* About: Email Distribution Lists (LISTSERV, Outlook)
Email distribution lists make it easy to send messages to a group of people all at once. Although an email distribution list has a unique address, it is really a collection of email addresses. When a message is sent to the email distribution list, it is redistributed to each of the addresses contained in the list.
The following two types of email distribution lists are commonly used at McGill:
- Outlook / Exchange - This type of distribution list is restricted to addresses within the mcgill.ca domain (@mcgill.ca and @mail.mcgill.ca). Outlook distribution lists can be listed in the Global Address List (GAL) in Outlook for easy access, or they can be "hidden" from the GAL for privacy.
- LISTSERV - This type of distribution list is not accessible from the GAL and there is no restriction in terms of subscribers' email addresses, i.e, they can be either inside the mcgill.ca domain, or not. For most LISTSERV lists, members can subscribe or unsubscribe themselves. For additional details, see LISTSERV Email List Regulations.
The management of McGill lists is established by their primary owner in keeping with the Policy on the Responsible Use of McGill IT Resources. Support to the list members is provided by the list owner.
Who can use it
- McGill faculty and staff (with @mcgill.ca username) can request either type of distribution list.
- Students and affiliates can be owners of a LISTSERV list; however, the request form must be submitted by a sponsor who is a faculty or staff member with an @mcgill.ca email address, and that sponsor must agree to be one of the owners of the list.
How to request & access the service
Outlook email distribution lists
- Request a new Outlook list by submitting one of these request forms:
NOTE: Request required to receive external mail
By default, Outlook distribution lists configured by IT Services block ALL external email, including legitimate email, sent from non-McGill users. To request receipt of external mail, the list manager must submit a request to the IT Service Desk.
- To view available Outlook distribution lists in the Global Address List
In the Outlook Address Book, click the down arrow and select All Groups to show only distribution lists.
Note: Lists can be restricted to particular senders.
- To send messages to an Outlook distribution list
Once the distribution list has been set up, you can send email to the address of the distribution list, instead of the direct email addresses of the individual list members.
- To manage list membership
The list manager may use the Group Manager tool in Windows. When you complete your request, you will be given the name of the group to manage.
NOTICE: Listserv Web interface doesn't function properly in Firefox.
Please use the Chrome web browser to access the Listserv Web interface and make sure your are either on campus or connected to the VPN.
- To request a new LISTSERV list
All Listserv lists must be sponsored by a faculty or staff member; fill out and submit the LISTSERV mailing list creation form to create a new LISTSERV distribution list. The sponsor must act as the primary owner of the list, but students and affiliates may also be listed as owners with equal permissions to manage list membership and posts.
Note: If your list contains only McGill email addresses, an Outlook distribution list may be more the appropriate option. See article Comparison of email distribution lists in Outlook vs. Listserv for more details.
- To manage a LISTSERV list
LISTSERV owners can use the Web Interface for LISTSERV at McGill to manage their lists and subscribers. NOTE: You must be connected to McGill's Virtual Private Network to access the link.
- To post messages to a LISTSERV list
Most LISTSERVs are set up to only allow posts from members and some require all posts to be approved by the list owner.
- See the Training and documentation section for self-serve resources for LISTSERV list owners and subscribers.
There is no cost associated with this service. If you are a student, the cost is covered under the IT portion of your student fees.
This service is available 24 X 7, except during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Check the IT Services home page for announcements regarding service interruptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the differences between Listserv and Outlook distribution lists?
Consult the article Comparison of email distribution lists in Outlook vs. Listserv.
- Why can't I see an Outlook distribution list in the Outlook Global Address List?
Some Outlook distribution lists are hidden from the GAL for privacy reasons.
- How can I add/remove members on the Global Address List in my Outlook distribution list?
- Why have the members in my LISTSERV not received my message?
There may be a delay of several minutes before email messages reach all recipients in a LISTSERV. Also, some LISTSERVs are set up to require approval from the list administrator before messages are distributed (if the list administrator is not available to approve the message it sits on a server waiting).
- I want to stop receiving messages from a LISTSERV. How do I get off the list?
See the instructions for subscribing/unsubscribing at Information for List Subscribers
Best practices & policies
Training & documentation
The following self-serve documentation is available:
Outlook (GAL) list administrators
Contact the IT Service Desk