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The Strangeness that is Google Workspace Email Aliases (aka Google Groups)

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OK, I have to say the strangest thing about Google Workspace (nee GSuite) is that they don’t have email aliases. Instead, the idea of a BBS (bulletin board system from the 1980s) is mashed up with a Newsletter and then get contorted into an internal email alias.

Well, the need is pretty simple (but hard to do) which is that most companies have an all@thecompany.com or dev@thecompany.com and it would be nice to alias like this and even better have it sync with the collaboration system (such as Slack for instance).

With Google Workspace it is completely unclear how to do this, so here is the decoder ring:

  1. Groups for Business. First of all if you search for email alias under Google Workspace you will be super unsatisfied. You instead need to be an administrator and enable Groups for Business. This is unintuitively an option that is turned off by default. So logon to https://workspace.google.com and then on the left hand side, go to App > Google Workspace > Groups for Business > Service Status and set it to ON for everyone.
  2. Enable outside the organization. For security, the default is that only users who are inside your organization (eg who have @thecompany.com addresses) can be part of groups and you can’t email these groups from outside, so you won’t get random spam to all@ or hr@. But if you go to App > Google Workspace > Groups for Business > Sharing Settings > Sharing Options you can turn on. Note that to support the BBS option, the first one is “Public on the Internet” which you almost certainly do *not* want
  3. Google Groups. NOw you can go to your google groups and start creating them and create them and then there is this huge set of options that you need to set just right. YOu get to these settings by clicking on the option (three vertical dots) on the right of the Group name. The keys ones are Allow External Members. This means is this email alias internal only. That works for things like all@yourcompany.com, but if you want external folks to mail to info@yourcompany.com here is the place to set it. The second Who can post. If you allow external memembers, you need to set Who can post to Anyone on the web (the far right on the scale).
  4. Google Groups Allow Email Posting. The punchline to turn a Google Group into a real email alias is new which is in Post Policies > Allow email posting which basically enables your group name as an email alias. By default this is on, but make sure it is. If you want a BBS or Forum style system then you can leave on Allow Web Posting
  5. Note that there are huge number of other options like Who can post as a group (so mail comes from say hr@yourcompany.com and who can attach files and then in message moderating
  6. Email options. Finally if you scroll all the way down there it is and the most important is Subject Prefix which lets you add an [group] or any other string so you can figure out that the email came from a Google Group. I also include Email Footer > inlcude standard Groups footer which tells people how to unsubscribe from the email alias by themselves.

Enabling Email Alias to Slack posting

One thing that is nice is that Slack allows (with paid plans) the ability to go to Channel > Integrations > Email to Channel and it will generate an obscure email alias so you can email and that will appear in a channel.

If you enable outside organizations in the Administration, then you can add that email to an email alias, and then every post will cross-post to Slack. This is nice if you really want to see all this stuff on slack rather than having to flip back and forth between email and Slack.

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