UW Groups



UW Groups are memberships of common identifiers for people, computers, and applications. Each UW Group consists of a membership list of identifiers (e.g. UW NetIDs), plus metadata about the group, such as name, description, contact, administrators, membership viewers, and authorized senders. Each UW Group can be referenced by a unique identifier called its UW Group ID.


UW Groups support collaboration and communication by making it easier to reuse groups in tools and applications. Common uses of UW Groups include email lists, calendaring, scheduling, sharing resources, surveying, and voting.

Organizations, teams, and individuals can choose how they organize groups and where they use them. UW Groups can identify members of an organization or part of one, members with a business or security role, or members with access to a resource.


  • Music Majors (uw_major_music)
  • UW Graduate Students (uw_affiliation_graduate)
  • FISH 478a Sustainable Fish Winter 2011 (course_2011win-fish478a)
  • EDW Authorized Payroll Coordinators (u_astra_urole_payrollcoordinator)
  • Microsoft Licensing Agreement Eligible Students (uw_affiliation_mla-eligible-students)
  • Academic Affiliation Group Read Access (u_groups_affiliation_student-read)
  • iSchool Service Eligible VoiceThread (uw_ischool_service_voicethread)
  • iSchool Employees IT (uw_ischool_employees_it)

Getting Started

UW Groups Service

The UW Groups service (groups.uw.edu) is the central location where UW Groups are created, managed, and integrated into applications. Some groups are managed by teams and individuals for ad hoc purposes such as projects. Other groups are managed by UW organizational and institutional processes like student enrollment. Any member of the UW community can use the service to manage groups under his or her authority and to delegate group administration to others as needed using flexible access controls for group administrators, membership managers, and subgroup creators. Group memberships can include people, applications, and computers, as well as other UW Groups.

Tip: Any member of the UW community with a UW NetID can log in to the UW Groups Service using a web browser. Some group memberships are restricted and may not be viewed by some visitors.

How to Identify UW Groups

UW Group IDs

The UW Groups service uses a structured namespace for UW Group IDs, which allows individuals, teams, and organizations to create and manage groups independent from each other. Each group has a unique identifier called its UW Group ID, consisting of up to 128 lower-case letters, digits, dashes, and underscores. Online tools and applications that integrate UW Groups also typically refer to them by their UW Group IDs. However, UW Groups enabled for emailing the members of the group may or may not have an email address that contains the UW Group ID.


All UW Group IDs begin with a short prefix such as "u", "uw", or "course", followed by an underscore. This prefix places the group within the top-level UW Groups namespace and implies high-level characteristics such ownership or naming authority. The components following the underscore establish more specific properties, such that many UW Group IDs contain a sequence of components, each separated by an underscore, which increases in specificity from left to right.

How to Find UW Groups

Browse & Search

To find UW Groups, browse and search the UW Groups service (groups.uw.edu). If at first you don't find what you need, ask around. Your team or organization may already have created UW Groups that suit your needs. Or if you're collaborating within or across UW organizations, contact the related IT support staff to find out if a group exists for your purpose.

Tip: Many UW organizations are just getting started with UW Groups. When contacting them, describe what group membership you're looking for and what tools or applications you're hoping to use with UW Groups (e.g. "I'm contacting you because I'm trying to identify and survey folks in your department via a Catalyst WebQ and UW Groups...")

How to Choose a Home Group

Home Groups

A "home group" is used as a starting point for creating other UW Groups. Therefore, a single home group such as "uw_law" or "u_astra" can support many purposes found in many kinds of organizations, including those that organize their groups into multi-level subgroup hierarchies (e.g "uw_law_students", "uw_law_employees", "uw_law_services"). Many UW organizations and some teams already have a home group you might be able to use.

Creation Options

If you don't have a home group that meets your needs, the UW Groups service offers three options for home group creation:

  • "uw_" prefix + an organizational short name (e.g. "uw_law"), which can be requested by any UW organization by emailing help@uw.edu or created self-service by registered UW DNS subdomain contacts for the organizational short name matching their subdomain under washington.edu or uw.edu.
  • "u_" prefix + a Shared UW NetID (e.g. "u_astra"), which can be created self-service by any current administrator of the Shared UW NetID.
  • "u_" prefix + your Personal UW NetID (e.g. "u_sallysue"), which is created for you the first time you log in to the UW Groups service.

Tip: UW-IT recommends that home groups based on Personal UW NetIDs be used only for short-term team activities or personal purposes rather than critical long-term organizational purposes, since access to these groups may be lost if the group owner leaves the university.

How to Create UW Groups

With a Browser

To create UW Groups using your web browser:

  1. StepsActions
  2. Log in to the UW Groups service (groups.uw.edu) using your Personal UW NetID. (You cannot log in using a Shared UW NetID.)
  3. Click Create a group. This will display a form for creating a new group.
  4. Enter a display name. Some applications use this short name instead of the UW Group ID when referring to the group.
  5. Enter a UW Group ID. Note that the field is already populated with a stub: u_yourUWNetID. Either complete the stub to create your group ID (or you can replace it entirely). Choose a name based on a home group or other subgroup that gives you appropriate permission to create the new group. See How to Choose a Home Group above.
  6. Enter a description. A good description helps others understand how the group is managed and how it should be used.
  7. Enter a contact person. This helps people who might have questions about the group.
  8. Enter group members by UW NetID, UW Group ID, Federated ID, DNS name, or UWWI Computer name.

    Tip: You can reference other UW Groups as members, thereby creating composite or "nested" groups. You can even reference groups administered by others. But you can only do so if you can view the memberships of the groups you reference.

  9. Enter other Administrators, Member managers, and Subgroup creators, as needed.

    Tip: If you're creating a hierarchy of groups, all with the same requirements for administration, create a group that includes your administrators as members and then reference this group as the administrator of the other groups. This way you can add and remove administrators in one place.

  10. Click "Create group" to create the group. If you have permission to create the UW Group ID, the group will be created and displayed back to you. If you don't have permission to create the UW Group ID, an error message will be displayed to say you're not authorized.

From Your Own Data

If you want to create UW Groups from your own data via programmatic means, the UW Groups service supports a web service interface. To learn more, refer to the Groups Web Service REST API.

Institutional Groups


Institutional groups are UW Groups provisioned from institutional data sources with institutional standards for data management in mind: standard business definitions for membership, published data quality standards, and systematic approaches to cleanse and augment data over time. Data custodians for UW institutional data can integrate data for their business domains into the UW Groups service. Examples include:


For many UW organizations, using institutional groups, incorporating them into their own UW Groups, and applying them appropriately in multiple application contexts is essential to organizational efficiency.

Learn More

Last modified: April 10, 2015