Sunday, 16 December 2018

Email aggregation

If you have purchased your own domain name, or are thinking of doing so, it is likely that you want to standardise on just one email address, however, many of your contacts will still be using old addresses which you still have to monitor.

What is the issue?

If you reply to one of the old emails, invariably, you will be using the old 'From' address again but you probably want people to use an address from your own domain. The Reply-To field, that you can set, often does not give satisfactory results.


This is where email aggregation comes in. That simply means that all your mails get sent to just one mailbox, which you can check and, probably, most importantly, when you reply, you use your own domain email address.



What has to be done?

Checklist:
  • Buy a domain, if you don't already own one
  • Buy a mailbox with your domain that includes sending using authenticated SMTP
  • Create an account on Gmail or Outlook.com, if you don't already have one
  • Configure outgoing SMTP mail for your domain on your chosen Gmail or Outlook.com
  • Set forwarding on all your email accounts to go to your Gmail or Outlook.com mailbox

Optionally, configure your mobile phone, to:
  • Receive mail, via IMAP, from Gmail or Outlook.com
  • Send mail, via SMTP, for your domain 
IMPORTANT: Do not use any of the pre-configured wizards for any of this set up, especially on mobile phones. The results are not going to be suitable for this arrangement, they are designed for single mailboxes without any deviation from their expectations. Always use the Other or Advanced settings.

In more detail

Nearly any mailbox can be used to combine all your mail in to one place, I have typed up instructions for both Gmail and Outlook.com but others work in a similar fashion. I also have instructions for configuring mobile phones, both Apple and Android.

The area that appears to confuse most people is how to avoid having a different 'From' address to the 'Reply-To' address. This can look messy and confuses people receiving the mail.

The important bit of information that you need to understand to get mails to send cleanly from your own domain is that the outgoing mail details will be different to the incoming details and that the outgoing is always sent via the email host associated with your domain.


You will need to purchase individual email mailboxes from your domain provider with the ability to send authenticated SMTP mails.
You only need the most basic of mailboxes because you will set them to forward mail to your aggregator mailbox. You could use the mailbox of the domain provider for this purpose, in which case you will need to buy a more comprehensive mailbox package but that is unnecessary, if you are happy to use Gmail or Outlook.com.

Incoming mail, uses the IMAP server details for Gmail or Outlook.com or wherever you are using.
Outgoing mail, always uses the SMTP details of the mail server associated with your domain.


All your old accounts and your domain account need to be set to forward mail to the account you are using to aggregate the mails. That can be Gmail, Outlook.com or wherever.

That's the easy bit, your mails are all in one mailbox but you still need to configure the send method.


To be able to send from your domain, see the PDF's with the instructions appropriate to the set up you are planning.

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Instructions:
Email aggregation with Gmail (PDF)
Email aggregation with Outlook online (PDF)
Mobile email aggregation (PDF)

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I deliberately do not use a mail client on my computers.  I find it more convenient to be able to access my mail from any computer using webmail.
I have, therefore, not included any instructions for configuring mail client software but the settings would be similar to those for mobile phones.

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