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Office 365 Groups: Create and Manage Groups for Collaboration. Do you want to effectively create and manage Office 365 Groups for collaboration among team members? Read on to discover practical tips for effective Office 365 Groups creation and management, helping you improve team collaboration and productivity.

First, we explain the types of groups you create in Microsoft 365. Additionally, we highlight their features, and differences, and give examples of scenarios where each group is useful.

In summary, this article provides a comprehensive guide on Office 365 Groups. It also includes sections on creating and managing groups using Microsoft 365, Azure AD Portal, and PowerShell.

We use Office 365 and Microsoft 365 interchangeably in this article to refer to the same product.

Create and Manage Office 365 Groups for Effective Collaboration

Both, Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory support 5 types of groups. Create Microsoft 365 or Security groups through various methods (Microsoft 365 or Azure Active Directory portals or PowerShell).

In addition, Microsoft 365 portal lets you create a Shared Mailbox, which operates like a group, and a Mail-enabled Security Group. However, Dynamic Distribution Groups is only created through the Azure AD portal or PowerShell.

The rest of the article explores each Office 365 group, its features, and scenarios in which they are helpful. We also provide instructions on creating these groups using Microsoft 365, Azure AD portal, and PowerShell.

Microsoft 365 Groups

Microsoft 365 groups are the most robust. This is why Microsoft recommends using this group type.

Internal and external users can collaborate. Here, group owners add external users (users outside the organization) as members.

However, an admin must enable this feature before you add users outside your organization.

Moreover, Microsoft 365 groups are mail enabled and support dynamic membership in Azure Active Directory.

Furthermore, a Microsoft 365 Group offers group members a group email, collaboration including file and calendar sharing.

The email collaboration capabilities are impressive, from enabling the group to receive emails from external senders. Moreover, group members “send as” or “send on behalf of” the group email address. However, an admin must enable this feature.

Finally, add Microsoft 365 Groups as Members, Owners, or Visitors to SharePoint groups. Adding a Microsoft group to a SharePoint group grants members access to the SharePoint site.

Distribution Groups

While you create and manage Office 365 Distribution groups, there are significant differences in their collaboration capabilities. For instance, a Distribution group is only used for broadcasting information to a group of people.

On the other hand, a Microsoft 365 group has all the features outlined in the previous subsection and significantly enhances team collaboration.

Dynamic Distribution Groups

Dynamic Distribution Groups (DDGs) perform the same function as conventional Distribution groups. However, DDGs have the added ability to automatically update group membership based on conditions and filters.

When creating a DDG in the Exchange Admin center or through PowerShell, you specify the type of recipients that will be members. Specifically, select the type of recipients that will be group members based on the following conditions:

1. Users with Exchange mailboxes.
2. Mail users with external email addresses.
3. Resource mailboxes.
4. Mail contacts with external email addresses.
5. Mail-enabled groups.

In addition, add rules to Dynamic Distribution Groups based on custom attributes such as State or Province, Company, Department, or other filters. DDGs is only created in the Exchange Admin portal, but PowerShell is also used to create them.

Security Groups

Security groups aim to ease the access to resources across Microsoft 365 services. This type of Office 365 group have users and devices as members. 

Use Azure Active Directory or PowerShell to configure dynamic membership for security groups. This implies that a security group has static or dynamic memberships.

When you make a security group dynamic, set the membership to be updated based on user property like location or device property like Operating Systems.  Finally, you cannot add Microsoft 365 groups as members of security groups.

Mail-enabled Security Groups

A mail-enabled security group provides an additional benefit compared to a regular security group: members receive emails using the group email address. However, unlike regular security groups, you cannot manage the membership of a mail-enabled group dynamically. Additionally, since members receive emails, you cannot add devices as members.

In summary, while both types of security groups assign permissions to Microsoft 365 resources, mail-enabled security groups have limitations that regular security groups do not.

These include the inability to add devices or manage memberships dynamically via Azure AD or PowerShell.

Shared Mailboxes

A Shared Mailbox offers a unique feature- all members access emails sent to the mailbox using the same email address. Ideal for company reception desks, helpdesks, or support desks where multiple people need to send, receive, and reply to emails from the same address.

