G Suite contacts explained

An overview of G Suite contacts and the global contacts directory

Actually, what is G Suite?

G Suite started off as Google Apps for your Domain way back in 2006, changed its name to Google Apps for Business before finally becoming G Suite in late 2016. G Suite includes Google's productivity applications such as Gmail, Google Sheets, Docs, Slides, Forms and Sites, Google Drive and others. G Suite allows domain administrators to manage users and their access to these applications. G Suite is a competitor to Microsoft Office 365. For more information see the G Suite website

How does Gmail work in G Suite?

G Suite allows a company or organization to set users up with a company email address (user@mycompany.com); one user can also have multiple email addresses (known as aliases) for example sales@mycompany.com, support@mycompany.com and so on. From an individual users point of view there is no real difference between G Suite Gmail and the regular Gmail free email service - the screen used to read and send emails is exactly the same.

How do contacts work in G Suite?

As with Gmail, G Suite Contacts work in the same way as regular Google Contacts, individual users can manage their own contacts - these contacts can only be accessed by the user themselves, they are not shared with other users in the organization. Contacts are accessed in the standard way, via Google's universal navigation.

or by navigating directly to contacts.google.com. Contacts are a handy google feature - the contact's email address will appear as auto-complete entries when you send a new email, and you can also sync contacts to your mobile device (a built in feature on Android phones and via an app for the iPhone)

G Suite does add one extra feature to standard contacts - an organization-wide list of contacts known as the global contacts directory.

The G Suite global contacts directory

The G Suite global contacts directory is available to all users in a G Suite organization (unless disabled by a domain administrator). This directory appears as a folder in your contacts.

The screenshot above shows how the global directory will appear to a domain user.

Making sure domain users can see external contacts

By default, users in your G Suite organization will be able to see other users in the global directory however they won't be able to see external contacts unless this feature is specifically turned on. To enable viewing of external contacts:

  • Log into your G Suite admin console and navidate to "Directory" > "Directory Settings"

  • Enable the option to "Show both domain profiles and domain shared contacts"

Adding external contacts to the G Suite global contacts directory

Because the G Suite global directory can be accessed by all users in an organization it is a useful place to store contacts external to the company such as leads, contacts, customers and suppliers. The "catch" with this is that there is no way to add external contacts to the global directory other than by using a programming language to interact with the G Suite API.

This is where Voyzu Contacts Directory for G Suite is able to help. The voyzu web application allows domain administrators (and other company users if desired) to manage external contacts. These contacts will be available to view by all organization users.

Add directory contacts to your personal contacts

As explained above, your contacts when you are using G Suite are your own, they are not shared with any other user, including domain administrators. There is a way to add company contacts (i.e. contacts in the global directory) to your personal contacts. To do this open a directory contact and click the 'add to contacts' button on the top right of the screen. This will make a copy of the contact and add it to your contacts. You will now have two identical contacts, and its important to note that the contacts are now not linked in any way. In other words, changes to the contact you make in your personal contacts will not flow through to the directory contact, and vice-versa.