Update: Related posts: (1) Setting up a new email address in Google Apps and (2) Setting up an email group (or forwarder) in Google Apps.
Note: I’m using GoDaddy in the example below because they give you full control of the DNS features of your domain. If you don’t have your domain there, you can learn how to transfer your domain to GoDaddy here.
Using Google Apps, you can now set up your MX records to use firstname.lastname@example.org directly in Gmail. This isn’t using POP to get your mail but telling mail that goes to your domain to basically use Google’s servers as your personal mail servers. Please note, this is NOT a regular Gmail account, but an email account (a domain even) that’s using Google Apps.
Here’s a good link to help you set up your own email program with email@example.com using Google Apps.
Update: Video/screencast below giving you a step-by-step how-to for setting up your domain to use Google Apps.
You can use Google’s slick interface to get your mail. It’s always going to be here:
But you can also customize it so you get your mail from a friendlier URL: http://mail.yourdomain.com
Then login with your email and pass (firstname.lastname@example.org and your pass).
If you’d like to get your email in your email program (e.g. Outlook, Mac Mail, etc.), here are some screenshots to help you set the configuration.
More reasons to switch
- Seven Reasons You Should Switch From Yahoo to Gmail
- Newest Gmail features now available for Google Apps users
How to Set it Up
If terms such as “MX Records” and “IMAP” or “POP” scare you away, you don’t need to read any further. I’m going to explain the process here … mostly for myself so I don’t forget the zillion steps!
To put it simply, what we’re doing here is, at the domain level, telling email to use one server/host and the website another server/host (see Google help on MX records). We split that up at the domain registrar (e.g. GoDaddy). Another beautiful little tool that Google provides is an automated program that will change all of your MX records within your GoDaddy account (you’ll need to log in) to what they should be. Voila, done.
OK, OK, not quite. You still need to go into GoDaddy into their Total DNS Control Panel and change the “A” record so that the domain points to where your website is hosted. You’ll need to know the IP address of your site. Put it in, wait an hour, your site is back up and running.
Once your Google Apps account is set up, you’ll need to set up email addresses. Once you do that, if there’s a bunch of mail on your old server, you can set it up to POP it in the Settings –> Accounts. Since you probably already changed the DNS info on your domain, you’ll have to use the IP address for the incoming POP mail server. Works like a charm.
Another nice feature is the ability to set a CNAME record in your registrar so that you can get this new webmail at http://mail.yourdomain.com. If you choose not to or don’t care, you can still get your mail at https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomainhere.com.
Here’s a small screenshot from GoDaddy. For this shot, I’m in Domain Manager and then click Launch at the DNS Manager. See Launch in blue (link).
Below is a larger screenshot for the CNAME settings. This is once you’re in the DNS manager and have the A record, CNAME records, TXT records and MX records. You can change them, add, delete, all in this one screen.
Google only does “labels” and I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get the Sent Mail from the old server into Google’s Sent Mail “folder.” Sure, I could put it all in the inbox on the old server, then POP it while setting a label for that mail to be “Sent” but that’s just more incoming mail labeled as Sent. Not bad, but not ideal. If you only have a handful of sent mail on your old server, I wouldn’t bother with these steps, but I’m moving a client’s mail now and she had 1,000+ sent emails.
I first set up an IMAP account for the email in my Outlook. This took a bit of tweaking as I can’t use just mail.yourdomain.com for the incoming server, but rather the IP address (e.g. 126.96.36.1999 (not a real one)). Then I synced the folders and got the sent mail into my new Outlook IMAP account (separate from my other email — I first tried Thunderbird (where I have no email of mine) but I couldn’t get this next step to work.
Google Email Uploader
Then Google provides the Google Email Uploader. Install the little program, sign in with your Google Apps email account and then choose which folders you want to sync. I just chose the Sent Mail folder from my client’s mail. It’s busy now, says it’ll take an hour or two, but it’s working! Aha, I see it does actually just give it a label “Inbox/Sent.” Oh well, at least it’s going in there.