I haven't been able to find information on these hidden smart groups anywhere using google or this forum. Perhaps because they are hidden on purpose?

I'm wondering what these groups are, and why, when I schedule a mass mailing using civiMail targeting search results rather than a group with an unsubscribe group, the last step says something like:

"Include: Search Results (####)

Include: Hidden Smart Group (84)

Exclude: A group I need to exclude (###)"

Are those 84 people in my initial search? I'm hoping that we are not emailing folks that have not subscribed to this mailing list.

84 does not match the number of people in the unsubscribe group we are using.

Thanks for any explanation available!

1 Answer 1


The search needs to persist through your whole mailing process, so it gets treated as a "hidden smart group". It's silly of CiviCRM not to explain better, but that's the deal. No mystery hidden people getting added without your knowledge.

  • Andrew, can u elaborate, since I am also confused. I thought hidden groups are groups that have been deleted, but persist as hidden groups in CiviCRM in case there is any unsubscribe information being stored in the hidden group. And if you use "search results" to specify email recipients, you need to specify how you will collect unsubscribes, hence the reason for a list of available groups (ie create a group called "unsubscribed"). I want to delete the "Hidden Groups" in the database since they were created in error and never used. Is that a bad idea? Sep 6, 2016 at 17:34
  • I think there are three similar but unrelated concepts in what you're describing, Nina. When you send to search results, the search results themselves are stored as a hidden smart group. Meanwhile, you're required to choose an unsubscribe group to record the unsubscribe requests that come in and suppress messages to people who have unsubscribed from similar emails. Finally, there's what you describe happening with the deleted groups. I didn't know about that feature of deleted groups sticking around, though I do know that there were once problems with emails sent to deleted groups.
    – Andie Hunt
    Sep 6, 2016 at 19:19
  • But as for deleting hidden groups, that seems like a job that's high risk and low reward.
    – Andie Hunt
    Sep 6, 2016 at 19:20

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