Creating and modifying a distribution group in Office 365

A distribution list or group is a collection that includes two or more people who appear in your organization’s address book. A distribution group is a group of people that receive an email message. It sends the message to all members. A distribution group can be created and managed by an Office 365 administrator.

Both internal users (users who have a mailbox within your organization) and external users can join a distribution group. Only external users can join a group if they have been added to the organization’s address book (also known by shared contacts).

Why should distribution groups be used?

  • It is easy to send emails to many people at once with these tools.
  • They allow people within and outside of your organization to communicate more easily and facilitate collaboration. You can also specify who can send email from your organization to a distribution list. It is also possible to specify whether email can be sent by users other than your organization to a distribution list.
  • You can use a distribution group to send email to many users at once if you or someone from your organization sends email. This will ensure that you don’t send more than the maximum number of recipients for each message.

This article explains how an Office 365 administrator can create a distribution list in Office 365 and modify an existing distribution list.

How To Edit Distribution List in Office 365?

Register for your Office 365 Account

Sign in to Office 365.

  1. Open a web browser and, in the Address box, enter the following URL,

The Office 365 sign in page appears.

  1. Enter your username.
  2. Click Sign In.
  3. The Office 365 admin centre is available on the DASHBOARD.

Now you are signed in to Office 365. If you have administrator privileges you can proceed to create a distribution list.

Create a distribution group

Follow these steps to create a distribution team in Office 365

  1. Click the app launcher icon from your Office 365 dashboard and click Admin.

Click GROUPS from the left-hand navigation pane.

The GROUPS page is now open.

  • Click the GROUPS link to access the Setup distribution lists and other Exchange groups within the Exchange admin center link.

The Exchange admin centre opens in a new window, on the group page.

  • Click the Exchange admin centre to select Distribution Group.


This knowledge article does not cover the Security Group or Dynamic Distribution Group options.

Security group-Security Groups are used to restrict access to shared resources. Security groups allow you to assign permissions to security group members in the Active Directory and on resources. Security groups can be enabled to receive mail. If there is any new information in the folder the security group is protecting, everyone can be notified via email.

Dynamic Distribution Group – A dynamic distribution group’s membership is determined each time a message goes to it. This is based on the conditions and filters you set. A dynamic distribution group receives an email message when it is sent. It will be delivered to all recipients within the organization who match the criteria.

The new distribution page opens.

  1. You can complete the entries at New distribution group Page as follows:
    1. This is your name for the new distribution group. It is displayed in the address book, in the to: lines of email and on the GROUP page. It is necessary and should be easy to recognize.
    2. Alias– This alias is used for creating the group’s email address. The same name should be entered as the first part.
    3. Email address When you click in first box, it will auto-fill by default to match the alias. Select the second part from the drop-down menu in the second box. All members of the group will receive emails sent to this address.
    4. Notes is an optional field. A description is helpful to let people know the purpose of this distribution group. This description will appear on the group’s address book and on the contact card.
    5. Owners Distribution groups should have at least one owner responsible for managing them. The default setting is that the admin creating a group becomes the owner. Click the Add icon to add additional owners.


Outlook Web App allows owners to make changes to groups. Ownership of a group cannot be shared contacts. You can edit the owners list after you have created a distribution group.


i. To automatically add the identified owners to the distribution group, tick the box .
ii. Click the Add icon + to add members.


External users and internal users can be added to a distribution list. A distribution group can only be made up of external users who have been added to the organisation’s address list (also known by shared contacts).

  1. You can choose whether or not owner approval is required for the group to be joined – Click on the radio button that is appropriate:
    1. Open Anyone can join the group without approval from their owner.
    2. Closed All requests to join this group are automatically turned down
    3. Group owner approval All requests are reviewed and approved by the group owner.
  2. Select whether you wish to leave the group. Click the radio button.i. Open Anyone can leave this group without the owner’s approval.
    ii. Closed All requests to be removed from the group will be automatically denied.

The Exchange admin centre has been reopened with the newly created distribution groups listed.

Modifying distribution groups

An Office 365 administrator can make changes to a distribution group by using the Office 365 admin centre. Administrators must first locate the appropriate distribution group and then make necessary changes.

The distribution group owner may make changes to existing distribution groups using Outlook Web App settings. This is not covered in this article.

