Contact Group in Outlook vs. Exchange Distribution List/Group

Outlook Contact Group

A contact group in Outlook is a grouping of email addresses collected under one name. A message sent to a contact list goes to all recipients listed in the list. You can include contact lists in messages, meeting requests, and in other contact lists.

Exchange Distribution List/Group

As of the end of April 2024, Exchange Distribution Lists have been migrated to Exchange Distribution Groups in Microsoft 365

An Exchange Distribution List/Group shows up in the Global Address List (GAL) and is usable to anyone that has access. It also appears as a single recipient to everyone instead of a list of contacts.

To request an Exchange Distribution Group (M365), contact the IST Service Desk with the following information:

  • Name of the Distribution Group

  • Username(s) of the owner(s)

  • Usernames of the members

  • Whether there should be any restrictions on who can send to the list

Managing Distribution Group (M365) membership

Web browser / Mac OS users

  • Log in to Distribution groups - Outlook Web App (

    • Under Distribution groups I own, double click on the group you would like to edit

    • Select Membership on the left side of the window. 

    • Add remove members, as needed, using the “+” and “–“ buttons.

    • Click Save.

Outlook for Windows users

  • Open the Distribution List/Group

    • In the Outlook Home tab, click on Address Book

      • Under the Address Book drop down, choose Distribution Lists

      • Search for the list you own

      • Double click on it


      • You can also edit the Distribution List from the To: fields of a message or the Required: field in a calendar event

      • Right click on the name and choose Open Outlook Properties

  • Click Modify Members to add/remove members, then click OK

  • Click Apply then OK.

Need help?

Contact the IST Service Desk online or 519-888-4567 ext. 44357.

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