Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
IT Support Center

Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams FAQ

Before creating or using an Office365 Group or Microsoft Team, be sure to read the following:
Office365 Group Standards

 Announcement

October, 2017:  Groups/Teams created on/after October 13, 2017 will have the @groups.ct.edu domain and will need to comply with the Office365 Group Standards. Groups/Teams that are not compliant, will not be listed in the email address list. Groups/Teams without any activity within the past 6 months may be deleted.

Questions:

Answers:

  •  How do I decide which to create: A Microsoft Team or an Office365 Group?
  • We currently are not recommending Microsoft Teams and suggest instead to create an Office365 group. Even though a Microsoft Team is built on top of an Office Group, there are many other factors involved and therefore we do not support Microsoft Teams beyond what is documented. More details about using a Microsoft Team are outlined in the FAQ item "How do I use Microsoft Teams?" that should be reviewed prior to creating a Microsoft Team.

    Microsoft Teams currently do not allow external guests to be members.

    If you want the messaging capabilities and you haven't created the group yet, create a Microsoft Team instead and you get all the features of a group too. If you already own an Office365 Group and now want a Microsoft Team, you can create a Microsoft Team from a group. Just launch the Teams app and when you create a Microsoft Team, it will ask you if you want to create one from a group you already have. NOTE: You will have to manually move content from the original group to one of your team's channels if you want to access it from your new Microsoft Team. Microsoft Teams works by organizing data by channels and content not in a channel will not be accessible.

    A Microsoft Team is more complicated to use than an Office365 Group, so if you don't need the chat-based features, want external guests as members or don't want to require the use of a separate app, go with an Office365 Group instead.

  •  What do I need to know about Public/Private groups?
  • The person creating an Office365 group chooses whether a group is public or private when the group is created. By default an Office365 Group is public. By default, a Microsoft Team is private. You most likely want the content of your group to be only available to members not anyone in the organization, so you will want a private group.

    Public Groups

    Public groups adhering to the naming standard:

    • Are listed in the email address list. (See below for what it means to be listed in the email address list.)
    • All content of a public group (email conversations, files, calendar, OneNote notebook) can be seen by anyone in the organization without being a member of the group. It is truly ‘public’ as the public can see all the group’s content.
    • Anyone can add themselves as a member of a public group and can subscribe to receive emails in their own inboxes when the public group receives emails.

    Public groups not adhering to the naming standard:

    • are changed to private and will be hidden from the email address list. This also applies if an owner decides later to change the name of a public group and the new name does not adhere to the naming standard.

    Private Groups
    • Private groups are hidden from the email address list but by request can be listed but ONLY if they adhere to the naming standard.
    • If an owner changes a private group to be public and the name adheres to the naming standard, the owner may need to request to list the name in the email address list.
    • If an owner changes a private group to be public and the name does not adhere to the naming standard, it will be changed back to private and will not be listed in the email address list.
  •  What does it mean to be listed/hidden from the email address list?
  • Only groups adhering to the naming standard can be listed in the email address list. The following apply when a group is listed in the email address list:

    • The group’s name and email address are searchable using the Discover Groups feature.
    • The group’s name and email address are searchable when entering text on an email’s recipient fields (to, cc, bcc) or by searching the email address list.
    • Anyone in our organization can see the group’s name, email address, description and the list of owners and members.
    • Anyone can send an email to the group’s email address even without being a member. NOTE: If group members are subscribed to the group to receive email in their inbox, they will also receive the email in their inboxes when an email is sent to the group.
    • Anyone can request to join a group. The group owner does not have to accept it - but they can send it.

    When a group is hidden from the email address list, it is not discoverable by searching for the name.  However, if someone knows the group’s email address, they can send email to the group whether it is private or public or whether they are members or not members.

    NOTE: If your group needs to have a member "send as" or "send on behalf of" the group, the group cannot be hidden from the email address list. Granting a member the ability to "send as" or "send on behalf of" is not configurable by the owner, it can only be set by request.

  •  There seems to be so many ways to access my group or team's features (mail, documents, calendar). What's the easiest?
  • An Office365 Group has many components (mail, documents, calendar, OneNote notebook, Planner, SharePoint site) and each component can be accessed through a variety of products (Outlook 2016, files can be synced to your workstation using the OneDrive sync client, Office365 portal, individual mobile apps, etc.) making it appear more complex than it needs to be because there are so many ways to access!