Additionally, members of a shared mailbox reply or send emails from the mailbox’s email address, further enhancing its usefulness. Admins also enable a Shared mailbox to receive emails from external sources and set up automatic replies, forwarding, or aliases.

Finally, access to a shared mailbox is granted from any of the applications shown in the screenshot below.

Method 1 of 3: Create and Manage Office 365 Groups for Collaboration

With Microsoft 365 or Exchange Admin Portal

Method 1 of 3 covers different procedures for creating and managing Office 365 groups to enhance collaboration, utilizing the Microsoft 365 and Exchange Admin portals.

Create Office 365 Groups in Microsoft 365 or Exchange Admin Portal

To create Microsoft 365 groups using the Microsoft 365 portal, sign in at admin.microsoft.com. Alternatively, sign at admin.exchange.microsoft.com to use the Exchange Online admin portal. 

After signing in, follow the steps below:

1. To access your teams and groups in Microsoft 365, you expand the “Teams & groups” menu on the portal and click on “Active teams & groups.” Alternatively, expand the “Recipients” menu on the Exchange Online portal and click on “Groups.”

2. To create a new group in Microsoft 365 or Exchange Online, click “Add a group” and then select the type of group you want to create on the “Choose a group type” page.

As shown in the screenshots, both portals allow you to create similar types of groups with two exceptions: firstly, Dynamic distribution groups is created in the Exchange Online portal but not in the Microsoft 365 portal.

Secondly, the Microsoft 365 porta creates Security groups while the Exchange Online portal cannot.

3. To complete the group creation process, choose a group type and, follow the workflow. 

Modify or Delete Office 365 Groups in Microsoft 365 or Exchange Admin Portal

To foster collaboration among team members, organizations must actively create and manage Office 365 Groups. Admins create and manage these groups( editing details, adding or removing members, and modifying settings).

Admins perform these jobs in the Microsoft 365 and Exchange Online portals to manage Microsoft 365, Distribution, and Mail-enabled groups. However, the Exchange Online portal specifically handles Dynamic Distribution groups, while Security groups are managed through the Microsoft 365 admin center.

Additionally, collaboration admins utilize Azure AD portal and PowerShell to create and manage certain Office 365 groups. 

To use the Microsoft 365 admin portal to manage groups, sign in to admin.microsoft.com. After signing in, on the menu, expand “Teams & groups.”

Finally, click “Active teams & groups” and select the group type you want to edit. Alternatively, once you’re on the “Active teams & groups” page, use the search functionality. 

After clicking on a group, edit group info in the General tab and add or remove members in the Members tab. Additionally,  modify the group settings using the Settings tab or initiate its deletion by clicking the delete icon.

If you prefer the Exchange Online admin portal or need to manage a Dynamic distribution list group, start by signing in to ExchangeOnline. Then, navigate to Recipients -> Groups and click on the group category tab.

Finally, select the desired group to proceed with editing or deletion.

Create, Modify, Delete Shared Mailboxes in Microsoft 365 or Exchange Admin Portal

Administering Office 365 collaboration includes creating and editing shared mailboxes, in addition to managing groups. To create or edit shared mailboxes, go to Recipients -> Mailboxes in the ExchangeOnline admin center.

Create a new shared mailbox on the Mailboxes page by selecting “+Add a shared mailbox.” To edit an existing mailbox, click on it.

Microsoft 365 admin Center offers the option to manage shared mailboxes. To make use of this functionality, navigate to the “Teams & groups” menu and select “Shared mailboxes.”

Export Office 365 Groups or Shared Mailboxes in Microsoft 365 or Exchange Admin Portal

You can export Office 365 Groups or shared mailboxes for data backup, compliance requirements, migration to a different platform, or analysis and reporting on group or mailbox data.

To export Microsoft groups using the Microsoft 365 or ExchangeOnline portals, navigate to the relevant page mentioned in previous sections. Once you reach the group admin page, click the “Export” button and choose between 2 options.

If you want to export only the groups in the current list view, you select the “Export groups in this list” option. Alternatively, if you need to export all Office 365 groups, you select “Export all groups.”

Also export shared mailboxes (only supported by the ExchangeOnline admin portal).