Finding the distribution group you need

Follow these steps to locate the distribution group which needs to be changed.

  1. Register for Office 365. Signing into your Office 365 account.
  2. Click the app launcher icon from your Office 365 dashboard and click Admin.

Click GROUPS from the left-hand navigation pane.

The GROUPS page is now open.

  • Click on the Search icon.

The Search textbox opens.

  • Enter the name or part of the distribution group you are interested in and hit Return.

These are the search results.

  • Check the box next to the distribution group you wish to join.

The right pane now displays Distribution List details.

Modifying distribution groups

An Office 365 administrator can modify a distribution list by accessing the Distribution List details page (see previous illustration).

These sections will explain how to modify the distribution group attributes.

  • Editing admins and members
  • Adding admins and members
  • Eliminating a distribution group
  • Allowing people from outside the organization to send an email to this group
  • Editing the group’s name
  • Editing the group email addresses
  • Editing Exchange properties in the group

Editing admins and members

Edit existing admin or member details:

  • Click EDIT MEMBERS and ADMINS from the right-hand pane.

The Distribution Group Details page opens. It displays a list with admins and members.


To see a list of admins, click on the Select drop-down and choose Admins.

  • Check the box next to the admin or member you require.

When a checkbox for members is checked, the following options will be displayed.


If the Admin checkbox has been ticked, then the GIVE option is replaced by REMOVE.

  • Click GIVE Admin Status to grant the member administrator status.

After a brief wait, the member’s role is changed to Administrator.

  • To remove a member of the distribution group
  • Click, REMOVE.

A warning message appears.

  • Click Yes.

After a brief wait, the member of the distribution group is removed.

Adding admins and members

You can add an admin or member to the distribution group by following these steps

  • Click ADD MEMBER or ADD DMIN as needed.

A new window will open containing a search box.


If ADMIN was clicked at Step 1, rather than ADD MEMBERS, then the same search box would open but the title, Add members…, would be replaced by Add new admins to the group…

  • Enter the name or part name of the new member you are looking for in the search box.

Below the search box, you will see search results.

  • Click the button to create a new member.

A select list contains the new member details.

  1. For each member who joins the distribution group, repeat Step 2 and 3.
  2. Click Add.

The distribution list is updated with the new member. A confirmation message is displayed.

  • To close the confirmation message, click Close

Delete a distribution group

To delete a distribution group, proceed as follows

  • Right hand pane of the Distribution List details page, click DELETE GROUP.

A warning message appears.

  • Click Yes.

After a brief wait, the distribution group will be deleted and cannot be used anymore.

Allow people from outside the organization to send an email to this group

  • Click the on/off switch to To allow people from outside your organization to send email to this group.

Edit group name

Edit the name of the distribution group.

  • Right hand pane of the Distribution List details page shows Group name Section. Click Edit.

The Edit page name appears.

  1. Modify the name of your distribution group in the Group Name text field.
  2. Click Save.

Changes made to the distribution group name

Edit email address

Edit the distribution group email address.

  • Right hand pane of the Distribution List details page shows Email address section. Click Edit.

The Edit page opens.

  • Modify your email address as needed.

You must select the second part of your email address from the drop-down menu.
All members of the group will receive emails sent to this address.

  • Click Save.

Changed the email address

Edit Exchange properties of the group

The Exchange properties allow for comprehensive changes to distribution group attributes. These changes are similar to those described previously in Creating. This section is a brief summary.

You can edit the Exchange properties of the distribution group by clicking here

Right hand pane of the Distribution List details page shows quick steps section. Click Edit Properties .

The Exchange Properties window opens from the General Page.

You can modify the General Page Display name, Alias and Email address as well as Notes.

You can also access additional Exchange property option pages by clicking on the headings in left-hand navigation pane. These are:

  • Ownership Add or Remove owners.
  • Membership Add or Remove members.
  • Membership approval You can choose whether or not owner approval is required in order to join, leave, or join the group.
  • Delivery management: Restrict who can send messages the distribution group.
  • Message approval– Identify a moderator to approve messages that are sent to the group. Identify people who are able to send messages to the group with or without moderator approval.
  • Email options: Set a default address for your reply.
  • MailTip Create a MailTip to show when people send emails to this group.
  • Group delegation – Set Send-As permissions, i.e. Send an email directly to this group or on behalf of it.


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