    You can access all the parts of the O365 Group by visiting your group's site. The URL to your site can be found in many places. Your group's site is always available by logging into the O365 Portal, then launching mail:

    Once in the Mail app, under the Groups heading, click on your group. Once you are in your group, click the ... and then select site:

     

    Bookmarking the site will help you quickly go directly to your site. It will be in the form: https://ctregents.onmicrosoft.com/sites/<group name>. Sharing that link with non members will show them a "You need permission to access this site." warning as only members will be able to access your site.

    When you invited members to join your group, they received an intro email welcoming them to the group. That email contains valuable links - one of them containing the link directly to your site:

     

    Mail (i.e. Conversations): You can access your Office365 Group's mail conversations from inside Outlook 2016, O365 portal's mail from any browser or from a mobile device that has the Outlook Group app installed. Note that external guests will not be able to access mail conversations from your group's site. They will be sent an individual email to their email address and will not be able to see "conversations" as other members do.

    Members that are not external guests, have the choice to unsubscribe themselves from receiving email in their inbox and instead only reading email sent to the group by looking in the group's mailbox. They can do this by unsubscribing from the group when using Outlook 2016:

     

    Documents (i.e. Files): We do admit this is an odd one - but Microsoft has two views into your group's files. If you click on the Files link from Outlook or from the O365 portal:

     

    You are only seeing a list of your files (without their folder structure). This doesn't make any sense to us either! If you want to see your files in the folder structure, you will have to go to your group's site and then click Documents:

     

    Calendar: You can access your group's shared calendar from inside Outlook's calendar as you would any shared calendar. Note that external guests will not be able to access the shared calendar. They will be sent calendar invites to their email address and will not be able to see a shared calendar as other members do.

  •  Is there an app for that?
  • Refer to Microsoft's documentation for accessing your group from the Outlook Groups mobile app.

    Compare Office365 Group features on different platforms (Outlook 2016, OWA, iOS, Android, etc.)  

  •  How do I work with my group's shared calendar?
  • To separate your own personal calendar entries from a group (or multiple groups you may belong to), instead of creating a calendar entry in your own calendar and inviting others, create it in the group's shared calendar. Members of your group will then receive a calendar invite (external guests will receive it in their inbox) and they can also separate calendar invites from you and from the shared group. Remember that external guests access calendar invites different.

    If you simply want to view the group's calendar by itself from Outlook 2016, browse to your group found under Groups in the left menu and select your group. It will bring up the group's inbox. At the top, select Calendar and it will bring up just the group's calendar by itself:

     

    You can also view multiple calendars together in one view in Outlook as well. First you need to add the calendar to your favorites. Scroll down to your group listed under Groups in the left menu. Right click on the group and click "Add to Favorites":

    Then, when you go to your calendar view, it will be listed as a separate calendar entry under "My Calendars" that you can then enable in your calendar view by putting a check mark next to the calendars you want to view:

    When you have more than 1 calendar checked, they show up next to each other. To create a single view of all your calendars, click the arrows at the top to create a single view of all calendars (they are visually merged but are still separate calendars). Each time you add another calendar to your view, you can click the arrows to merge them or unmerge them into/from a single calendar view:

    This is a single view of 3 calendars. Each calendar is a different color. To create an event in a specific calendar, click the calendar's tab to change the focus to that calendar and then create your event as you normally would.

    Group members will then receive a calendar invite because you created the event in the shared group calendar. You can see exactly which calendar you are adding an event to when you create the calendar entry:

    Here is some additional information on working with your shared calendar:
  •  Can I stay a member of a group but stop receiving email in my inbox for emails sent to the group?
  • Yes. In Outlook 2016, it's called "Subscribe/Unsubscribe" and in OWA, it's called "Following/Not Following".

    In Outlook 2016, go to your group under Groups in the left menu and then click "Membership" in the top menu bar to toggle between "Subscribe" and "Unsubscribe":

     

    In the O365 portal's mail, when you are in your group, use the drop down next to "Following" or "Not Following" to toggle between the two options. You can also click the Group Settings button and go to "Manage group email" to change further "Not Following" options:

     

     

  •  My group's email address and SharePoint site is different than my group's name. Why?
  • When creating your group, if you name your group using any special character other than dash or underscore (- or _) then those characters will not appear in the email address or the site's file location. 

    For example, if you name your group "Black & White", the email address will be blackwhite@groups.ct.edu and the site's SharePoint site will be: https://ctregents.sharepoint.com/sites/blackwhite

  •  How do I change my group site's home page?
  • Your Group's home page is a SharePoint team site. Refer to Microsoft's documentation for information on how to change your Group's SharePoint site.

