Free Google Mail for your Domain

First you have to create an account in Google applications for which you have to go to the url

http://www.google.com/a (main site)

1. For Government Sector you can go to http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/government/

2. For non-profit or Educational Purpose you can go to http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/

3. For Premier edition (Business Purpose) http://www.google.com/intl/en/enterprise/apps/business/

4. For a personal user limited to 10 accounts you can jump to https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/standard/new3?hl=en&source=gafb-pricing-tabletop-en.   (Currently stopped by Google. Only Paid service available)

5. For Resellers http://www.google.com/intl/en/enterprise/apps/business/landing/partners/resellers/

Click on the respective link and jump to the online application form:

If you are a family, private user or non-profit organisation, Google Apps is free to use (businesses can have a trial period for 30 days and then $5/user/month or $50/user/year). But for me and probably for most of you, the free “standard edition” is the one to go for though it is limited to only 10 accounts but it is more than enough for my personal use.

The first step of the application is to enter your domain name (or you can buy a new domain name though Google which automatically sets everything up for you). You also need to verify that you own the domain or if you are a member of the domain.

Then click “get started” and a standard application form pops up.

Choose the Express one as it would be easy for you to configure. Experts can go for custom settings.

Assuming all of the information is acceptable to Google and you are authorized to set the domain up on Google Apps, you will then be taken to your new dashboard.

You have to confirm that you own that domain so you have one recommended and 3 alternate methods to verify that you own that domain:-

1. The recommended method is that you upload a file and than click on verify link to verify

and the alternate methods are:-

i) Add a meta tag to your site's home page.

Copy the meta tag below, and paste it into your site's home page. It should go in the <head> section, before the first <body> section.

 Show me an example

ii). Click Verify below.

To stay verified, don't remove the meta tag, even after verification succeeds.

 

ii) Use your Google Analytics account.

  • You must be using the asynchronous tracking code.
  • Your tracking code must be in the <head> section of your page.
  • You must be the admin on the Analytics account.

The Google Analytics tracking code is used only to verify site ownership. No Google Analytics data will be accessed.

 

iii)Sign in to your domain name provider.

Select your domain registrar or provider

Sign in to your domain name provider.

 
The first thing to do is activate your email. You need to specify whether you like the URL Google automatically makes for you. So for example it may have made :

https://www.google.com/a/example.com/ServiceLogin?service=mail&passive=true&rm=false&continue=http%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fa%2Fexample.com%2F&bsv=zpwhtygjntrz&ltmpl=default&ltmplcache=2

But if you don’t like that URL, you can easily change it to something secret such as :

http://mail.example.com

For this you have to follow certain steps:-

To change the web address:

  1. Sign in to your control panel.
  2. From the Services settings drop-down menu, select any service.
  3. In the web address section for the service you selected, click change URL.
  4. Select the radio button next to the custom address field, and type your new web address. Some example names include mail, www, inbox, home, pages, calendar, events, and main.

    screenshot of custom url settings

    Click Change URLs for all domain services to customize all URLs at once. You'll still have to create a CNAME record for each custom URL.
  5. Click Continue.
  6. Follow the instructions to create a CNAME record with your domain host. (Skip this step if you purchased your domain from one of our domain registration partners, GoDaddy or eNom during the sign-up process.)
  7. Click I've completed these steps.

Now to activate the email. Go to the email settings page and there are two options – “create user accounts” and “change MX records”. OK, no need to get nervous. Let’s do them one at a time :

Create user accounts

You may have a lot of email addresses for your domain such as info, contact, your name, webmaster and so on. You need to now input all those email addresses into Google Apps. Or if you don’t feel like typing them all in, you can upload an Excel CSV file with the addresses already in it. Google Apps will then insert the email addresses into your email settings.

Change MX Records

OK, now the biggie. The MX records shows which company handles and delivers your emails. You need to change the records from your old email provider to Google so your emails can be sent to your Apps account.

It’s not a problem as Google provides step-by-step instructions for whoever your old email provider is. Just choose your hosting service from the drop-down list and you will get instant specific instructions on where to go and what to do.

It basically involves locating the MX Records list in your hosting account (Google tells you where it is) and deleting them all (you may want to take a screenshot first in case you need to revert back). Then in their place, enter the following :

 

 

For each MX record, enter information according to the entries in the following table.

You may not be allowed to enter the priority values exactly as they appear in the table below; in that case, simply ensure that the server addresses are prioritized in the same order as they appear in the table. (i.e. The priority ranking [1, 3, 3, 5, 5, 5, 5] should work just as well as [1, 5, 5, 10, 10, 10, 10] so long as you keep the addresses in the right order.)

If you're asked to specify the type of each record you're adding, enter "MX".

MX records often require the specific format of DNS records, including a trailing dot (".") at the end of any full-qualified domain names (e.g. "server.example.com.")

Set any TTL values to the maximum allowed.

MX Server addressPriority
ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 1
ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 5
ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 5
ASPMX2.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 10
ASPMX3.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 10
   
   

Then save the whole lot. And that’s it – email set up!

As I said, it may be a little sluggish at first with emails trickling in slowly but once your Apps account is processed and set up by Google and your MX records get transitioned over, the email will start to come in a lot faster. Just be patient.

If you had your Apps email address already previously set up to forward everything to your old Gmail address, you need to go to the old Gmail address and cancel the forwarding rule. Otherwise you will end up with two copies of the same email – one in your Gmail account and one in your Apps account.

Next, you can decide if you want to change the destination links for your calendar, Talk app, Documents and Sites (just like you may have changed the URL for your email inbox). Then activate each service in the settings.

The last thing to do is go to the CNAME settings in your hosting account (again, Google points the way) and you need to enter each URL along with ghs.google.com . That points everything to the Google servers. Save everything and you-are-done! Finito, The End.

All that remains to be done is browse through the settings and customise everything to your liking (for example, you can replace the Google logo witb your own customised logo).

I highly recommend moving over to Google Apps. It’s a nice all-in-one online email, calendar and documents application. The only grumble I have about it is that you can’t import your emails over from a normal Gmail account. Google doesn’t provide any email exporting function so your emails are stuck in the other account – unless you go the long tedious way of downloading the emails to Outlook or Thunderbird and then using an import tool to re-upload them. We covered one of these tools in the past. But it is very easy to import your filters and contact book over and I had the email purring along in no time.

 

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