I have three gmail groups A, B and C, each with say ten members.

Now I want create another bigger gmail group, say, BIG containing all the members of A, B, and C.

I tried simply clicking on the plus button and writing the names A, B and C. It did not work.

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Please tell me whether it is possible to add a gmail group to another gmail group in some way, or I should not bother?

Do we have only the exhaustive way of individually adding all those thirty plus names to BIG?

1 Answer 1


You cannot add a Google Contacts group to another group directly. Groups do not nest (kind of like how Gmail labels do not nest if you have not activated nesting in Labs). However, we don't need to add users to BIG one-by-one either. You have a couple options, actually.

The Easy Way

The most direct, and probably easiest for most circumstances, is to batch add users from A to BIG, then from B to BIG, then from C to BIG (etc.). I assume you already have A, B, and C, so now create BIG. Now go to A. Click the "Select All" checkbox to select every contact in Group A. Then, click the Groups menu (the drop-down menu with a three-person icon) and click the open checkbox next to the BIG group. This will add everyone from A to BIG.

Screenshot showing the three steps described above

Removing contacts from lists can be done on a one-by-one or group-by-group basis (or any combination thereof).

Something More Elaborate

UPDATE: Google no longer permits nested groups. No workaround at this time. My original notes still included here for reference purposes, and in the hopes that we find a workaround. Made my answer a wiki to facilitate other solutions!

"Hang on!" you say. (I don't know, what do you usually say? It's a one-sided conversation right now, I get to put words in your mouth. Here come some more:) "This easy way works for simple lists, but what if things get complicated? What if Jane Test is leaving Group B. Normally, this would mean that I remove her from BIG also. But I have lots of contacts and groups; Maybe Jane should still be in BIG because she is a member of Group C also. Or, what if I forget about this issue and don't check Jane's contact card for other groups when editing it, and then take her out of BIG mistakenly?"

Now I think you're being picky, but there is a solution for this too. Instead of using Google Contacts for these more complex contact/group and group/group relationships, create some private Google Groups for A, B, C, and BIG. Unlike Contacts groups, Groups groups (is that a thing?) can include other Groups groups. (See: http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=167100) Look, we're just going to call those "Groups" now. You can email everyone in a Google Group by setting their member preferences (for that Group) to receive all posts by email, and then by emailing a post to the group. Every member of the group gets the email.

That way, if Jane is in Groups B and C; and Groups A, B, and C are "members" of Group BIG; then when you remove Jane from Group B she will retain her membership in Group BIG in virtue of her membership in Group C. So, you don't have to check and you are less likely to mistakenly remove Jane from BIG.

  • I would really like to use your second option there, but depsite the documented link you provide this does not seem to be supported in google groups. This is really important as for more complicated lists you need to single source everything to avoid a maintenance nightmare yet still structure it hierarchically. I also tried hacking this so that a google group [email protected] has a member [email protected]. Then [email protected] forwards all email to [email protected], However, google detected this nesting and explicitly prohibited it. Any other ideas? Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 4:48
  • Checked on this and you are correct, nesting groups no longer works. Dang it, Google! If I think of a workaround I will post an update. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 15:47
  • Did you really mean to make this answer Community Wiki? It means you won't earn any reputation from any up-votes that it may receive.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 16:38
  • @ChrisF: Thanks for checking, but the change was intentional. I know that I will not have much time to research new solutions and the current solution is obsolete. There are real access management pitfalls to using the "Easy Way." So, while we've still answered the original question, our answer merely shifts the access management problem problem somewhere less obvious instead of truly solving it. I'd rather this page provide good answers to people in the future than to capture a few more up-votes on the current answer. Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 17:20
  • yeah, its a bummer because its almost perfect for my needs. Something like mailchimp seems overkill. Couple thoughts: 1) I think that the link you included applies to google apps, presumabley a more professional paid service google offers to businesses. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 14:42

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