  •  Can my group use my college's domain for the group or the email address (i.e. groupname@xxcc.commnet.edu or groupname@college.edu)?
  • No, all Office365 groups will have the @groups.ct.edu for the email domain and cannot use another domain.

    The group's site will be: https://ctregents.sharepoint.com/sites/<group name>

  •  How do I Create/Rename an Office365 Group?
  • It is not currently possible to rename the underlying Group/Team. When you are creating your group/team, select the name carefully making sure to follow the Office365 Group Standards.

    Here's info on how to create an Office365 Group (from Outlook 2016 or OWA)
    Here's info on how to create a Microsoft Team

    If you choose to rename the display name of your group/team, it still needs to adhere to the group standards for public groups or private groups that are listed in the email address list. NOTE: Changing the display name of your group does not change the underlying SharePoint site name nor the group's email address, that's why selecting the right name when you create the group/team is important.

    If your group/team already exists and the name is not compliant with the naming standard and you wish it to be listed in the email address list, you will need to rename the group's Display Name to be compliant with the naming standard AND submit a request to change the underlying email address otherwise it will not be listed in the email address list even if the Display Name is compliant.

    Examples:

    A Faculty member at Tunxis creates an Office365 Group for a class. They do not want anyone but members to see the group’s content but they want it listed in the email address list for others to find it:

    • They create a private group named: TX-Public Speaking 203 using the naming standard.
    • The email address for the group would be TX-PublicSpeaking203@groups.ct.edu
    • They request that their group be listed in the email address list.
    • Because it is a private group, the content is not visible to non-members but because it is listed in the email address list, people in our organization will be able to find it if they search for it and can send an email to the group’s inbox. Any members that are subscribed to receive emails will also get emails sent to their inboxes.
    A Faculty member at Three Rivers creates a private group but think they may want it to be public later:
    • They create a private group named: TR-Think Tank using the naming standard.
    • The email address for the group would be TR-ThinkTank@groups.ct.edu
    • Unless they request it to be listed in the email address list, people in our organization cannot search for the group by name or by email address.
    • Because it is a private group, the content is not visible to non-members.
    • Later, the owner decides they want it to be a public group and they change the type from private to public. The owner may need to request to have the group listed in the email address list after changing it from private to public.
    • Now that the group is public, anyone in our organization can view the group’s content without being a member.
    • People from our organization can also search for the group by name in the email address list.
    A Student creates a study group. They do not want anyone but members to see the group’s content:
    • They create a private group named: Room 119 Study Group
    • The email address for the group would be Room119StudyGroup@groups.ct.edu
    • Because it is a private group, it does not need to adhere to the naming standard
    • The group is hidden from the email address list and therefore not discoverable, however, if someone knows the group’s email address, they will still be able to send email to the group’s email and subsequently subscribed members will also receive an email in their inbox.
    A Student creates a public group named: Silly Study Group with 5 other students as members:
    • Initially the group will be publicly available and listed in the email address list because they selected the group to be public.
    • The email address for the group would be SillStudyGroup@groups.ct.edu
    • Because the group name does not adhere to the naming standard, it will be changed to a private group and will be hidden from the email address list.
    • If someone searches for “Silly” using Group Discovery or searches the email address list, they will not see the group listed.
    • If someone knows the group’s email address even after it is changed to private, they will still be able to send email to the group’s email and subsequently subscribed members will also receive an email in their inbox.

  •  How do I use an Office365 Group?
    • How to join a group
    • How to delete a group
    • How to have a group conversation (how to reply just to the sender or reply to the group)
    • How to customize your group's SharePoint site
    • Adding and removing group members
    • Members can choose to leave or unsubscribe from a group - Your members can stay a member of the group but unsubscribe from receiving group emails in their inbox. Or they can choose to leave the group altogether if they want and no longer will be members of the group.
    • Another great Microsoft document that summarizes how to get more out of Office365 Groups.
    • Do you want to have your group's files synced to your workstation? Here's how to sync Office365 Group/Microsoft Team files to your PC using OneDrive for Business. This is a great way to make the files available in your Office365 Group or Microsoft Team available right on your PC. Use the OneDrive for Business client to sync your group's files just as you did to sync your OneDrive for Business files.
    • You can manage your group's documents better by going directly to your group's site versus managing them from the "Files" section. The "Files" section just lists all your files - they are not grouped into their folders. However, when you go to the "Documents" section of your group's site, you can see the folder structure, manage permissions, share files and more. Here's how you get to your group's site:

