Host Your Domain Email at Gmail (Without Forwarding)

October 3, 2009

Google Apps for Your DomainIf you already own a domain name like yourname.com, you want to use your personalized email address--but you don't want to advertise to the world you're forwarding to and sending those messages from Gmail. While you can manage multiple email accounts inside Gmail by using forwarding, the POP fetcher, and different reply-to addresses, there's an easier way--especially for groups like your family or small business. Google Apps Standard Edition (formerly known as "Google Apps for Your Domain") can host your personal email at Gmail, but without tying you to a gmail.com address for free. Obviously you'll need a domain to use this service, which will cost something to register. When you sign up for a Google Apps account, you'll have to set your domain name's email MX record to point to Google's servers (you'll get instructions on how to do that when you sign up). Once that's done, you've got Gmail behind your personalized domain name. The Google Apps Standard Edition includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sites (for simple web pages).

There are two main advantages to using Google Apps (for your domain). 1.) You can easily create other users at your domain. If my email is gina@example.com, and I'm the domain administrator, I can set up addresses for my co-workers or softball team members too and make jack@example.com and jill@example.com accounts. Then everyone at my domain can collaborate on documents and a shared calendar easily. 2.) If you decide you don't like Gmail anymore? Just point your MX record to another host and you're done. Your email address never changes, like it would if you wanted to bail on your you@gmail.com address. Back when it used to be called "Google Apps for Your Domain", I explained more in detail how it works over at Lifehacker with some screenshots, then later at a post at HarvardBusiness.org. Check 'em out:

How to Make Your Small Business Look Big [HarvardBusiness.org]
Ask Lifehacker: What Does Google Apps for Your Domain Actually Do? [Lifehacker]

Gina,

Google Apps with Gmail is a perfect solution for email hosting indeed. However, pointing your domain to Google Apps still requires some basic knowledge about the Domain Name System (DNS). Unfortunately not all domain registrars give you full control over the DNS settings so you should make sure to have access to the following record types:

– CNAME (for verifying & subdomains such as. mail.yourdomain.com)
– MX (points to Google’s mail servers)
– SRV (required for using Google Talk on your domain)

As not everybody feels comfortable using Google for email hosting, here are two alternatives:

http://business.zoho.com
http://fastmail.fm

There are many other web apps for hosting your domain by the way. We offer an easy setup for the most popular services over at iWantMyName: http://iwantmyname.com/features/custom-domain-applications-and-dns

Cheers,
Timo

Timo Reitnauer [+2]
Oct 3 09 at 8:10 pm

I’ve been using a forwarder from my own domain to a gmail address.

Is there any way to move the emails from a regular gmail account to a google apps account? I’d hate to lose all of that mail.

Crossbar
Oct 3 09 at 9:29 pm

Do you see any real advantage of using Google Apps for Business for inviduals, or are the added “features” just not worth it?

I have an interesting issue with Google Apps. My main (pre-signing up for Apps) Google log-in used my own domain rather than a gmail.com address, so when it came to moving to Google Apps, I effectively ended up with two Google accounts that use the same login address.

This seems to confuse Google even more than me, because as far as I can tell, logging in to Google Apps also logs me into my old Google account (Adsense, Adwords, Analaytics, etc).

But now there are some services like contacts and calendars that I have two separate copies of, and get different content, depending on which domain I go to.

That would be fine, but third party calendar/contact syncing software tries to get data from my old Google account rather than my Google apps login, and I end up having to manually keep the two in sync.

I really wish there was a way to fix this or merge everything into a single account, but so many of the fine details behind Google logins just don’t seem to have been thought through. Google Apps is a fantastic product, but trying to get it to work right for me has caused my all kinds of headaches. My advice therefore is to think very carefully before using it for anything critical.

Dom Ramsey [+1]
Oct 4 09 at 2:25 am

I have the same issue. This is troulesome. For instance when using the google toolbar you can’t login with your google app account only with my previous gmail account. It’s time google makes migration possible or expands their toolbars and the like also for google app.
Kind regards Walter

I’ve been using a forwarder from my own domain to a gmail address.

Is there any way to move the emails from a regular gmail account to a google apps account? I’d hate to lose all of that mail.
Yes there is.

On your regular gmail go to Settings >Forwarding and POP/IMAP:
*Disable the forwarding to your google apps domain e-mail
*Enable POP for all mail
*Change setting of “When messages are accessed with POP” to your liking.
*Save changes

Go to your google apps gmail and go to Settings > Accounts and Import:
*Import mail and contacts (and follow the wizard).

After import you can disable the pop3 in your regular gmail. Then you can forward the mail to your domain (apps) if anybody might send mail to it.


Great post Gina…

Like Walter and Dom I don’t like the two accounts (Google Apps and Google Account). You should be able to integrate you ‘old’ Google Account(s) with your Apps.

Although I am still missing Google Reader for starters in the possible apps to use in Google Apps.

Graham [+1]
Oct 4 09 at 4:45 pm

Great stuff Gina. I am a user of Google Apps but I still use my standard gmail account as my day-in/day-out account because that is where the Reader is and where Voice is. It just seems like Apps are the last places to get all the new stuff so I don’t want to set up too much infrastructure on the Apps side of things. Am I nuts?

jsteffen
Oct 5 09 at 6:59 am

Well said Gina. I figured out how get to the set-up you talk about here pretty much by accident. I’m a low-to-mid tech type of guy, and when I bought my domain, I went through the Blogger path to my domain provider…next thing I know, with minimal intervention, I’ve got a gmail provided address at mydomain.com. I’ve even added a few would-be authors as users, and it’s been working nicely (now if only I could get them to take deadlines seriously).

