Distribution lists have become a pivotal part of an organization’s structure to communicate internally and externally. Distribution lists make it easy to create and maintain mailing lists. it is the go-to solution for all users to communicate and collaborate with team members and partners within a given organization.
Converting an on-premises Distribution list to a shared mailbox is not technically possible. Alternatively, the admin should delete the DL and recreate the DL with the same @ address as a shared mailbox. This can both be achieved in their local active directory or via Office 365/Exchange online.
There are many ways of recreating a distribution group whether that is on-premises or in the cloud which will be discussed in detail in this blog post.
Can A Distribution list be converted to a shared mailbox?
It is technically not possible to convert a distribution list to a shared mailbox via on-premises or from the cloud. There are alternative ways to change from a distribution list to a shared mailbox.
You can run the below PowerShell command to get the distribution group needed and then retrieve the LegacyExchange DN
Get-DistributionGroup “DistributionGroupName” | Select LegacyExchangeDN
3. Delete the distribution group
4. Create a new shared mailbox that has the same exact SMTP address via aka.ms/ECP (Exchange online). ( Please wait for another 30-60 mins after deleting the distribution group).
Once the distribution group has been deleted and the shared mailbox created, you should be all good to add the members who require full access, send as and send on behalf rights. There are countless of benefits when it comes to a shared mailbox features and the ability it has for multi user access.
What is a distribution group?
In short, a distribution group or a distribution list is a collection of two or members in your organization’s address book. When an email is sent out to the distribution group, it goes to all members of that group. You are also able to control whether these users are internal (just people from your organization) or external users. Usually, an office 365 administrator would be able to set up and manage those lists depending on your requirements and how restrictive you need the group to be.
What is a shared mailbox?
A shared mailbox allows multiple users to send and receive email from the same address. If an external person wanted to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org then the people who have full access to that mailbox would all see that email, if they have send as rights, they will also have the ability to send an email back as email@example.com. Alternatively, they can also send on behalf of the mailbox if they have that right meaning they would be able o send david on behalf of hr@deetrain
This type of mailbox is relatively useful for many teams and it provides a common calendar, ensuring that multiple users can book holidays, or see rota shifts within the team.
Difference between shared mailbox and distribution list?
Both distribution group and shared mailbox serve difference purposes. Shared mailboxes is sort of an upgrade from a distribution list which enables multiple users to access the mailboxes as well as receive and see emails.
Distribution lists is where information is just send out with no expectation for a message to be sent back. The only way to receive a reply is by the person reaching out to the person who sent the message.
Can we add distribution list to shared mailbox?
It is not technically possible to add a shared mailbox to a distribution list. The primary focus for distribution list is to disseminate information to a group of users within a given organisation, you won’t be able to provide full access or send as rights to a distribution list. The feature if not available to add distribution lists as members to a shared mailbox.
However, you can add a shared mailbox to a distribution list as a member, if the members are already added as a member and then you add the shared mailbox on top then the user(s) will get two sets of emails in their inbox.
Can you convert a distribution list to a security group?
There is not an option via Exchange online or Powershell to convert a distribution list to a mail-enabled security group. The purpose for a mail-enabled security group is to distribute messages and to grant access permissions to resources in active directly (AD).
The workaround solution is to delete the distribution group and create a fresh mail-enabled security group in Office 365 and use the features you require.
How do I forward a distribution list to a shared mailbox?
The best way to forward DL to a shared mailbox is by adding the shared mailbox as a member of the distribution it self. You can also test this by taking a look at the transport rules in EAC to send a copy to the shared mailbox. Once you send a email to distribution group, take a look at the message trace feature to see if the mail has delivered successfully incase you don’t see it in Outlook.
To conclude, we have discussed that it is not possible to convert a distribution group to a shared mailbox but we’ll need to delete the distribution group and then create a new shared mailbox with the same SMTP address. There should be a 10-15 minute gap between deleting and the creation of the mailbox.
Once the mailbox is created then we have the ability to provide full access, send as and send on behalf rights to the members who needs this service. This will be better for collaborations within the team itself and the organisation looking much more professional with the different departments they have.
We further discussed some of the definitions of what a shared mailbox, distribution group is and what the differences are between those to provide a better context. We then spoke about some of the ways in how you can forward emails and message from a DL to a shared mailbox.