How do I transfer ownership of a Google Group?


What many people might not realize is that Google Groups is a simple email management tool that lets you create lists of a few people up to a few hundred, with archives, moderation and complete control over who can join the list and much more. It's free and while it hasn't seen much of an improvement to its rather archaic user interface, once you get the hang of the system, it's pretty darn easy to use.

Until you need to switch a group from one owner to another. That seems to be tricky and when I've done it sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. But let's jump in!


On your Google Group, go to the basic list info screen, which looks like this:

It's not about volleyball, but it is a list I need to hand off to someone else, so it'll be the perfect guinea pig!

As list owner, you get the Manage link, which is what you want to choose. Now you'll see a list of people on the list plus their roles and posting privileges:


Notice the second column; that's critical. As the creator of your list, you'll be shown as the only Owner, so the process of handing over ownership of a list involves promoting someone else to be an Owner too, then resigning from the list.

Do this by finding the new owner on the list “ they'll probably just be a Member, checking the box adjacent to their entry, then choosing Actions > Add to Role > Owner, as shown:


Now you'll want to reload the page in your browser, that should help Google Groups recognize that there are multiple owners. Nothing changes, but you'll see, it'll often help the software recognize that you aren't still the only owner. Because the next step “ take a deep breath! “ is for you to exit the group entirely.

This time check the box adjacent to your own group membership, then choose Actions >Remove from group:

If Google Groups has seen and recognized the new group owner, you'll succeed with a message like this:

That's good. A click on Remove and you're done. Easy.

In some circumstances you might have more than one membership line in the group because you have more than one inbox (work versus personal, for example). In that case, you probably want to remove those other entries first, while you're still owner and it's easy. In that case you'll see this dialog box instead:

Where it's tricky is when you get this error instead:

In this situation you'll need to double check that you really did add that second owner, and even possibly leave and come back to Google Groups after a while to see if that helps. Of the three groups I handed over while testing this process out, two worked easy as can be, but the third hiccuped and I had to reload and wait about 30min for Google Groups to finally update some sort of internal cache and see that I had a third owner.

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