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How to use Gmail with your own custom domain (for free)

February 16, 2017

People love the familiar Gmail interface, but using Gmail with your own domain isn’t free, and resorting to myname@gmail.com isn’t very professional.

For a long-term solution, I recommend signing up for Google for Nonprofits. It’s free and made to handle enterprise-level IT needs. I can even send you a spreadsheet to check if you’re eligible. Just sign up using the orange box in the sidebar.

If you’re not a nonprofit, your long-term solution would be to purchase G Suite. It’s not free, but I can give you a discount code for 20% off your first year! Just leave a comment below and I’ll send it to you.Sign up a 14 day free trial here.

Know that if you want to switch later, it will be a pain in the butt to transfer all your emails to Google for Nonprofits or G Suite. But if you just need a fix for the time being, here’s a quick workaround to use gmail with your own, custom domain.

Basically,  you’ll just forward all the mail from you@yourdomain.org to a Gmail account, and change a setting so outgoing mail says you@yourdomain.org too. That’s it! So let’s jump right in.

1) Create a Gmail account

Google's Sign-up page

You probably already have a Gmail account, and you could use it for your nonprofit’s email, but just like finances, it’s best to keep business and personal separate. It will make things a lot easier down the road if you upgrade to Google for Nonprofits.

Here’s how to make the account:

  • Visit the Gmail sign-up page and pick a new email address. name.organization@gmail.com usually works well.
  • Follow the rest of the steps to create your account, and sign in.

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2) Create your custom email and forward it

Chances are, your web host also includes email hosting, or at least email forwarding1. If you’re hosted by GoDaddy, 1&1, Bluehost or Hostgator, you definitely have email hosting. Below are the instructions for each of those hosts.

If you use a different host, look at the Hostgator instructions–chances are your host uses the same interface.

 

3) Enable Gmail to send as yourdomain.org

This step will allow you to send email as you@yourdomain.org using Gmail’s SMTP servers.

  1. Gmail's settingsGo to this link. If you can enable “Less secure apps,” do so. If you get an error, go here to create an app-specific password.
  2. Return to Gmail, click the gear icon, then Settings
  3. Click Accounts and Import, then Add another email address in the Send mail as section
  4. Enter your name and you@yourdomain.org, allow Treat as an alias and then Next Step
  5. Enter the following credentials:
  • SMTP Server: smtp.gmail.com
  • Username: The part of your gmail address that comes before “@gmail.com”
  • Password: Your Gmail or App-specific password
  • Port: 587
  • Secure connection using: TLS

4) Final Configuration

  1. You’ll be sent an email with a verification link. Make sure to click it to enable your new address.
  2. Once you are returned to the Settings page, click Make default next to your new, custom email.
  3. Send a friend an email to test outgoing messages
  4. Have them send you a message to confirm incoming messages

And that’s it! You now have Gmail with your own domain for free!

If you have any issues, comment below and I’ll do my best to fix them with you.

 

Footnotes:

  1. If your host doesn’t provide mail forwarding, use this tutorial.
  2. If you don’t know your servers hostname, go to your cpanel. On the left side you will see a section called stats. Click the expand stats link if it is present. The hostname will be shown in the list of stats.

 

 

96 Replies to “How to use Gmail with your own custom domain (for free)”

  1. I followed the steps perfectly but kept getting security warnings from google.

    To solve it, Inadded my full gmail email address instead of the part before the @ and it worked perfectly.

  2. So I got to the part where it sent me a code to click… But it sent to my forwarding address. which I can’t check becuae its trying to forward it back to the gmail account.

    I’d also take a code please

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  4. Hi Jason,
    I just purchased a custom domain name on godaddy.com.
    I am now trying to create free email accounts on my custom domain.
    I have created an account as me@mydomain.com and it’s saying that a link has been sent to the email for verification. But I am not receiving the verification email. Please help to ho to proceed.

  5. Hi, so what happens when I don’t want the domain I chose anymore? I’ve had a domain name for several years and I don’t use the website or store anymore. I’m in a new business and don’t want the domain, don’t want to transfer it and would just like to stop paying for it. But, I still use the gmail account with my custom domain. It’s not my only email account but there are several business contacts there that I’m afraid won’t follow me to my main outlook email address. What are my options? Do I have to keep paying for the domain to use my gmail account? Thanks!