As far as keeping personal and “business” separate, I’ve found that using incognito mode in Chrome is a surefire way to have both of them open and active at the same time, since the two can’t “see” each other. Again, low-to-mid tech here, so maybe that doesn’t get the job done for people with higher demands, but it’s been working for me.

And, since it’s my first comment on any of your work, I feel obligated to inform you that I’m a huge follower/fan, and I really like what you’ve done with this here Smarterware and your contributions to TWiG. Keep up the awesome work!

FalseTraveler
Oct 5 09 at 9:42 am

I moved my domain and email to Google Apps recently (thanks to what I heard on TWiG)… and was mislead a little by the title of this article …

I thought you had found the way to actually connect to the DOMAIN without forwarding …

Being a little more familiar with DNS and someone who is very aware of the URL’s …

When we host our emails at Google and we use Google Apps Standard … notice that I may enter http://mail.example.com however as soon as that resolves it “redirects” or “Forwards” to https://mail.google.com/a/example.com

So appearing “Big” or seeming to host your own domain is immediately gone as soon as anyone looks at the URL ….

I believe if we had a PAID FOR account this Domain name forward issue is taken care of.

Appreciate you and yours!!

MikeDaGeek [+1]
Oct 5 09 at 11:42 am

this tip finally got me around to reserving the domain name i’ve been wanting for my personal site. thanks, gina! great tip!

Tim Gomez [+1]
Oct 5 09 at 11:20 pm

To add to the GREAT TIP (because I did use that tip to move my domains)

is this additive

http://mail.google.com/mail/help/email_uploader.html

You can migrate emails from the existing server/account back into the domain now being hosted at google.

I personally had close to 1GB of saved emails (been running my own server for awhile and am a packrat when it comes to bytes) I used this tool to upload all of those emails to google apps and have full access be it on my mobile or from any internet connected computer …

and the spam filters are better than any open source combo I was ever able to waste time maintaining …

MikeDaGeek [+1]
Oct 6 09 at 5:15 am

Aloha,

What about a catch-all type account, where every address not explicitly assigned goes instestead of bouncing?
I use this so that I can register with web sites that want my email as “theirsitename@domain.com”. This also allows me to see who sells my email to spammers and turn off some addresses if they get misused.

Thanks

Jerry
Oct 7 09 at 4:37 pm

@Crossbar: Is there any way to move the emails from a regular gmail account to a google apps account? I’d hate to lose all of that mail.

Yes. Set up IMAP access on your new and old account. Launch a desktop IMAP client like Thunderbird. Drag and drop the email from your old account into your new one.

@Ivan: Do you see any real advantage of using Google Apps for Business for inviduals, or are the added “features” just not worth it?

They’re not currently worth it for me as an individual, but if I was a small biz, definitely.

@Walter and @Dom: It’s true; not all Google apps work with domain accounts. I log into my vanilla Gmail account for Reader, Voice, and Wave. The rest I use my domain account.

@Jerry: You can set up a “catch-all” email address using Google apps for your domain, which is a nice bonus.

Gina Trapani [+195]
Oct 8 09 at 9:24 am

Okay, I am doing everything wrong. (But thanks for making me check this). Here’s my deal. I have a personal gmail account, let’s say it’s: confusedguy@gmail.com. I signed up with godaddy to get my domain of brammofan.com I went through (I thought) all the set up at godaddy to have google apps host my email. THEN, I linked my gmail account to that brammofan address, THINKING that I could just log into my usual confusedguy@gmail.com account and see my brammofan mail (which I can), AND send email from my confusedguy address AS brammofan. But now, I see that all my email still shows up with the “confusedguy@gmailcom on behalf of (brammofan) etc”. Must I stop sending email from my confusedguy address if I want my brammofan domain to show up as the From: address? Do I have to log into two google accounts each day? (E.g. using firefox and IE as the separate logins?) I’m usually pretty web savvy but now, I’m wondering.

Brammofan
Oct 8 09 at 10:43 am

@Brammofan

The short answer is no…you just have to go back into your gmail settings…then click the accounts and settings tab…then click on the “send mail as” button (or click “edit” if you are already sending mail as “brammofan”)

When the pop up window opens choose your send name and email address that you want to send mail as…then click “next” …

On the next screen select the second choice and choose “Send through brammofan.ca SMTP servers” and fill in the server settings for brammofan….

Cick save or finish and your emails will now send from Gmail and look like they came from “youraddress@brammofan.com”…

I use this for my personal setup as I wanted to keep all my existing Google services…So I use Google Apps for my work mail server but have it forward all the incoming mail to my personal Gmail address….and then configure Gmail as above so my outgoing emails for work appear exactly as if they came from a custom domain email server….

Hope this helps….

MichaelonTech [+2]
Oct 14 09 at 9:15 pm

Sorry for the double reply…but I think I messed up the formatting of the previous reply…my apologies….

To @brammofan question:

“Must I stop sending email from my confusedguy address if I want my brammofan domain to show up as the From: address? Do I have to log into two google accounts each day?”

The short answer is no…you just have to go back into your gmail settings…then click the accounts and settings tab…then click on the “send mail as” button (or click “edit” if you are already sending mail as “brammofan”)

When the pop up window opens choose your send name and email address that you want to send mail as…then click “next” …

On the next screen select the second choice and choose “Send through brammofan.ca SMTP servers” and fill in the server settings for brammofan….

Cick save or finish and your emails will now send from Gmail and look like they came from “youraddress@brammofan.com”…

I use this for my personal setup as I wanted to keep all my existing Google services…So I use Google Apps for my work mail server but have it forward all the incoming mail to my personal Gmail address….and then configure Gmail as above so my outgoing emails for work appear exactly as if they came from a custom domain email server….

Hope this helps….

MichaelonTech [+2]
Oct 14 09 at 9:18 pm


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