Setting Up a Gmail Shared Inbox: How, Pros, Cons, & Alternative

Ludovic Armand
by Ludovic Armand

Collaborating on shared emails is crucial for any business, especially when it comes to providing excellent customer service. Although it can be a challenging task, it is vital for building and growing a successful business.

A considerable number of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) rely on Gmail for their email needs. However, by default, Google's email client is not built to be a shared inbox and collaborate.

In this article, we'll explore how you can share your general inboxes with your team in Gmail, enabling you to work together more efficiently.

Can You Have Shared Inboxes for Gmail?

The short answer is yes. You can have shared inboxes for Gmail by taking advantage of some of Google's features. As we’ll see below, there are four ways to share a mailbox in Gmail. They all come with some benefits and drawbacks that should be considered before choosing which solution will be used for your team.

How Does Gmail Shared Inbox Work?

To share a mailbox in Gmail you have four options. We will explore all of them with their benefits and drawbacks.

Share Credentials

This solution is by far the easiest and most obvious of them all. While sharing your login credentials may seem like a good idea at first, there are a lot of drawbacks to consider.

Firstly, there is a significant security risk that comes with sharing your login access to a Gmail account. It could potentially put your business at risk of attacks and information theft.

Moreover, you cannot give granular permissions to specific individuals who need access to the mailbox. This means that every person who has access to the login credentials can access all the settings and information in the mailbox, which can be problematic for your business.


  • It is easy to set up.


  • It poses a security risk.
  • There is no granular access control.
  • It does not facilitate collaboration.

Delegated Accounts

To avoid sharing login information you can delegate your Gmail account to anyone in your organization. This means that the delegates can receive and reply to emails that come into that inbox by using their own Gmail account.

There are some advantages to delegating your Gmail account. It's easy to use and set up, and it provides better security compared to sharing credentials.

However, there are also some disadvantages to delegating. For example, there are no collaboration features, and there's no email management for teams. Additionally, the recipient will be able to see that the email was sent by someone else.

Delegating a Gmail account can be a good solution if you want to avoid the security risk of sharing passwords. However, it's important to keep in mind that there's no collaboration, and the recipient can see who sent the email.

Google Groups

By creating a Google Group, you’ll have an easy way to give your team members access to a shared mailbox. There are three options available:

  • Community forum
  • Email distribution list
  • Collaborative inbox

While the community forum might not be useful for sharing a mailbox with your team, the other two options might be a good fit. Let's take a closer look at them.

Email Distribution List

This is a good solution for teams that receive emails to general email addresses like billing@, info@, or marketing@. With the distribution list, every email received is forwarded to every group member, but it doesn't offer any collaboration features or allow team members to reply using the shared email address.

Collaborative Inbox

Google Collaborative Inbox email

That's where the Collaborative Inbox comes in. It lets group members see all the emails received to a shared email address in their own Google Group account and provides basic collaboration features like assignments, labels, and "closed" status. It also offers better security since you won't need to share any credentials.

However, keep in mind that Google Collaborative Inbox doesn't allow back-and-forth conversations, merging of conversations, or saved shared response templates. Also, it doesn't have any chat or comment features.

To summarize, here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a collaborative inbox:


  • Better collaboration features
  • Better security over sharing credentials


  • Two separate inboxes for personal and shared emails
  • No chat or comments features

How Do I Create a Shared Inbox in Gmail?

We won't be diving into how to share your credentials with your team because, as we mentioned earlier, it's far from the most optimal solution, especially when it comes to sharing an inbox in Gmail. And let's face it, even if you're considering this route despite our advice against it, you probably don't need a step-by-step guide on how to share them.

But, if you're looking to set up a shared inbox for Gmail, we've got you covered. Here's how you can do it.

How to Set up Gmail Delegates?

Setting up Gmail delegates is actually pretty straightforward.

If you're part of an organization, just make sure your Google Workspace admin has given users permission to use email delegation. It’s also important to keep in mind that personal accounts are limited to 10 delegates, while organizations can have up to 1,000 delegates.

Here’s how to set up Gmail delegation:

  1. Open your Gmail account (you can’t set up delegates in the Gmail app on iOS or Android) and go to the Settings menu ⚙️ in the top right corner.
  2. Click on See all settings and select the Accounts and Imports tab.
  3. Under the Grant access to your account section, click on the Add another account link.
  4. Enter the email address of the person you want to delegate access to.
  5. Click on the Next Step >> button and then click on the Send email to grant access button to send a delegation request to the delegate.

