Hiding Office 365 Groups from Outlook and OWA

The clutter created by Office 365 Groups adoption across organizations is slowly turning into a problem, and Microsoft is taking the first steps to address the issue. In case you have missed it, the following message appeared on the Office 365 Roadmap recently (Item ID 26955):

Being the curious type, I tried to find out what the corresponding Unified Group attribute will govern this in PowerShell and it seems that the answer is: –HideFromExchangeClients. The cmdlets against witch to use this parameter is of course Set-UnifiedGroup, and here’s an example of it’s usage:

Set-UnifiedGroup Team688 -HideFromExchangeClients

Note that this is a switch parameter, thus it does not require a value if you want to enable the behavior. If you want to disable it, or simply want to use a consistent syntax, you can also do it by providing the $true or $false value. For example:

Set-UnifiedGroup Team688 -HideFromExchangeClients:$true

To check the status of this setting across your Office 365 Groups, look at the HiddenFromExchangeClients attribute (yes, the name is actually different, hidden vs hide):

# Get-UnifiedGroup | Ft Name,Alias,Hidd*

Name                            Alias          HiddenGroupMembershipEnabled HiddenFromExchangeClients HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled
----                            -----          ---------------------------- ------------------------- -----------------------------

SharePoint                      SharePoint                            False                     False                          True
Team_6ae98f5c3d                 Team                                  False                     False                         False
Team688_e7690edf9f            Team688                             False                      True                          True

To disable the setting use the following:

Set-UnifiedGroup Team688 -HideFromExchangeClients:$false

A warning is due here. Setting the value of the HideFromExchangeClients parameter automatically toggles the value of the HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled as well, so keep that in mind. This goes for both enabling and disabling the HideFromExchangeClients setting! You can still toggle the HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled attribute individually, although I have no information as to whether having different values for those two parameters is a supported configuration or not.

Which brings us to another topic – support for this feature in the Outlook and OWA clients. Even after waiting few days, no apparent changes were observed in the list of team-related Groups displayed in either of the clients, so it seems like the relevant code changes are yet to be pushed. As the feature is still “under development”, this is not a surprise, but it’s again something to keep in mind. I will update the article once the changes are rolled out and will also try to include a matrix of the desired/possible combinations of the two parameters discussed above.

Lastly, it’s worth reminding that Exchange is just one of the workloads that display a list of Teams/Groups. While this feature is a good start, I do hope Microsoft will address the numerous examples of feedback from customers and MVPs in regards to the junk created by Groups across the service. Some go as far as campaigning for individual toggles for each Group component (Mailbox, OneDrive store, Planner, Team, etc), which is unlikely to happen unless Microsoft revamps the Groups model entirely. But as more and more Groups appear in our directories, it’s clear that some improvements are needed, and fast.

UPDATE: Both Outlook an OWA now correctly respect this setting. Any Groups for which HideFromExchangeClients is set to True will not be visible on the left nav menu, however you can still access them on demand (use Browse Groups in Outlook or the full path to a Group in OWA).

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