XMission's Company Journal

Zimbra Power Tip: Using Distribution Lists and Contact Groups

Time for another episode of XMission Zimbra power user tips and tricks.

Today we focus on Distribution Lists and Contact Groups.

Distribution Lists can be created by Zimbra domain administrators to handle a bevy of needs such as email forwarding, team lists, customers lists and more.

Contact Groups allow Zimbra web interface and Zimbra Desktop users to create email groups specific to their needs from their address books.  End users with popular mail clients, such as Outlook, can still use this feature by logging in to the web interface and setting up the Group from the Mail tab.


Distribution Lists

Let’s tackle domain based Distribution Lists first. We are commonly asked by domain administrators if there is a way to forward Zimbra domain email addresses without requiring an additional Zimbra account. Luckily, with distribution lists you won’t require a separate account just to forward email. This simple feature is quick and easy to setup.


Here is how Zimbra domain administrators can setup a Distribution List:


* Log in to the Admin Console as domain administrator.

* Click on “New” then scroll down and select “Distrubution List” to create a new list. We will use this list to setup the desired email forward.

* Set the target email destination as a “Member” of the list. This would be the target email address, such as or whatever you need.

* Now click on “Save”

Done! Proceed with your happy dance then get back to work.

Gotchas? Yep. You cannot set a distribution list with the same name as an existing account on the domain. You must rename or remove the Zimbra account first and then create the Distribution List. Renaming the account provides time to clear out any messages before deleting the account.


Contact Groups

Now we will cover Contact Groups for Zimbra end-user accounts. You do not need to be an administrator to access this feature. Here are the steps:

* To create lists, click on New and scroll down to Contact Groups from the pop-up menu.

* Enter a name for your list and then enter email addresses in the “Add Members to this Group” box. You can search your Contacts folder, the Global Address List, and your Personal and Shared Contacts folders for email addresses to add to your list or enter them manually in the form field located at the bottom of the “Add Members to this Group” box.

This is very slick. I use this to create custom invite lists for events and my other email broadcast needs. Distribution Lists have limitations of 1000 addresses allowed as large lists can unduly tax the mail server.

Etiquette Tip: It is an essential courtesy to always use BCC when sending to large email lists. Simply enter your email address in the To: field so they know it is from you. Sharing is caring, but not in the case of personal email addresses in group settings.


There you go, those are the basics of Distribution Lists and Contact Groups using the XMission Zimbra Suite.

I hope you had as much fun with this as I did. Zimbra is a great product with an ever expanding list of useful features that can save you time and effort. As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or suggestions for future Zimbra Power Tips.

Talk to you soon!

– John

Zimbra Product Manager for XMission


 Need help?

For more help click the Zimbra Help button within the web interface or Zimbra Desktop application, or visit XMission’s Zimbra Support page on the XMission Support Wiki. You may also email or chat with a representative at


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One thought on “Zimbra Power Tip: Using Distribution Lists and Contact Groups

  • Jennifer S. says:

    I create and manage several distribution lists for a project, and these lists change as people come on and off of the project. I use different address books to keep track of people associated with the project in different roles, and I move people in an out of those address books as needed when they change roles. Is there any way to sync a contact group to an address book, so that it automatically reflects those changes? Barring that, is there any way at least to narrow down the choice of contacts to a single address book? Currently my options are either “global” or “personal contacts,” but in both cases I have way, way too many contacts to remember everyone working in a particular role just by looking at their name …