Gmail users with organizational emails can delegate access to a group with the same domain. Members outside of the group are not allowed to the delegated Gmail.

Once you’re done, your delegates will be able to access the shared inbox from the Gmail account dropdown menu.

How to Set up a Gmail Collaborative Inbox?

Creating a Collaborative Inbox list in Gmail is a little take a few more steps than adding delegates to an account.

  1. You’ll first need to create a Google Group. To do so simply head to the Groups page and log in to your Google account.
  2. From there, you’ll be able to create a new Group by clicking on the Create a group button.
  3. Enter the details of your new group and click on next.

    Creating a Google Group
  4. The following page lets you decide your privacy settings. You need to make sure that Who can post is set to Anyone on the web to be able to receive emails in this shared inbox. We recommend you choose the same setting as in the following screenshot so messages are only visible to your invited team members.

    Creating a Google Group setting
  5. Next, click on your group and then on Group settings. From there, check Collaborative Inbox under the Enable additional Google Groups features section.

    Google Group setting for Collaborative Inbox
  6. Click Save changes.

You now have a Collaborative Inbox that can be used as a shared inbox for your teams’ aliases.

Which Solution Should I Use as a Shared Inbox for Gmail?

As we've looked into different solutions to share a mailbox in Gmail, we've found that each option has its own pros and cons. However, there's one thing we can all agree on - never share your email account password, even if it seems like a convenient option. It's crucial for your business's security.

When trying to decide whether to delegate a Gmail account or use a Collaborative Inbox, there are a few factors to consider, such as:

  • Team size
  • Needed features
  • Use case

For example, a delegated account can be a good option for a one-person team that doesn't need to collaborate with others. But for a team of a few people who need to work on the inbox simultaneously and collaborate on emails using features like shared labels, assignments, and status, a Collaborative Inbox is a better choice.

It's important to keep in mind that Gmail shared mailbox solutions do have their limitations, especially for larger teams or teams where collaboration is crucial, such as customer support teams or sales teams.

If you want to avoid having to adjust your workflow to fit the tool you're using, you might want to consider using a shared inbox software like Missive that can adapt to your workflow and make collaboration a breeze.

Missive: The Shared Inbox Software Made for Team Collaboration

Missive is a powerful shared inbox and collaborative email management software that can supercharge your team's productivity and efficiency. It's built with collaboration in mind to help your company to grow and thrive without any limitations. With its advanced rules that can be customized to your workflow, Missive is the ultimate solution for your customer service and sales teams.

Missive interface

One of the best things about Missive is the fact that it offers an all-in-one platform for managing all communication channels, including SMS, social media, and even WhatsApp. You won’t need to go back and forth between multiple apps and manage different inboxes for personal and team use. With Missive, everything is integrated into one unified inbox. Missive also lets you give granular permission to an individual team member.

Even better, Missive offers integrations with other tools you already use and love, such as Salesforce, Pipedrive, Grammarly, Zapier, Twilio, and Aircall. This means you can streamline your workflow and maximize your productivity without any extra effort.

Missive also offers advanced features including:

While we can’t argue that Gmail is a great tool for personal emails, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it was not built for collaboration and shared inboxes.


How do I create a shared inbox in Gmail?

You have two ways to create a shared inbox in Gmail. The first option is to add delegates to a Gmail account so they can manage emails in a certain inbox. The other option is to create a Collaborative Inbox in Google Groups to collaborate on a shared email alias.

Can you have shared inboxes for Gmail?

Yes, have shared inboxes for Gmail. A shared inbox allows multiple people to access and manage the same set of emails. This can be useful for teams or groups that need to collaborate on a specific set of emails. By setting up a Collaborative Inbox for your Gmail, everyone who needs access can easily view and respond to emails, making communication and collaboration more efficient.

How does shared mailbox work in Gmail?

A shared mailbox in Gmail allows multiple people to access and manage the same set of emails. When you set up a shared mailbox, all users who have access to it can read and reply to emails, mark them as read, and delete them. This is useful for teams or groups who need to collaborate on a specific email address, as it allows everyone to work together more efficiently.

In Gmail, a shared mailbox is set up by granting access to another Gmail user. This can be done by adding a delegate or using a Collaborative Inbox in Google Groups.

Ludovic Armand

Digital Marketing Lead at Missive
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