How to set-up one inbox using Gmail
I was chatting with some fellow bloggers in the Blog Tips Google+ community (Ryan Hanley and Sarah Arrow) about how we spot spammy guest post requests. I had commented that a possible spam sign for me were guest post requests coming from a Gmail, Yahoo or MSN account and not from a real domain. Ryan responded that he uses his Gmail account the most and had never had a problem but probably due to him working to establish a relationships before requesting a guest post. I completely agreed with that.
This conversation got me thinking about how I work around this issue, because, like Ryan, I use my Gmail account the most as well. I have Gmail set-up so that I can use Gmail but send the email from any of my domain specific email accounts. I manage and use one inbox.
I have my Gmail set-up so that all domain branded email ids forward to my Gmail account. I can also have Gmail set-up so I can send emails using my domain accounts as well. I prefer to use domain specific email addresses for two primary reason, first and foremost: branding. Secondly to protect my personal email a little.
Using one Gmail inbox makes managing your email easy. Interested in how to set-up one inbox using Gmail? Read on, it’s really simple and only takes a few minutes.
How to set-up one inbox using Gmail
As I mentioned, I have various domain email accounts. I have a few for this blog and the other sites I run, along with email accounts for my Empty Cabin Media development business. All together, I probably have 15+ email accounts that I needed to check on a daily or weekly basis. Seems like a lot of email accounts to manage right? Well it was until I started using an often unknown feature in Gmail that gives me one inbox for all of my mail.
Setting this up is easy and involves two primary steps:
- Routing all of your incoming email to your Gmail inbox
- Setting-up your domain specific emails in Gmail so you can send email from them within Gmail.
Many people don’t realize you can do #2, but you can.
Forward all of your mail to your Gmail account
The first step in having the “One inbox to rule them all” is to configure all of your email accounts to forward to your single Gmail account. The way to do this is dependent on your hosting company, but generally there are email settings and the option to forward your email is in the specific email addresses settings. Here’s a screenshot of it on Media Temple.
After you’ve set this up, send a test email to make sure you you set-up everything correctly. Assuming you did, you should get your test email in your Gmail inbox. Step 1 towards email domination, complete!
One note: By default, if you reply to these emails in Gmail, the reply from address will be Gmail account’s email, not the email address the email was sent to. This can be a problem for a few reasons:
- Since people sent the email to one address, they won’t be expecting to receive a reply from other email address.
- You may want to keep your personal email priviate or restrict who has direct access to it.
- For branding, it’s better to respond to emails sent to your blogs and business from the blog or business domain.
- Responding from a domain branded email can be perceived as more professional
We’ll resolve this in the next.
Set-up Gmail so you can respond from your email accounts (the real trick)
To set-up Gmail so you can respond from different email addresses, do the following
- Login to your primary Gmail account, the one you’re setting up to be your “One Inbox”
- Click on the settings icon, just below your profile picture in the top right corner.
- Select Settings, you’ll see a screen like this:
- Next, click on Accounts and Imports. Where the green arrow is pointing in the screen shot above. You’ll see a screen like this:
- Note the Send mail as section. This is where we’ll add the additional email accounts.
- To add an email, click on the Add another email address you own link, pointed to by the green arrow above. A pop-up will appear. If you have pop-ups disabled, you’ll need to enable them to complete the remaining steps.
- In the pop-up, enter the name and email address you’re adding. Note, the name will be seen by people you reply to. For example, on my newsletter email account for Side Income Blogging, I don’t put my name. I put “Side Income Blogging Newsletter” instead.
- After entering the name and email, press the Next Step button.
- On the Send mail through your SMTP server? page, just use the default settings and click the Next Step button.
- You will then be prompted to verify your email address. Confirm that the email address you want to add is correct, and press the Send Verification button.
Assuming you set-up forwarding correctly above, you’ll receive a verification email in your Gmail inbox. Follow the instructions in that email, and you’ll be all set-up.
To confirm your email is set-up and working correctly, compose a new email in your Gmail account. The from section of your email will now have a drop-down containing all of the emails that you set-up in the steps above. Slick huh?
One catch though, and I personally don’t worry about this at all, but just in case some of you might.: Anyone that knows a little about how email works can view the raw email header and get your original email address. Most people wouldn’t even think to do this and if they do, it’s not a huge deal.
One Inbox = huge difference
For me personally, having one inbox where I can send and receive everything has had a huge positive productivity benefit for me. Before I had this set-up, I had about 10 different email accounts I had to keep track of. I had to check them frequently and deal with the often less than intuitive mail interface. The biggest issue for me was remembering to check them. I always forgot and would miss important emails.
But no more – Honestly this whole set-up is so seamless, I often forget I’m using multiple email accounts. Google is even smart enough to recognize where the original email was sent to, and when you reply it defaults to that same address.
If you don’t have this set-up, I would highly advise you do – You’ll thank me later when you’re spending more time writing great articles and less time managing email.
Photo by: herval
Hey Larry! Great article and thanks for the (mt) Media Temple reference! I’m sure a lot of people will find this useful. 🙂
(mt) Media Temple
Hey Drew, you’re welcome. Thanks for dropping by and for the comment.
Very nice tip, here, Larry.
I actually have all my domain emails sent to my gmail account, but never realized I could reply from it too. Now I’ve just learned to streamline my daily operations even more. Cool! (I owe you an hour a day for… ever)
Thank you David. Glad I saved you some time, just never enough to go around.
This is definitely a helpful tip, and I’m headed off to set mine up now.
Thanks Robb and appreciate the comment!
I actually do the same but with outlook. There I can also choose from which account I reply to an e-mail.
Hey there Sophie. Thanks for dropping by and for the comment. Yep, Outlook provides this on Windows and Mail does on a Mac. The only reason I personally shy away from desktop based mail clients is that I like to be able to read my email from anywhere on any device. Managing all of my email in GMail just works better for this.
Now, with that said…it doesn’t really matter as long as your set-up works for you, and sounds like your does. Thanks again.