the one who owns it.

Adding distribution list members in Outlook Office 365

1. Login to Outlook (Office 365).

2. Click on Settings (the cog icon) in the top right.

3. Choose View all Outlook settings.

4. Under the General settings, choose Distribution groups.

5. Go to Distribution groups I own and click on the edit icon (pen).

Distribution groups I own option in Office 365

6. A new window will open. Go to the ownership section and click on the + icon.

Click the ownership option in Outlook 365

7. Select My Contacts to access your contacts list.

8. Use the + icon next to select members to add to your distribution list in Outlook 365. When you’re done, click Save.

Add members to your distribution group in Outlook for Office 365

Removing distribution list members in Outlook Office 365

1. Select Settings > View all Outlook settings > General > Distribution groups.

2. Click on the Edit option.

Click Edit under Distribution groups I own in Outlook 365

3. Navigate to ownership. In the *Owners: section, highlight the name you wish to remove.

4. Click the – (minus) icon to remove the owner from your distribution list.

Remove members from your Office 365 distribution list

Let distribution group members add or remove themselves

As the distribution group owner, you have the admin rights to let individual members decide whether they want to be part of your Outlook 365 distribution group or not.

1. Select Settings > View all Outlook settings > General.

2. Go to Distribution groups.

Click Edit under Distribution groups I own in Office 365

4. Click on membership approval. This will let you choose whether your approval is required to join this Office 365 distribution group.

Membership approval on your distribution list in Outlook 365

5. Choose one of the three options available:

  • Open – Anyone can join and leave the distribution group without admin approval.
  • Closed – A member can only be added by a group owner. Requests to join are rejected automatically with this option.
  • Owner approval – Group owners can approve or reject any member requests to join the distribution group.
Choose the membership approval option in Office 365

6. Click Save once you have chosen your desired option.

Change which email addresses can message the distribution group

If you want to ensure emails sent to your Office 365 distribution group remain private, this option lets admins decide who can and cannot send to group members.

1. Select Settings > Options > Groups.

2. Navigate to Distribution groups.

3. Click the pen icon under Distribution groups I own.

Click Edit under Distribution groups I own in Office (Outlook) 365

4. Go to the delivery management option on the left side of the new window.

Deliver management in Outlook 365

5. The default setting is that only senders within your company can send emails to your distribution group. If you want to add someone based outside your, you will need to ask your Global Admin to do this.

Click the + icon to access your contacts. You can then add users and groups to your list.

Add users and groups to Outlook 365 distribution group

6. Once you have added everyone, click Save. Any emails sent by people not on this distribution list with now be automatically rejected.

Create a MailTip for your Outlook distribution list

MailTips are messages that appear to users when they’re composing an email. When a new email is being written, Exchange analyzes the message content as well as the recipients. If a problem is detected, the user is given a MailTip notification before the email can be sent.

1. Select Settings > View all Outlook settings > General > Distribution groups.

2. Click the Edit icon under Distribution groups I own.

Click Edit under Distribution groups I own in Outlook (Office) 365

3. Navigate to the MailTip option.

Choose the mailtip option for your distribution list in Outlook 365

4. In the text box, create the MailTip to be displayed when people send emails to your distribution list in Outlook 365.

Text for the mailtip in Outlook for Office 365

5. When you’re happy with your MailTip content, click Save to apply it to your Outlook 365 distribution group.

Hide your Outlook distribution list from the shared address book

Sometimes it is not appropriate for everyone to see who is part of an Outlook (Office 365) distribution list. This is why you can prevent the distribution group’s membership from being displayed in the Outlook Global Address List.

1. Select Settings > View all Outlook settings > General > Distribution groups.

2. Go to the distribution group/s you own and click the Edit icon.

Click on edit under your distribution list in Outlook 365

3. Navigate to the general option.

The general option for a distribution list in Outlook 365

4. Check the box titled Hide this group from the shared address book. Then, click Save.

Create a moderated Office 365 distribution group

If you want to screen messages before they are sent to the entire group, you can set up moderation rules.

1. Select Settings > View all Outlook settings > General > Distribution groups.

2. Navigate to your distribution list and select Edit.

Click Edit under Distribution groups I own

3. Select the message approval option.

Choose the message approval option

4. Check the box titled Messages sent to this group have to be approved by a moderator.

Messages sent to this group have to be approved by a moderator

5. You can then choose group moderators for your list. Click the + icon under Group moderators: and add the appropriate contacts.

If a moderator is not selected, the distribution group owner will be the one to review and approve messages.

Add group moderators to your distribution list in Outlook for Office 365

6. You can also add senders that do not require any message approval by a moderator. This is done by choosing the + icon under Senders who don’t require message approval.

7. Click Save when complete.

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