Monday, April 14, 2014

Create a Group in Google Contacts

Have you ever needed to send frequent emails to the same group of people?  As a teacher, I need to do this often.  Emails need to be sent out to all the parents in my class quite frequently, and I used to type in every email address, every time.  I was using Microsoft Outlook and I knew I could create a contact group, but until my school went to gmail, I never took the time to figure out how.  Google makes this so simple!

The easiest way to get to Google Contacts is by clicking on the red word "Mail", located just under the colored Google logo in the top left corner of your browser.  When you do this, you will get three options - Mail, Contacts, and Tasks.  Clicking on "Contacts" will take you to your Google Contacts page.

You can also get to Google Contacts by typing into your web browser.  If you are logged into a Google account already, you can click what is referred to by many as the rubik's cube.  This is the little icon with 9 boxes in the upper right hand corner of your window.

Clicking on the rubik's cube will bring up a list of the major Google apps.  

When you click on one of the apps, it should open in a new tab.  If Contacts is not shown in that list, once you use Google Contacts, it should start showing up.  Contacts has always shown for me in the Google Chrome browser, which I highly recommend using as your default browser, but I tried it in Safari and Contacts didn't show until I went to it once by typing in the web address. 

Once you get to the Google Contacts page, you can add new individual contacts by clicking on the red New Contact button, or you can go down toward the bottom of the list and click on New Group, to create a group, which is what I'm going to show you today.  

When you click on New Group, you will be prompted to name your group.

Type in the name and then hit "OK".  I try to name it something quick and easy to type in, so when I want to email them, I can type it in quickly.  I've shown it here with a room number.  

Once you click ok, your new group will appear under My Contacts in the menu down the left side of the page.  

Click on the name of your group to manage it.  If this is the first time you have used Google Contacts and you don't have any individual contacts, your screen isn't going to change much when you click on the name of your group, but you will see that the name of your group is now red.  That means that you are on the right page.  The text on the white part of the screen will say, "There are no contacts in this group."  Click on the little image of the person with a + near the top to add contacts.  

Once you click the add contacts button, you will get a little window.   Type the email addresses of the people you want in your group.  You can do this one at a time, or all at once, just separate with commas if you do more than one at a time.  When you are done typing in the addresses, click "Add".

After you click add, your contacts will appear as a list.  Sometimes the first and last name will populate automatically, sometimes they won't.  It depends on if you have emailed that person before, if you copy and pasted the email address from an email where the person who sent it to you had that information included, etc.  

If the first and last name didn't come up, and you'd like to add it in, you can easily do this by clicking on that contact.  It will open up the information page for that person.  

You can click on "Add name" and type the person's name in the box and hit enter.  Then you can click on the little back arrow right above the contact picture, or on your group name in red to the left to return to your group's main page.  You will see that the name has now been filled in for that contact.

Now, when you go to write an email, simply type the title of your group into the "To" box of your new message and it will automatically pop up your group as an option.  This is the easiest way to email your group.  

You can also click on the word "To" and it will bring up a contacts menu.  

Now, you will see your contacts listed here, but this is not your group.  When you add members to a group, it adds them in as individual contacts under My Contacts as well.  If you have many contacts, they will all appear in this first list.  You only see my group members there because I haven't added any other contacts to this Google account.  To get only your group, you want to click on the "My Contacts" button at the top.  This will bring a drop down menu and all your groups will show.  You can then click on your group name to bring up the group members.  

Once you bring up the group list, you can select them all by clicking on "Select all", or, if you don't want to include all of them, you can just check the box next to the ones you do want to include.  Then click the blue "Select" button at the bottom to add them to your email.  

Now you can easily email a whole group of people by typing in the name of the group, or selecting the group from your contacts list.  This is a huge time saver for me and I hope it will be for you, too! 

*Those of you who use Google Groups - I added a contact group for all my students in Google Contacts.  This even works for students who don't have gmail enabled on their Google Accounts.  Then when I went to create a Google Group for my students - I just typed in the name of my contact group to quickly add all of the students in that group to my Google Group.  If you are interested in learning about Google Groups, see my Google Groups 101 post.   

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