Shared Inbox vs. Distribution List: Finding the Best Fit

Updated : Apr 24, 2024
11 Mins Read
How to create a distribution list for managing a team's shared inbox.

Shared Inbox vs. Distribution List: Finding the Best Fit

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Shared Inbox Vs Distribution List is tough to choose, let’s understand each of them in detail.

In business communication, email is vital. Distribution lists and shared inboxes are two options to improve efficiency. Distribution lists allow sending messages to specific team members or multiple recipients. However, replies go to the original sender, creating confusion.

Shared inboxes, accessed by multiple users, enable collaborative communication and streamlined workflows. They provide a centralized email account, improving internal team collaboration. Shared inboxes are preferable to distribution lists for effective communication and efficient collaboration.

Key Takeaway :

In business communication, choosing between a shared inbox and a distribution list is crucial. A shared inbox, allowing multiple users to access a centralized email account, is preferable for effective communication and efficient collaboration, while a distribution list is ideal for sending emails to multiple recipients but lacks the advanced collaboration features of a shared inbox.

What is The Shared Inbox?

A Shared Inbox is a great solution for collaboration and communication, especially compared to a distribution list. With a shared inbox, multiple users can access a single email address, promoting efficient collaboration and enabling a support team to handle incoming emails effectively.

Shared inbox vs distribution list

It eliminates the need for individual email accounts and provides a centralized email inbox for the team to manage. Unlike a distribution list, a shared mailbox allows users to reply to messages individually or collectively, ensuring prompt responses to emails sent to the shared address.

Setting up a shared mailbox can be done in email clients like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail. Users with access to the shared inbox can log in using their own usernames and passwords, granting them access to the shared mailbox and its associated email address. This eliminates the need for multiple email accounts and simplifies the workflow.

Shared mailboxes offer several advantages over distribution lists. They provide a collaborative inbox where team members can work together, share information, and assign tasks.

This facilitates efficient collaboration and internal communication. Additionally, shared mailboxes ensure that emails sent to the shared address are visible to all team members, avoiding confusion and duplication of efforts.

Read More: Top 6 Benefits of Customer Service Shared Inbox in Your Business

Features and Uses of Shared Inboxes


A shared inbox enables teams to collaborate effectively by providing a centralized platform for communication and coordination. Team members can work together on emails, share information, and discuss strategies within the shared inbox.

Multiple Users:

Multiple team members can access and manage the shared inbox simultaneously. This ensures that everyone has real-time access to emails, allowing for efficient teamwork and prompt responses.

Customer Support:

Shared inboxes are particularly useful for customer support teams. They facilitate the efficient handling of customer emails, enabling collaboration among support agents to provide timely and consistent responses.

Streamlined Communication:

With a shared inbox, team members can send and receive emails using a single email address. This ensures consistent and efficient communication, as all correspondence is centralized in one location.

Access Control:

User access to the shared inbox can be managed through usernames and passwords. This ensures that only authorized individuals can access and contribute to the shared inbox, maintaining security and privacy.

Efficient Workflow:

A shared inbox eliminates the need for forwarding or CC-ing emails. Team members can directly handle emails within the shared inbox, streamlining the workflow and reducing duplication of efforts.

Centralized Message Storage:

All messages received in the shared inbox are stored in a centralized location. This makes it easy to search, track, and refer to previous conversations, promoting organization and efficiency.

Assigning and Tracking:

Shared inboxes often include features that allow team members to assign emails to specific individuals and track their progress. This ensures that emails are properly assigned, prioritized, and followed up on.

Shared Address:

Users can send emails from the shared address, maintaining a consistent and professional appearance to external recipients. This helps in building brand identity and ensures a unified communication channel.

Collaboration Tools:

Some shared inbox software offers additional collaboration tools, such as shared calendars, notes, or task management. These features enhance teamwork and facilitate coordination within the best shared inbox software


Shared inbox software solutions allow integration with other tools and platforms, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This integration streamlines processes and enhances productivity by providing a seamless flow of information.

