Saturday, November 15, 2014

Configuring Gmail for Multiple Accounts and Devices

Part I: Setting up your domain server(s) and Gmail

I’m pretty sure there is no one I know who has only one e-mail account.  This also extends to devices… other than my grandma, if you include your computer, who only has one device?

Thus, coordinating all your e-mail accounts and devices is a pretty serious necessity these days, and unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to set up… at least not so that it runs as smoothly as we’d all like.

pile_of_junk_mail_from_the_netherlandsI actually have around 25 e-mail address (I am an artist, a musician (with multiple entities), a designer, a filmmaker, a business owner, a webmaster, etc., etc.).

I also have 7 devices that I regularly use for communication (four computers, my phone, my tablet, and my bedside device (my old phone)).

Getting everything to work well together has been a crazy evolution over the years, but I’m finally getting to a point where it all works pretty seamlessly.

Back in the day, I accessed e-mail directly from my various severs using POP or IMAP (first using Eudora then Mozilla Thunderbird).  Over time, spam became an insane issue, and the best spam filtering software out there is, no question, Gmail.  They just do it best.  In fact, really the only reason I even have a Gmail account is so that I can filter all my e-mail through their fantastic spam filters.  Of course, this comes at the expense of Google data mining every piece of communiqué I send or receive, but I guess it’s worth the price of admission (very little spam in my inbox, and very little “real” mail in my spam box).

If you have your own server (your own domain and hosting), you can set up e-mail addresses to work with Gmail so that when you send an e-mail from Gmail, it looks like it’s coming from your actual domain (instead of being forwarded through Gmail).  This just looks a little more professional when people examine the headers of your e-mail (like it’s coming from your domain instead of Google).  If you don’t have your own server, you can still send from various e-mails, but they will be treated as “aliases” and will show as being sent from Gmail in the headers.  You will skip the “Cpanel” section below, and go straight to setting up your Gmail “send mail as” settings, and instead of deselecting “treat as an alias,” you will leave the account set to “treat as an alias.”

Setting up an e-mail account as a “non alias,” with a real username/pass and actual SMTP server settings from your domain account, also lets you use the e-mail in other programs like Quickbooks.  For instance, if I have an e-mail called “billing” that I use for invoicing clients, but it’s set up as an “alias” in Gmail, Quickbooks won’t let me use the e-mail address to send invoices because it doesn’t have it’s own password and domain SMTP settings (you can’t use your Gmail log-in to send from an alias in Quickbooks).

[UPDATE 12-3-14] It seems Gmail has changed their policy so that you can no longer send e-mail using their outgoing SMTP (presumably to limit spam and for other security issues).  This mean you now actually HAVE to set outgoing SMTP servers for any address with a non-Gmail domain.

Making it happen:


  • Go to account-level filtering in Cpanel (it’s in the “mail” section of your Cpanel). You can also just use “user level” filtering, but account level filtering will forward ALL domain level e-mail for the rule (both account and user level will work to do the same thing).
  • Click “Create a New Filter”
  • In the “Rules” section”, choose “To” “ANY RECIPIENT” or even better (to be safe and extremely inclusive), “ANY HEADER,” select “contains” and type your email address.  (if you use only “to” then the filter ignores the CC field –this gave me fits for about a month when I wasn’t receiving some of my cc’d e-mail! –weird that some got through and some did not though)
  • In the “Actions” section, choose “Redirect to email” and type the email address to which to forward (in my case, my main Gmail address).
  • Click the “+” to add another action, and select discard message (this will prevent the mailbox on your server from filling up with the e-mail that has been forwarded).
  • Click save, and test it to make sure it works (send an e-mail to this address and make sure it shows up in your Gmail inbox)!

Next, you need to set up your Gmail “Send mail as” settings.


From your Gmail inbox:

  • Click the "gear" icon in the upper right corner.
  • Select "settings" from the list (third word from the bottom of the drop down).
  • Select "Accounts and Import" from the blue words at the top of the page.
  • The third section down is "Send mail as:"; click "Add another e-mail address you own."
  • In the pop-up dialog box, enter the name you wish people to see when you send e-mail, and then enter ""
  • Deselect "treat as an alias." (IMPORTANT)
  • Click "next"
  • In the area marked SMTP Server, make sure your outgoing SMTP settings are correct.  Gmail defaults but my hosting services requires a change from "smtp" to "mail" so that the field is populated with ""
  • Enter “” as the username
  • Enter your e-mail password
  • Leave "secured connection using TLS" selected.
  • Click "Add Account."

You will be sent an e-mail that will appear in your Gmail inbox.  Once you have clicked on the link in that e-mail to verify the account, your new address will be functional in Gmail.  Be sure to leave "Reply from the same address the message was sent to" selected in the "Send mail as" section of your Gmail "Accounts and Import" settings.  If you ever want to reply from a different address (than the address to which an e-mail is sent), just select a different address from your "from" drop down in your Gmail compose window (where you are responding to the e-mail).

So that’s the e-mail settings part.  Next comes access the actual e-mail from all of your devices.  This post is getting pretty long, so I’ll address setting up devices in a new post.

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