Do you ever find yourself sending emails to the same group of four people every time you have an update related to a specific project? Or do you have a tight-knit group of friends who you email regularly, and usually all at once?
These are just two of the situations where it makes sense to use Gmail Groups. Learning how to create a Gmail group for any occasion can increase your productivity and help you improve the accuracy of your contact lists at the same time.
The Benefits of Gmail Groups
Why would you create a Gmail group in the first place? There are a handful of important benefits to consider:
- Time savings. First, being able to type a single word or phrase instead of typing out multiple names will save you time. You won’t have to go through the trouble of trying to remember everyone associated with a given project; instead, you can type the first few letters of your chosen keyword and let Gmail groups handle the rest. As you’ll see, creating a Gmail group only takes a minute or two, and once it’s created, it’s easy to manage.
- Personal and professional segmentation. Though I’d recommend using entirely separate accounts and platforms to manage your personal and professional contacts, you can benefit from distinguishing between these realms with Gmail groups. Essentially, some of your groups will be exclusively for personal use, while others will be exclusively for professional use.
- Content distribution. If you’re interested in distributing important content to a select group of people, Gmail groups can help. For example, you might be interested in sending periodic updates or newsletters to your most important clients, or you might need to distribute specific memos to team leaders within your organization.
- Labeling and general organization. Labels are also helpful for keeping your inbox and your contact list organized. Staring at a bland list of contacts from every area of your work and personal life can feel overwhelming; with labels, you can hover over an individual contact and quickly determine their relevance to you and your role within the organization. Labels are also easy to change over time, so you can stay updated as your organization evolves.
How to Create a Gmail Group in 6 Steps
The fastest and most approachable way to create Gmail groups is to simply use Gmail itself. It’s also completely free.
Follow these steps to create your first Gmail group:
1. Head to Google Contacts.
First, you’ll need to get to your contacts page, where you’ll have a list of all the people in your contacts list. You can get their either by clicking this link, or by heading to the top-right corner of your Gmail inbox, clicking the 3×3 grid, then clicking on the Contacts button.
2. Select the contacts you wish to add to the group.
Next, review your contact list and hover over the name of each contact to get the option of toggling a checkmark next to their name. Check all the contacts you wish to add to this Gmail group. You can select as many or as few names as you’d like.
3. Click the Labels icon.
Look at the top bar of this section and you’ll see a row of different icons. The Labels icon will look like a tag; click it to enter the “manage labels” submenu. When you get there, you can “Create label.” You can also click the “Create label” directly on the left-hand side of this screen, under the Labels section.
4. Create a Label for your chosen contacts.
Once you click the “Create label” button, you’ll be able to enter a custom name for this group of people. All the contacts you clicked originally will be assigned this label—in other words, they’ll be added to this Gmail group.
5. Click Save to save.
Click Save, and your Gmail group will be complete and ready for use.
6. Test your Gmail groups to ensure they’re working.
Now, let’s test to make sure your Gmail groups are functioning as they’re intended. Head back to Gmail and open a Compose window, then start typing the name of one of your groups in the “To” field. You should see a list of relevant options pop up; from there, you just have to select it. The email addresses included in this group will automatically populate when you do, so you can double check to ensure only the appropriate contacts will get this message. When you’re ready, draft the message and hit Send like normal.
Feel free to create as many labels and groups as you’d like. Because of the way labels work, overlap is possible (and may be necessary). For example, one person might be included in your “Friends” group as well as your “Coworkers” group. You can get a high-level overview of your Labels by looking at the list on the left-hand side of this screen. You’ll also be able to see how many people are in each list.
How to Edit Gmail Groups
If you need to edit one of your Gmail groups, whether you need to tweak the name or add or remove people, you can at any time. Hover over the name of your chosen Gmail group and click on the pencil icon to rename the Label. You can also click the trash can to delete it entirely.
