Enabling email for a test group of admin but not all users

We are transitioning a number of discussion groups from a custom system to discourse but we need to do testing. We have all email turned off so that users don’t start receiving messages until we are ready .
Is there a way to turn email on for admin so we can complete the testing and see how messages appear, etc?

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You can enable emails for staff members (admins and moderators) by setting the disable emails site setting to “non-staff”. On your site that setting is probably currently set to “yes”.


Thanks Simon. I checked that setting and it is already set to “non-staff” but we aren’t getting the emails sent to our test group.

If your test group is made up of staff members on the site, they should be able to receive emails sent from the site. Discourse notifications do not automatically generate emails though. There are a couple of things you can check.

First, make sure that the users are receiving notifications for the group messages. When you create a Discourse group, that group’s default Notification level is set to “Watching.” This means that users will receive a notification for every new message in a PM. This default setting can be overridden in the group’s Interaction section. The setting can also be overridden by individual users. If a user changes their notification level for a group inbox to something other than Watching, it will affect their notifications:

If your users are receiving notifications on Discourse, but are not receiving emails, the most likely cause is that they are active on the site at the time the notification was created. If a user is on the site when the receive a notification, by default, Discourse will not send them an email about it. Users can override this behaviour on their preferences page:

Users can also enable Mailing list mode. When enabled, they will receive a notification for every post created on the site.


Thanks again Simon. That is helpful.

Can we globally set all our users to the same email setting? I.e. can we turn the email notification on by default for all our users?

Yes, Discourse has some email settings that you can use to set default values for your user’s email preferences. These default values can still be overridden by users on their preferences page. You can find the default settings by going to your Admin / Settings page and entering default email into the search box. The setting that you should check are:

  • default email level: This setting has a default value of “only when away.” If you would like users to receive email notifications for activity that occurs in regular topics even when the user has visited the forum when the notification was created, change this setting to “always.”

  • default email messages level: This setting has a default value of “always.” This means that by default, users will alway be sent an email when a PM is sent directly to them.

When you change and save either of the above settings, a modal window will open asking you if you would like to apply the change historically. Select Yes to apply the change to all existing users on your site.

You will see that there is also a default email mailing list mode site setting. Enabling this setting will set the email preference for all new users on your site to “Mailing list mode.” This default setting does not have an option to apply the change historically. Enabling mailing list mode for all users on a site can cause a huge number of unwanted emails to be sent, so the setting should be enabled with caution.

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