To complete this task, navigate to Recipients -> Mailboxes and click “Export mailboxes.” 

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Method 2 of 3: Create and Manage Office 365 Groups for Collaboration

Using Azure Active Directory Portal

There are similarities and differences among the Microsoft 365, Exchange Online, and Azure AD portals. For instance, the Azure AD portal shares group management for Microsoft 365 and Distribution groups with the other portals.

However, only the Azure AD and Microsoft 365 portals allow businesses to manage security groups, excluding the Exchange Online Admin Center. Notably, the Azure AD portal enables the conversion of security group membership from static to dynamic, but it does not support creating mail-enabled security groups.

Additionally, the Microsoft 365 portal supports creating security groups but lacks the feature to convert group membership from static to dynamic.

This section explores using the Azure Active Portal to create, manage, and delete Office 365 groups. Additionally, detailed steps are provided for changing a security group’s membership from static to dynamic.

Create Office 365 Groups in Azure Active Directory Portal

1.Sign in to portal.azure.com and search for Azure Active Directory, then open it.

2. Next, navigate to the “Groups” node on the menu and click on it.

3. Lastly, to create a group, simply click on the “New group” link.

Click Create after selecting the options for the new group on the New Group page. Below this screenshot, we explain each part of the new group creation options.

1. Choose the type of group you want to create, whether it is Security or Microsoft 365.

2. Provide a name for the group.

3. Optionally, describe the purpose of the group.

4. If you wish to assign the group an Azure AD role, select “Yes” for the “Azure AD roles are assigned to the group” option during the group creation. Note that this feature cannot be modified later.

5. Determine the membership assignment type. For the “Assigned” option, you need to add members manually.

Alternatively, select “Dynamic user” or “Dynamic device” to dynamically add group members if creating a Security group. In contrast, if creating a Microsoft 365 group, only assign Dynamic group memberships to Dynamic users.

6. Assign group owners now or later, after creating the group.

7. Add group members, remembering to include a dynamic query, if you chose the dynamic membership assignment type in step (5).

Please note that the group membership assignment type can be changed after creating the group.

Modify or Delete Office 365 Groups in Active Directory Portal

In the Azure Active Directory portal, you can modify the features of a group from the Groups page. You can access its “Manage” menu and make the necessary modifications by clicking on the group.

Furthermore, deleting the group is as simple as clicking the delete icon in the top left corner.

Change Security Group Membership from Static to Dynamic in Azure AD

You cannot change the group assignment type for Microsoft 365 groups after creating them. So, the option to change the group membership assignment type is only available for Security groups.

When transitioning an existing static group to a dynamic group, the system removes all current members. Afterward, new members are added by processing the dynamic query specified by the admin.

To do this, open a security group on the Azure AD portal’s Group page. Then, click the group’s Properties menu. 

Finally, select Dynamic user or Dynamic device from the “Membership type” drop-down. Once you change the group membership type to dynamic, you must add a dynamic query (3). 

Export Office 365 Groups in Azure Active Directory Portal

For compliance requirements, you need to perform backups, or require analysis and reporting, exporting Office 365 groups is accomplished through the Azure Active Directory portal.

To export groups in Azure AD, navigate to the Groups page and select “Download groups.”

Then, in the displayed flyout, either accept the default name for the CSV file or provide a unique name before clicking “Start.” Once the CSV file is prepared, simply click the provided link to download it.

Method 3 of 3: Create and Manage Office 365 Groups for Collaboration

With PowerShell

With Windows PowerShell, you create all the group types.

Learn how to effectively create and manage Office groups for collaboration using PowerShell.

Create Office 365 Groups Using Windows PowerShell

1. Open Windows PowerShell as an admin.
2. In the PowerShell console, execute the following command to open another PowerShell instance that grants permission to run commands downloaded from the internet.

					powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy "RemoteSigned"

3. Next, install two PowerShell modules, ExchangeOnlineManagement and AzureAD, to execute the commands in this section effectively.

Once the modules are installed, run the Import-Module command to add them to your current PowerShell session, enabling seamless integration.

