Shared Mailbox or Distribution List

This article will set out the differences between a Shared Mailbox and a Distribution Group to help you choose which is the right option for you.

1. Shared Mailbox

  • A Shared Mailbox is a separate mailbox that users can be given access to. This mailbox has its own Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items but cannot be a user's primary mailbox.
  • Users who are given Full Access to a Shared Mailbox will see this mailbox in Outlook underneath their own Inbox and other folders on the left hand side of the screen (shown below).

  • A single copy of any emails sent to the Shared Mailbox's email address will be stored in the Shared Mailbox's Inbox and can be read by any user with access.
  • Users can also be given Send As permissions which will allow them to change the address in the From field of an email they write. This will send the email from the Shared Mailbox's address.
  • Deleting an email from a Shared Mailbox will delete the email for all users who have access to the mailbox.
  • Shared Mailboxes cannot be accessed on a mobile phone, only in the Outlook application on a PC or OWA in a web browser.

2. Distribution List


  • Users in a Distribution List will receive their own copy of any emails sent to the Distribution List's address.
  • When replying to an email received through a Distribution List, the reply will be sent with the user's email address. Mail can NOT be sent from the Distribution List's address.
  • Deleting an email received through a Distribution List will delete the email only for the user who deletes the email.