If you’re interested in adding or removing people in a Label, there are several options available to you. Click the Label you’re interested in to see a list of the people included in that Gmail group. Then, you can click on the vertical ellipses on the right side of each contact to get a list of options. There, you can click “Remove from label” to remove them from this specific label, or check and/or uncheck all the labels you need to change at the bottom of this submenu.
You can also manage labels for each contact in your general Contacts list. This is helpful if you’re onboarding new email contacts (like if you’re hiring new employees). You can call up the same submenu here, per contact, by clicking the vertical ellipses at the right-hand side of the contact entry. You can also check a name, then click the Manage Labels icon. There, you’ll see all the labels that currently apply or don’t apply to this contact, and you can use a basic checkmark system to change this as you see fit.
Tips and Ideas for Using Gmail Groups
If you’re not yet sure how to use Gmail groups, or how to get most out of the feature, here are some tips to get you started.
These are just some of the types of Gmail groups you can create:
- Department heads. If you want to email the leaders or decision makers of your organization all at once, you can do it with a Gmail group.
- Client contacts. You can also create a useful Gmail group that consolidates all the important contacts within a client organization.
- Individual departments. It’s also helpful to create a group for each relevant department in your organization; for example, you might have lists and labels for Accounting, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service.
- New employees. When you hire a new batch of employees, you might need them all in a single contact list so you can reach them simultaneously.
- More for personal use than professional use, you can assign different labels to your friends, like “close friends” and “acquaintances.”
- You can do the same with your family members.
When creating and managing Gmail groups, follow these tips to improve your productivity and get the most value out of this feature:
- Keep your label names concise. In my earlier examples, I used an extended label name, but it’s better to keep these concise and immediately recognizable. The shorter the name is, the easier it will be to type and recognize.
- Create as many labels as are relevant. For the most part, you shouldn’t hold back on label creation. Even if you only call upon it once or twice a month, your label can be useful in saving time; the only exception here is if your labels start to overlap to the point of confusion, or if you have so many, you can’t keep them updated.
- Update your Gmail groups regularly. This brings me to my next point; keep your Gmail groups updated. Frequently, people in your organization will change departments, get onboarded, leave, or take on different responsibilities. When these events occur, you need to update your labels and your contacts.
- Always double check. Even if you’ve gotten used to the quality and reliability of your lists, it’s important to double check to make sure that your list is populating correctly in the Compose window, and that your Gmail group is still accurate and up-to-date. If you’re too reliant on quick shortcuts, you may end up accidentally sending a message to the wrong group.
Using Third-Party Tools to Create Gmail Groups
It’s also possible to use third-party tools to create Gmail groups. These tools are designed to be used at a larger scale, and tend to be tied to some additional functionality. For example, you may be able to use a tool designed specifically to help you create and manage email marketing campaigns; creating a Gmail group with such a tool may help you distribute special offers or newsletters, then track the response rates of the email addresses on the list.
There are dozens of third-party tools for Gmail that can help you manage your email contacts, your inbox, and various email functions. Only some will be able to help you create and use Gmail groups. Some may integrate directly with Gmail; they’ll ask you to grant permission to access your account data, then will automatically draw in your contact information. From there, you should be able to create and manage a list.
Otherwise, you may need to upload a .CSV file of all your contacts’ information. To do this, head to Google Contacts (like you did earlier) and click “Export” in the left-hand side. There, you’ll be able to select which contacts you want to export, and download them as a .CSV.
Getting the Most Out of Gmail Groups
I hope you’ve found this guide on how to create groups in Gmail helpful! Utilizing Gmail groups can help you use Gmail more efficiently, but how will you be able to tell if you’re truly saving time? If you’re interested in boosting your email productivity, you’ll need a tool to help you measure and analyze how you’re using Gmail.
Enter EmailAnalytics. With EmailAnalytics, you’ll get detailed visual breakdowns of all your email habits, including how long it takes you to respond to new messages, who your top senders and recipients are, and even your busiest times and days of the week. If you use it consistently, you can identify where you’re wasting the most time, and fix those habits before they ruin your productivity. Sign up for a free trial today to learn more!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.