Hosted Mail (updated)

This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

A while back I did an episode of the Gmail Podcast where I showed you how to switch your internet domain to be hosted by Google’s mail servers. This gives you the freedom of managing your own mail accounts, distribution lists, and other aspects of your mail environment, while providing all the benefits of Gmail like unmatched spam filtering, a large mailbox, and all the other wonderful features Gmail has to offer.

Consider this show an update to the previous one. I noticed that the procedure has changed a bit since the last show and rather than have you frustrated at icons and links that weren’t where they were supposed to be, I figured it was time to provide you with some updated information in case you’ve been thinking of making the switch.

A little warning, of all the things I’ve covered on the Gmail Podcast, this is probably one of the more complex. Not to worry, I’ll walk you through every step. Where specialized steps are needed, depending on your configuration, I will defer to Google’s excellent step-by-step documentation.

Let me first start by explaining the basics. First, we’re going to setup a hosting account on Google for your mail. Next, we’ll tell the Internet that mail for your domain is no longer with your old hosting system, but rather, all your email should now be sent to Google’s servers where it can be transparently delivered and received by you, or anyone in your domain.

  • Start by going to http://www.google.com/a
  • Click “Get Started”
  • Next, click on “Standard Edition” (Sign Up button)
  • If you already have a domain, choose “I want to use an existing domain”, otherwise choose “Create a domain”. For this example, we’ll assume you already have a domain.
  • Enter your domain name – then click “Use my domain”
  • Fill in the fields for your name, a current valid email address, and other required information to sign up
  • When you’ve completed the necessary fields, click “Continue” button
  • On the next page, enter the email address on your domain (ex: chuck@chuckchat.com)
  • Review the terms and conditions, then click “I accept, continue with sign up”
  • Note the message at the top of the screen that reads: To activate Google Apps services you must verify that you own your domain – “yourdomain”, click on the link that says “Verify domain ownership”
  • You can either upload an HTML file or change the CNAME record. I chose to upload the HTML file. Simply follow the instructions on the page. That takes care of part of setting up the email hosting.
  • Next, you need to update your MX, or mail exchange records to have the internet know that mail to your domain should be directed to Google’s servers. After setting up the mail hosting, you should be at the dashboard. If not, go to http://www.google.com/a/yourdomainname and login. From the Dashboard, click on “Activate Email” in the Email section. Select the hosting plan you have and follow the instructions.
  • Replication of your changes may take up to 48 hours to be sent around the internet so be patient.
  • Once that is done, your email to your new domain will be delivered to a nice big, managed, Gmail mailbox.
  • If you already have one or more mailboxes hosted by Google, I might recommend your review the instructions to either get mail from your other mailbox via POP or IMAP, or Forward your domain to a central Gmail account using forwarding and Send Mail As, all of which are explained in other episodes of the Gmail Podcast.
  • I’m guilty of always assuming people use the Gmail web interface, and for that I apologize. If you are using a third party client like Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail on the Mac, or something else, you may need to go back to the DNS servers and update the POP and SMTP records as well.


There you go. Mail for your domain is now being sent to Google’s servers. Now that you’ve got the framework setup out of the way, you can use the management console on Google’s hosted site to create more users and mail lists in your new domain.

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