Types of Groups


Managing Microsoft Groups
Types of Groups
Types of Groups

In this course, I am going to take you through managing groups in Microsoft 365. 

Learning Objectives

  • The various types of groups available in Microsoft 365 and their differences
  • How to create groups within Microsoft 365
  • How to manage groups you create within Microsoft 365

Intended Audience

  • Users looking to learn about Managing Microsoft Groups


  • Have a basic understanding of Microsoft 365

Groups can be created for a variety of reasons and are used to manage a group of users. This makes managing users much quicker than manually managing permissions or options for individual users by allowing organizations to create multiple groups for different purposes. Within Microsoft 365, there are five different types of groups, and they are Distribution Groups, Security Groups, Mail-Enabled Security Groups, Dynamic Distribution Groups, and Microsoft 365 Groups. Starting off, we have distribution groups. Many will likely be familiar with the term distribution list. A distribution group is similar in that these groups are created for the sole purpose of sending an email to a large amount of users. 

When an email is sent to a distribution group, then all users that are a part of that group will receive the email. Where a distribution list can be created by an individual and shared, a distribution group has functionality within the Microsoft 365 tenant. Essentially, it creates a unique address that anyone within the tenant can utilize in order to send an email to that group of users within the tenant. The next group is a security group. A security group's main purpose is to assign users within the group permissions. These permissions can be things like access to certain folders or OneDrive and SharePoint access.

A security group does not have the capabilities to send an email and is only used to provide permissions to large groups of users. Next up, we have a mail-enabled security group. If a security group manages permissions, a mail-enabled security group adds in mail capabilities. Essentially, it takes the distribution group and security group capabilities and puts them together, meaning that this group can be used to both send emails to group of users and allows for the management of permissions to the same group of users. Next we have the dynamic distribution group. You may have an idea of this based upon the name, but this group is similar to that of a distribution group in terms of capabilities. However, it has one specific difference in that its membership is dynamic. While a distribution group has a set member list, a dynamic distribution group's member list is updated every time a message is sent to that group. It dynamically changes based on filters that you can predefine and automatically calculates with each message sent. This type of group is the only group of the five that is only accessible through the exchange admin center.

The benefit to this is that organizations will not need to spend excess amounts of time continually adding and removing individuals from groups and can instead set filters and automatically adjust the group's members. And finally, we have the Microsoft 365 group. Understanding the previous types of groups is important since Microsoft 365 groups add additional features which may or may not be needed given each use case. They are usually the recommended group type for organizations as they combine the capabilities of the distribution group with additional collaboration features. For example, every Microsoft 365 group has a shared outlook inbox, a shared calendar, a SharePoint document library, a planner, a Power BI, and depending upon where the group was created, it may also have either a Yammer, a Team, or a Roadmap. Microsoft 365 groups are able to be used in both a cloud-only or a hybrid scenario. Depending on your organization's model, this changes how you would manage your Microsoft 365 groups.

Cloud-only offers more options for management allowing creation and management of Microsoft 365 groups, utilizing the Microsoft 365 admin center, PowerShell, or the Azure AD admin center. In the hybrid scenario, this varies. For example, an on-premises AD DS synced with Microsoft 365 requires you to use the on-premises AD DS tools to manage the groups. However, you can also create a group managed with Azure AD, which would be separate from your on-premises AD DS groups allowing these groups to be managed by the Microsoft 365 admin center, PowerShell, and the Azure AD admin center. Let's now take a look at how to create and manage groups in the Microsoft 365 environment.


About the Author
Learning Paths

Lee has spent most of his professional career learning as much as he could about PC hardware and software while working as a PC technician with Microsoft. Once covid hit, he moved into a customer training role with the goal to get as many people prepared for remote work as possible using Microsoft 365. Being both Microsoft 365 certified and a self-proclaimed Microsoft Teams expert, Lee continues to expand his knowledge by working through the wide range of Microsoft certifications.