Improved Productivity:

Shared inboxes promote efficient communication, collaboration, and task management, leading to increased productivity within the team. It eliminates the need for multiple email exchanges and improves response times.

Email Management:

Team members can organize, categorize, and prioritize emails within the shared inbox. This ensures efficient management of incoming messages, making it easier to handle high volumes of emails effectively.

Clear Ownership:

Best Shared inboxes allow team members to take ownership of specific emails or threads. This ensures that each message receives proper attention and avoids confusion or duplication of efforts.

Seamless Transition:

If team members change or new members join, they can easily pick up where others left off in the shared inbox. The shared history of emails and conversations provides continuity in customer interactions and facilitates a smooth transition.

Know about Shared Inbox Feature of Desku

Desku is one of the best-shared inbox solutions that bring ease in managing customer support queries. Shared Email that is connected with access to a shared mailbox where you do not need to provide the credentials to your support team and still be on the same page. 

There are so many features that describe Desku’s Shared Inbox, let’s get into each one of them.

The shared inbox of Desku is AI-powered and it lets you conduct the customer queries like never before. 

Ticket Summary 

Shared inbox tools provide a ticket summary feature that gives a concise overview of the customer inquiry, allowing support agents to quickly understand the context and respond accordingly.

Sentiment Analysis 

Shared Inbox Tools that allow sentiment analysis capabilities, which automatically analyze the sentiment or tone of customer emails, helping support agents gauge customer satisfaction levels and respond appropriately.

Suggested Answer

Suggested answer features included in shared inbox software provide pre-written responses or templates that support agents can use to respond to common customer inquiries efficiently.

What is Distribution List?

A distribution list, also known as a distribution group, is a feature that allows you to create a list of email recipients under a single email address. When an email is sent to the distribution list, it is distributed to all the email addresses included in the list.

Distribution lists are great for sending emails to multiple people at once, such as announcements or updates. However, they lack the collaborative features and shared access provided by a shared mailbox.

In contrast, a shared mailbox is a mailbox that can be accessed and managed by multiple users. It enables efficient communication and collaboration among team members. With a shared mailbox, multiple people can access the same mailbox, collaborate on messages, and stay in sync.

This is particularly useful for teams or groups who need to work together on incoming emails. Popular email providers like Outlook or Gmail offer shared mailbox solutions, such as Microsoft 365, as part of their offerings.

To summarize, distribution lists allow you to send emails to multiple recipients using a single email address, while a shared mailbox is a collaborative tool that allows multiple users to access and manage a single mailbox. If you need to collaborate with multiple people and streamline your email workflow, a shared mailbox is recommended.

When You Should Use the Distribution List?

Sending Emails to Multiple Recipients

Distribution lists are ideal when you need to send emails to a group of people using a single email address. Instead of manually adding individual email addresses, you can simply send the email to the distribution list, and it will be distributed to all members.

Broadcast Announcements or Updates

If you have important announcements or updates that need to reach a large audience, a distribution list can efficiently deliver the message to multiple recipients simultaneously.

Maintaining a Common Email Address

Distribution lists provide a single email address that can be used by multiple people. This is useful when you want to maintain a shared email identity for a specific purpose, such as a customer support email address.

Simplifying Access and Management

With a distribution list, recipients can easily access emails sent to the list without the need for shared access to a mailbox. Each member can receive messages individually in their personal email inbox.

Sending From a Personal Email Address

When using a distribution list, you can send emails from your personal email address while still reaching all recipients. This allows you to maintain your individual identity and ensures that replies are directed to your personal inbox.

Quick Setup and Management

Creating and managing distribution lists is relatively easy and can be done within most email clients or applications, such as Outlook or Gmail.

Avoiding Overwhelming Individual Inboxes

Instead of flooding individual inboxes with multiple copies of the same email, a distribution list ensures that the message is received only once by each recipient.

Remember, while distribution lists are useful for sending emails to multiple recipients, they may not provide the same level of collaboration and shared access as a shared mailbox. Consider the specific needs of your communication and collaboration before deciding whether to use a distribution list or a shared mailbox.

