Everything you need to know about Shared Mailboxes

Can more than one person access a Gmail account?

There is always a way to share a Gmail account among the members of a team.

The first approach is slightly ugly: when all members of a team use the username and password to log into a Gmail account, all at the same time.

Why it is ugly: Google will eventually block this account as it does not recommend more than one person accessing an email address. And it’s pretty easy for them to detect the usage as every member will have a unique IP address.

It’s definitely not a recommended practice for teams. Thankfully, there are much better ways of doing this:

1. By setting up Delegated access

2. By using a Collaborative Inbox

We’ve described them for you in the following questions.

What is Delegated Access in Gmail?

You can name a teammate a ‘delegate’ and allow them to read, send, and delete emails on your behalf. They will also be allowed to manage your contacts. It is a far more convenient and secure than giving someone your username and password.

What is a Collaborative Inbox?

You can use your Google Group as a Collaborative Inbox. In other words, it’s a way to manage your Google Groups.

Collaborative Inboxes help teams take care of emails arriving at shared mailboxes (inboxes managed by a team). The moment an email arrives, everyone who is a part of the Collaborative Inbox gets notified.

Members have two options: They can either ‘take’ the email or ‘assign’ it to another member in the same group. The good thing is that everybody knows who is working on what.

You can use Collaborative inboxes to distribute and track responsibility of topics or emails among group members.

Then why aren’t Collaborative Inboxes popular?

Google Groups or Collaborative Inboxes — both will take you outside Gmail to access shared mailboxes — to an interface that does not look or function like Gmail (that we’re all so familiar with).

You will have to spend considerable time and energy to train your team to use the Collaborative Inbox. Not just that, your teammates will have to keep switching between their Gmail and the Collaborative Inbox quite frequently. It is by no measure a decent way of managing emails.

What is a shared mailbox?

Any inbox which is accessed and managed by a group of members known as a shared mailbox.

The solutions we just talked about - delegated access and collaborative inbox - are both shared mailboxes.

Typical examples include inboxes such as info@comany or support@company which are always managed by more than one person.

The fundamental idea behind shared mailboxes was to stop people in a team from forwarding emails to each other. Everyone on the team gets access to the emails arriving at the shared mailbox.

Teams that use shared mailboxes enjoy the following benefits:

  • Everyone on the team has access to emails arriving at a common email address.
  • Different members on the team could start replying to emails in real-time.
  • Because there are no forwarded emails, team members have less clutter in their inboxes.
  • There are fewer CCs and BCCs when everyone on the team has access to the same information.

When do we use a shared mailbox?

We use a shared mailbox when we want an entire team to shoulder the responsibility of incoming emails.

Shared mailboxes work great for teams that have to deal with a lot of emails on a regular basis. A classic example is support teams. There is always a stream of emails hitting the support@ inbox, and one person can obviously not handle all of them.

Almost all teams in an organization have a shared mailbox to keep communication centralized. Sales teams would have a sales@ shared mailbox where prospective customers reach out. The accounts team would have mailboxes like payroll@, payables@, and receivables@. The operations teams would have orders@. HR would have hr@. It’s all-pervasive.

What is the difference between a shared mailbox and distribution list?

A shared mailbox is a full-fledged inbox. It has a separate Inbox, drafts, and sent items. Every email sent to the shared inbox can be accessed by users with access.

Users have the permission to change their ‘send as’ field — they can send emails from the shared mailbox address. The moment you delete an email, it will be deleted for everyone.

Distribution lists (such as Google Groups), on the other hand, are a list of users who receive the same email in their inboxes. The same email is reproduced for everyone who is a part of the distribution list. Simply, it is a group of email recipients with the same email address.

When replying, the users can only use their personal address and not the address of the distribution list. When one user deletes the email they received because they are a part of the list, it does not affect the emails for the rest of the users.

How do I create a shared mailbox in Gmail?

In Gmail, you can use a Google Group as a Collaborative Inbox.

Collaborative inboxes are especially useful for technical support or customer service teams. For example, you could create a group with the address support@your-domain.com.

You could then add your support staff as group members, and allow people outside your organization to send messages to the group. Your support staff would then receive customer messages and take any of the following actions:

Assign responsibility for topics to group members

  • Mark topics as resolved
  • Edit tags associated with topics
  • Filter topics according to tag, resolution status, or assignee

How do I access a shared mailbox in Gmail?

This is where we hit a major roadblock. Google does not allow you to access shared mailboxes inside Gmail.

The Collaborative Inbox that we just talked about — forces you to go outside Gmail to manage shared inbox emails. It’s unfamiliar. Your team needs training. There’s a lot of to and fro between Gmail and the Collaborative Inbox. It’s not an intuitive way of managing emails.

And that is why we built Hiver. It helps you manage shared mailboxes right from your Gmail. There is hardly anything to learn. And you put an end to the incessant to and fro. Learn more.

Do shared mailboxes have passwords?

A shared mailbox does not have a username or password. Users access shared mailboxes by accessing their Gmail profiles, or their desktop browsers using permissions

Do shared mailboxes require a license?

Shared mailboxes do not need a separate license as such. But every user who is a part of the shared mailbox must have a G Suite license.

Does a shared mailbox need a user account?

Shared mailboxes don’t require a separate user account. They can be created by any user with a G Suite license.

Can you log into a shared mailbox?

You cannot log into a shared mailbox like typical inboxes (with a username and password). Users will be able to access the shared mailbox when they are logged in to their Gmail account.

Can a shared mailbox send emails?

Yes, if you are a part of a shared mailbox, you can always compose emails from the shared mailbox’ email address