How to Create a Shared Inbox in Gmail: Setup Guide

Table of Contents

Last Updated: April 2024

Ever wondered how to enhance team communication and boost productivity using a shared inbox Gmail?  

Though Gmail is handy for personal and office use, teams in businesses or schools have unique needs. Instead of just chatting one-on-one, teams need to manage a single inbox together. This teamwork ensures they can handle incoming messages efficiently.

Say goodbye to confusion and hello to productivity as we walk you through the steps to set up your shared inbox, ensuring your team operates like a well-oiled machine. 

Let’s transform the way you work together – it’s simpler than you think!

Shared Inbox Gmail: How to set up

Like many Google products, setting up both solutions is straightforward, especially for Google Workspace administrators. Certain necessary permissions are conveniently located in the admin console, simplifying the process.

1. How to Set Up a Delegated Account

Step 1: Sign in to the Gmail account you want to delegate.

Step 2: Click on the settings icon, then select “See all settings” and go to the “Accounts” tab.

Step 3: Scroll down to the “Grant access to your account” section.

Step 4: Click “Add another account.”

Step 5: Enter the email address of the account you want to add as a delegate and allow Gmail to send an authorization email.

Step 6: Once the other person accepts access, they can click on their user icon in Gmail to access the delegated account.

shared inbox gmail

Note: If you don’t see this option, your Google Workspace administrator needs to enable account delegation in the admin panel. Also, logging out and signing back in might be necessary for the changes to take effect.


2. How to Set up a Google Collaborative Inbox

shared inbox gmail

Step 1: Go to the Google Groups main page and log in to your Google account.

Step 2: Click “Create a group.”

Step 3: Provide a name, dedicated email address, and description for your group.

Step 4: Adjust privacy settings by allowing “Anyone on the web” to post, but limiting group access to “Invited members.

Step 5: Add your team members to the group.

Step 6: Click “Create group.”

Step 7: Access group settings.

Step 8: Enable “Collaborative Inbox” under “Enable additional Google groups features.”

Step 9: Customize group settings: 

    • Turn off “Message moderation,” 
    • Allow web posting and file sharing.
    • Set permissions for “Metadata moderation” to “Group members.”
    • Choose default sender and member response options.
    • Decide on private email responses within the group.

Step 10: Click “Save changes.”

Note: If you can’t find the option to allow “Anyone on the web” to post, your Google Workspace administrator must enable it in the admin panel to receive external emails.

Shared Inbox Gmail: Pros and Cons

In Gmail, you can share your inbox using three methods: shared login credentials, delegated accounts, and collaborative inboxes (like a Gmail group mailbox). 

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s crucial to weigh these factors when deciding how to set up shared email for your team.

1. Shared Credentials

The most straightforward method to distribute email tasks among team members is by sharing the login credentials with those who require access to the account.

However, this approach poses a significant security threat. Sharing passwords jeopardizes the safety of your Gmail account, customer information, and the reputation of your company.

                                Pros                     Cons
  • Easy to implement
  • Huge security risk
  • Allows unified email usage
  • No collaboration tools
  • No training/setup required
  • No reporting tools

Suggested for:

Due to the high-security threat, we discourage the sharing of login credentials.

2. Delegated Accounts

Given the risks associated with sharing login details, Google offers a safer method to grant email access to multiple users: delegated accounts.

In Google Workspace, a Gmail account can have up to 1,000 delegates, each accessing the inbox using their unique Gmail credentials. While this method enhances security, it doesn’t offer many additional benefits. 

The primary distinction is that when a user sends an email from a delegated account, Gmail can identify the sender in the email’s header, promoting accountability and transparency.

  • Easy implementation.
  • Not suitable for team email management.
  • Secure access for up to 1,000 users.
  • Lack of collaboration tools.
  • Facilitates emails from a single address
    with original sender information.
  • Absence of reporting tools.

Suggested for:

You can add up to 1,000 delegates, but having too many people can get confusing. Delegate accounts work best when just one extra person, like an assistant or admin, is helping the account owner.

3. Google Groups and Collaborative Inboxes

Another method for granting multiple individuals access to incoming emails is by creating a Google Group. Google Groups facilitate collaborative communication through three main approaches:

    • Community Forums: Group members participate in discussion threads, resembling an electronic bulletin board.
    • Email Distribution Lists: Emails sent to one address are distributed to all group members.
    • Collaborative Inboxes: Emails sent to a single address can be viewed in individual Gmail accounts or accessed via a web interface for collaborative actions.

Although forum features might not be ideal in this context, businesses often use Google Groups as email distribution lists (e.g., support@, billing@) without the expense of an extra user seat. 

For companies dealing with a high email volume, enabling the Collaborative Inbox feature creates a shared mailbox accessible to all members. 

This feature includes basic collaboration tools like assigning conversations, labeling messages, filtering content, and marking issues as “closed” once resolved.

                                          Pros                                        Cons
  • Shared access using a single email address.
  • Limited advanced collaboration features (e.g., collision detection).
  • Basic collaboration features (email assignments, statuses).
  • Absence of knowledge storage options (help center articles, templates).
  • Ability to label (tag) emails for the organization.
  • Lack of reporting tools.
  • Free service within Google Workspace.

Suggested for:

If your team needs a shared Gmail inbox, Google Groups, particularly the Collaborative Inbox feature, is a great choice. It’s free, offers secure shared email access, and has basic collaboration features. 

It works best for small teams (2-3 people) dealing with a moderate email flow, especially for simple requests that don’t involve a lot of back-and-forth and don’t require detailed reporting.

Shared Inbox Gmail: What to Choose?

When choosing the right option for your team, consider your team size and your company’s specific needs:

  1. Delegated accounts are suitable when only one person will be working in the inbox at a time, and their tasks don’t require collaboration.
  2. Collaborative inboxes are the better choice when multiple people will be working simultaneously, and features like assignments, shared labels (tags), and ticket statuses are beneficial.

It’s important to note that neither option is ideal for larger teams. 

While a collaborative inbox provides some tools for managing group emails, there’s still potential for miscommunication and overlapping tasks. 

Moreover, tracking team productivity and accessing reporting features are not supported by either option.

Also Read: 8 Shared Inbox Software to Improve Email Collaboration in 2023

That completes our shared Gmail inbox setup guide, offering valuable insights to aid your decision-making process.

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To sum up, choosing the right shared inbox method in Gmail is crucial for effective teamwork. Consider your team’s size, communication needs, and security. 

A well-organized shared inbox boosts productivity and simplifies communication, making your team more efficient. Evaluate your options wisely to enhance your Gmail experience and teamwork.

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