					Install-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement, AzureAD
Import-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement, AzureAD

4. To establish the connection to Azure AD, execute the following command. PowerShell prompts you to provide your Microsoft 365 login details.


5. Once connected, create new Microsoft 365 and Security, and groups using the below commands. 

					#this command creates a Microsoft 365 security group
New-AzureADMSGroup -DisplayName "HelpDesk admin group (M365)" -MailEnabled $False -MailNickname "helpDeskAdminGroupM365" -GroupTypes "Unified" -SecurityEnabled $True
#creates a security group. The difference between this and the first command is specifing -GroupTypes "Unified" which creates a Microsoft 365 group
New-AzureADMSGroup -DisplayName "HelpDesk admin group (Security)" -MailEnabled $False -MailNickname "helpDeskAdminGroupSecurity" -SecurityEnabled $True


Modify or Delete Office 365 Groups Using Windows PowerShell

To add a user as a member of a group using PowerShell, execute the following command. This command assumes that you are currently connected to the PowerShell console used in the previous subsection.

					#get the object ID of the user you want to add as group member
$RefObjectId = (Get-AzureADUser -SearchString "enter search string here").ObjectId
#get the group ID of the group
$ObjectId = (Get-AzureADGroup -SearchString "HelpDesk admin group (Security)").ObjectId
#finally, add the user to the group
Add-AzureADGroupMember -ObjectId $ObjectId -RefObjectId $RefObjectId

Likewise, you can rename a group by executing the following commands.

					#get the group ID of the group
$ObjectId = (Get-AzureADGroup -SearchString "HelpDesk admin group (Security)").ObjectId
#change the name of the group
Set-AzureADGroup -ObjectId $ObjectId -DisplayName "HelpDesk admin group -new (Security)"

By applying the principles demonstrated in the previous examples, you have the ability to modify properties of Office 365 groups.

Create Dynamic Distribution and Mail-enabled Security Groups in PowerShell

To enable the creation of distribution and mail-enabled security groups, the ExchangeOnlineManagement module is necessary. If you need to install this module, I have included the command in the list below.

					#install the ExchangeOnlineManagement module
Install-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement -Force
#import the module into your current PowerShell session
Import-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement
#connect to Exchange Online Management. this command prompts for your Exchange Online login details
#create a new dynamic distribution group using the conditions specified
New-DynamicDistributionGroup -Name "Helpdesk Admins (dynamic)" -IncludedRecipients "MailboxUsers,MailContacts" -ConditionalDepartment "Marketing","Sales"

Export Office 365 Groups in Windows PowerShell

The commands below shows various ways to export Office 365 groups. 

					initialize an empty array to save the report later 
#get all Office 365 groups 
$O365Groups = Get-AzureADGroup
#export the groups to a CSV file
###the commands below exports all Exchange Online ##
$O365Groups | Export-CSV D:\report\O365Groups.CSV -NoTypeInformation
$EXOGroups = Get-UnifiedGroup
#export the groups to a CSV file
$EXOGroups | Export-CSV D:\report\EXOGroups.CSV -NoTypeInformation

Thank you for reading Office 365 Groups: Create and Manage Groups for Collaboration. We shall conclude the article. 

Office 365 Groups: Create and Manage Groups for Collaboration Conclusion

In conclusion, this article provided an overview of creating and managing Office 365 Groups for effective collaboration. We explored different types of groups, including Microsoft 365 Groups, Distribution Groups, Dynamic Distribution Groups, Security Groups, Mail-enabled Security Groups, and Shared Mailboxes.

We also discussed three methods to create and manage Office 365 Groups: using the Microsoft 365 or Exchange Admin Portal, the Azure Active Directory Portal, and PowerShell.

By leveraging these methods, organizations maximize the potential of Office 365 Groups to enhance team collaboration and streamline communication.


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Victor Ashiedu

Victor Ashiedu

Victor is an IT pro based in Manchester, UK. With over 22 years of experience managing Windows Server, Active Directory, and Powershell, and 7 years of expertise in Azure AD and Office 365, he's a seasoned expert in his field. When he's not working, he loves spending time with his family - a wife and a 5-year-old. Victor is passionate about helping businesses succeed in today's fast-changing tech landscape.

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