Which is better for team communication, a shared inbox or a distribution list?

When it comes to team communication, a shared inbox is often better than a distribution list. Shared email accounts allow team members to collaborate more efficiently, keep track of conversations, and access important information. This can lead to improved productivity and better overall communication within the team.

What are The Disadvantages of the Distribution List?

The distribution list has several disadvantages compared to other options such as shared mailboxes or shared inboxes. Here are some points addressing the disadvantages of using a distribution list in point-wise content:

  1. Lack of Centralized Management
    Distribution lists are typically managed by individual users, which can lead to inconsistencies and difficulties in managing membership, permissions, and access control. There is no centralized control over the distribution list, making it challenging to enforce uniform policies and settings.
  2. Limited Collaboration Feature
    Distribution lists primarily serve as a means to distribute emails to a group of recipients. They lack advanced collaboration features found in shared mailboxes or shared inboxes, such as shared calendars, task management, or document collaboration.
  3. Inefficient Email Management
    When an email is sent to a distribution list, each member of the list receives a separate copy of the email. This can lead to increased storage requirements, duplicate conversations, and difficulties in tracking and organizing discussions.
  4. Lack of Individual Accountability
    With distribution lists, it can be challenging to identify who has responded or taken action on a particular email. Since emails are sent to a group, individual accountability and tracking can become convoluted.
  5. Limited Access Control
    Distribution lists often lack granular access control options. Once a user is added to a distribution list, they typically have access to all emails sent to that list, which may not be ideal for sensitive or confidential information.
  6. Username and Password Dependencies
    In some cases, accessing a distribution list requires users to know the username and password of the shared mailbox associated with the list. This introduces security risks and can be cumbersome for managing access.
  7. Potential for Spam and Clutter
    If a distribution list is used inappropriately or shared publicly, it can become susceptible to spam or irrelevant messages. This can clutter inboxes and hinder productivity.
  8. Limited Organizational Visibility
    Unlike shared mailboxes or shared inboxes, distribution lists do not provide a centralized location for all members to view and access emails. This lack of visibility can result in information silos and hinder collaboration.
  9. Inconsistent Email Appearance
    Emails received through a distribution list may appear differently in recipients’ inboxes, depending on their email client or settings. This inconsistency can affect the overall professional appearance of the communication.
  10. Challenges in Email Archiving
    Archiving and retaining email records can be more difficult with distribution lists since emails are sent to multiple recipients. It can be challenging to maintain a comprehensive record of all email correspondence.

When considering the use of distribution lists, it is important to evaluate the specific requirements and consider alternative solutions like shared mailboxes or shared inboxes that offer enhanced collaboration and management capabilities.

Read More: How to Set Up Shared Inbox for Teams with Desku?

An Overview: Distribution lists or Shared Inbox?

Shared Email Inbox
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An email inbox is an individual’s personal space to receive, organize, and manage incoming emails.
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It is associated with a specific email address and accessed through email clients or web-based interfaces like Outlook.
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Users can receive emails directly in their inboxes from various senders.
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Emails in the inbox are typically private and intended for the individual recipient.
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Distribution List
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A distribution list is a group email address that allows sending emails to multiple recipients simultaneously.
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It consists of a single email address but represents a group or collection of individual email addresses.
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When an email is sent to a distribution list, it is automatically forwarded to all members of the list.
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Distribution lists are commonly used for announcements, team updates, or disseminating information to a specific group of people.

In summary, an email inbox is an individual’s personal space to manage their incoming emails, while a distribution list is a group email address that allows sending messages to multiple recipients simultaneously. The inbox focuses on individual communication, whereas the distribution list enables efficient communication with predefined groups.

Gaurav Nagani
Gaurav Nagani
As Founder & CEO of, Gaurav has made a distinct mark in the customer support and ai bot field. His commitment to AI-enhanced solutions and his industry experience have been instrumental in modernizing customer service.

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