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What is a Gmail shared inbox, exactly?

Google calls its shared inboxes "collaborative inboxes." These are a type of Google Group.

To have many teammates manage an email account, you can set up an individual Gmail account and simply have each of your team members sign into this account. But your capabilities will be limited with this setup. It's an insecure way to manage email as a team, and you'll quickly reach Gmail's threshold for usage, which could result in your account being shut down.

That's why Google has functionality built for teams to work together — Google Groups.

What is a Google Group?

Google Groups are designed to allow teams to work together and communicate. There are 4 main types of Google Groups that you can create: email list, web Forum, Q&A Forum, and collaborative inbox. With a Google Group, you can email everyone in it with one address, invite everyone to an event, or share documents with the group.

What is a Google's collaborative inbox?

Google's collaborative inbox allows teams to manage email to group addresses as a team. You need to have a Google Group in order to make a collaborative inbox. (Read below for more on Google Groups!)

First, your organization will set up a group with whatever shared inbox address you desire, such as

Then you'll add your team members to the group. In your collaborative inbox account, you can assign responsibility for each message to certain group members, mark messages as resolved, create and edit tags associated with messages, and filter messages based on their tags, status, or assignee.

There are several limitations to Google's collaborative inbox that you'll want to watch out for if you're setting one up. We cover these in Chapter 6: Limitations of Google's Collaborative Inbox.