      When in Outlook 2016 on your desktop, you will first click "Files" to get to the Home page of your site, but then just click "Documents":


  •  How do I use Microsoft Teams?
  • This is very important when using a Microsoft Team: Because part of a Microsoft Team is an Office365 Group, there are some things you need to know about the difference and why you may not see content when it's a Microsoft Team vs. an Office365 Group:
    • You cannot merge two different Microsoft Teams, so make sure before you create a new Microsoft Team that there already isn't one for the same purpose with the same members you intend to invite. There is no way to move conversations, chats or Planner tasks manually.
    • External guests are not (yet) allowed to join Microsoft Teams.
    • When a Microsoft Team is deleted, so is the underlying Office365 Group.
    • A Microsoft Team contains "channels". Each channel has it's own email address, email conversations and files in order to organize your discussions. Email conversations that occur within a Microsoft Team channel are not visible from Outlook 2016 or OWA mail. As well as the opposite, you cannot see Microsoft Team conversations from Outlook 2016 or OWA mail. You can only use the Microsoft Team app to see channel conversations.
    • A Microsoft Team channel's email address does not use the Office365 Group format (i.e. @groups.ct.edu) - instead a channel's email address uses the format: <unique channel id number>.groups.ct.edu@amer.teams.ms.
    • If you are looking at the list of all Office365 groups from Outlook 2016 or OWA mail, you won't be able to tell the difference between an Office365 Group and a Microsoft Team's connected Office365 group. It will be confusing because an Office365 Group's email conversations and files are easily available from Outlook 2016 or OWA mail but NOT Microsoft Team channel conversations or files. 
    • If email is sent to the Microsoft Team's connected Office365 Group (<teamname>@groups.ct.edu), members will not see it when they look at the team from inside the Teams app. You ONLY see the conversations that are in a Microsoft Team's channel. Each channel has it's own unique email address (<channel id number>.groups.ct.edu@amer.teams.ms) and is what is used for conversations per channel.
    • If files are placed in the Microsoft Team's connected Office365 Group file folder and not in a channel's file folder, they will not be accessible when you look at it from inside a Teams app. To avoid confusion, files should only be placed in a channel's file folder and NOT in the mail Microsoft Team's document location. You'll be able to see each channel's folder from the SharePoint team site and be able to manage the files.
    • If you create a meeting in the Team's connected group's calendar from Outlook 2016, it will not have all the functionality of a meeting that was created from inside the Team's app. To get all the functionality of a Microsoft Team meeting, it must be created from inside the Team app.
    • If you created a new Microsoft Team from an existing Office365 Group, you will have to manually move content from the group area (OneNote notebook sections, Planner, files) to the Team's channel area so that it's visible from inside the Microsoft Team.
  •  How does external guest access in a group differ from a CCC or System Office Faculty/Staff/Student?
  • Guests are anyone that is not a CCC or System Office Faculty/Staff or Student. They will access your group by logging in to a Microsoft Account using the same email address you invited to join your group. This applies to CCSU, ECSU, WCSU, SCSU and Charter Oak members. You will need to add their CSCU account as a member and they will use their CSCU account to login. You can also invite non-CSCU users to your group - they will need to have a Microsoft Account associated with the email address you invite. If they don't already have one, they can create one.

    To add an external guest to your group, follow these instructions by using the O365 Portal (don't use the Outlook app) and accessing your group, then the members tab. The O365 portal is also known as OWA (Outlook Web Access).

    External guests have very different access to an Office365 group than CCC and System Office Faculty/Staff/Students. External guests will receive an email with instructions on how to access your group when they are invited. All of the external guest's interactions occur via email, they do not access the group from Outlook or from the OWA group interface. It is very important for external guests to save the "Welcome email" from your group as it contains links they will use to get access to the group's files.

    Currently, external guests:

    • Cannot browse groups
    • Will not see the group listed under "groups" in their inbox - they will only see groups from their own organization
    • Cannot add or remove group members from the group
    • Cannot view the group calendar - (they will get calendar events via email instead)
    • Cannot modify calendar events
    • Cannot visit the Conversations tab from the group's site - (instead, they will receive email and can reply-to-all to reply to the group)

    "Inviting guests" means adding them as a member of your group. Once they are members of your group, they will have access to all of the group's documents. You will not have to "share" documents or folders with members of your group to provide them access to documents.

    Refer to this very good resource to learn more about External Guest access to an Office365 Group.