The most basic way to find a discussion group in which you're interested is to browse through those that are available. Google Groups are organized in directory fashion, and browsing to find the one you want is quite easy. But as you'll see, after you find a group you want to participate in, the interface you use to read the postings for the group can be a bit confusing. The following steps help you out so you'll be able to do it in a snap.
Go to Google Groups
Get to the main Google Groups site by entering the following URL in your browser's address bar: http://groups.google.com. (Alternatively, click the Groups link at the top of any Google page.) Before going to the Google Groups site, sign into your Google account because doing so enables you to customize how the Google Groups page looks.
Click a Main Category
The main Google Groups page lists top-level categories, such as Arts and Entertainment, Computers, Home, Recreation, and so on. Click the category in which you're interested.
If you're familiar with Usenet, you know that Usenet newsgroups are organized in top-level categories such as alt (for alternative), rec (for recreation), and so on. If you'd like to browse by the traditional Usenet categorization scheme, click the Browse all of Usenet link on the main page of Google Groups.
At the top of the category results page, Google lists all the appropriate subcategories. Each category has subcategories, and those subcategories might have sub-subcategories beneath them. Next to each subcategory you see the number of groups within that category. Keep clicking until you find the group you want. Note that as you click deeper into subcategories, you are able to see the trail you've taken near the top of the page, such as All groups > Recreation > Sports > Swimming and Diving. You can click on any part of the trail to move up to a higher level in the trail. The listings at the top of the category results page are also organized by topic, language, region, activity, and members. Follow those links to help you more quickly find the group you want.
Read the Group Description
As you browse through categories and subcategories, look for the discussion groups listed underneath the subcategory listings. For each group, you see a name, a description, and the number of members in the group. Read through this information to determine whether this might be a group that interests you. If a group name has the word restricted next to it, that means someone has set up the group and restricted it to only members he invites to the group.
Go to a Group
To go to a group, click its name. On the group page that appears, you see a list of the titles of the most recent topics, along with the first several lines of each topic, how many responses are in each topic, and how many authors are participating in each topic. Down the right side of the page you find older topics that are still activein other words, people are still posting messages to them.
On the left side of the page are links to any groups you've recently visited. To clear out the list of recently visited groups, click the Clear link. Note that this action clears your Recently visited groups, but not the groups underneath My recent groups. The My recent groups list contains groups to which you subscribe; The Recently visited list contains groups you've recently visited but to which you have not subscribed. You might want to clear the Recently visited list if it becomes too long and unwieldy.
Read Group Messages
Click the read more link underneath a topic, and you are able to read the messages posted in that topic. Messages are organized in chronological orderthe first message is listed first, the second message listed second, and so on. That means that the newest messages are at the bottom of the list. There is a limit of 10 posts per page; to get to the next 10 posts, click the Newer >> link at the bottom of the page.
At the top of each post you see the name of the person who wrote the postthe name is in colored, reverse text. To learn how to respond to a message, see Participate in Google Group Discussions.
Change to Tree View
If you prefer, you can view the group in tree view. In a tree view, on the left side of the page, you see a list of all the messages in the topic and can navigate to any by clicking on it. The tree view also shows you which messages are in response to other messages by indenting them. To change to the tree view, scroll to the post at the top of the message thread and click the view as tree link located just underneath the thread title. When you click the link, all threads are displayed in the tree view. To leave the tree view, click the No frame link in the left pane of the tree view.
Note that some groups require that you first apply for membership before you can read them. For these membership groups, you see a Join this group link. Click the link and sign in to Google if you haven't done so already. After you sign in, a new page appears. Select how you want to read messages from the group (as email messages, on the Web, and so on), type the name you want to appear when you participate, and then click Apply to this group. The group owner will review your request and either allow or disallow you from participating in the group.