  6. Hey Jason, can I also get a 20% off coupon? I’m a student and I’m using Zoho mail for now. I love Inbox and I use Android. It’ll be easier just to have one email for all! Thanks 🙂

  7. I have had this set up like this for close to a year and it has been working great. (I’ve found that either Port 465 or Port 587 both work fine.) However, in the past several weeks, something has not been working properly. I am able to successfully send emails, receive emails and reply to emails. But, if I send an email and someone REPLIES to it, I NEVER RECEIVE it.

    I have gone back over the settings multiple times. I tried the Free Trial of G Suite, which got it working fine again, but, preferring not to pay the monthly $5 for G Suite, I have now setting it back to use the instruction you provided above, but it’s back to working the same way that I described, with REPLIES not being received.

    Any idea what is wrong or how to fix it?

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for this tutorial but something is not working for me. I have a domain in godaddy and of course I created my forwaded email, if I emailed something to 123@mypage.com I got the message in my gmail account. However when I add 123@mypage.com to “send as” in Gmail everything goes well till I have to get the verification email. I have resent many times the email but nothing happens. Any idea?
    Have a good day!

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  10. Hi Jason

    Thanks for the clear article

    I’m looking for an email solution where my family of 5 can each have their own email name@familyname.com hosted by Gmail. Is my only option to pay $25 per month or is there a cheaper alternative?

    • Tony, yes your options would be to do the work-around described in the article for each account, or pay $25/mo. If you do the latter, I have a coupon code that can get you 20% off the first year. Let me know if you’d like me to send it to you.

  11. Thank you! Super useful and straightforward for Bluehost 🙂
    You may just want to add something in the guide about displaying the unlock captcha for your gmail account – perhaps if people are running into issues.

  12. Really helpful article, thanks Jason. Was hoping it was a wonderful workaround to get a Gmail alias working with a WordPress.com-hosted personal plan, but sadly WordPress are telling the truth on their support pages (https://en.support.wordpress.com/email-forwarding/) when they say Gmail won’t allow you to send emails from a WordPress alias! Hoping for better luck under different circumstances…

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  14. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for the great article.

    I used all the advice to use my go daddy forwarding service to receive and send email through my gmail with my custom domain email. However when I try to add the email through the gmail smtp server I get the return error:

    “Server returned error: “534-5.7.14 <https://accounts.google.com/signin/continue?sarp=1&scc=1&plt=AKgnsbs_ 534-5.7.14 "

    I attempted to try all the options you mentioned below but it won't connect.

    "534-5.7.14 is an authentication error, meaning part of your login credentials are invalid. This could mean 1) you haven’t allowed less secure apps, or set an app-specific password 2) you’re not entering the app specific password, 3) the username is incorrect, or 4) you have the wrong authentication protocol (TLS 587 vs SSL 465). Try going through those variables and verifying/mix-n-matching until it works."

    Any other suggestions?

  15. Hi Jason,
    I just purchased a custom domain name on godaddy.com.
    I am now trying to create free email accounts on my custom domain.
    I have created an account as trading@customdomain.com and its saying that a link has been sent to the email for verification. How do I verify the email on the same email? Even I am not able to delete it.
    Please tell me what to do. I dont want to loose that email as trading@customdomain.com.

  16. Hi Jason.
    Turns out that godaddy don’t offer free email forwarding or emails any more, i’ve been searching this topic in the last day and in order to reach the manage button next to the workspace email you have to switch to the “old view” when you do so and try to hit the manage button there is an error saying “Need more Workspace email addresses? We can help.
    Please contact Customer Support or call (480) 505-8877”. I also contacted customer support and the forwarding only now costs 3,99 + 30 cents per year?!

    • Correction, it works, you just have to hit the down arrow on the workspace control center.
      However the customers support did not tell me for this option!

  17. Hi, I already have a purchased domain with outlook, would I still be able to do this? And I have no idea who my host is. So I wasn’t able to do part 2.
    Thanks

  18. I have been trying to set this up and seem to have most of it working.

    The issue I have is when I send an email back to my name@customdomain.com, I can see it arrive in my domain mailbox, but it doesn’t get forwarded to my name@gmail.com

    I also get an error saying “Our system has detected that this message is likely suspicious due to the very low reputation of the sending IP.”

    Any idea’s? What can I do to fix this?

  19. Jason,

    Great document! Thunderbird was letting me down recently so you have helped me get to a better system – I hope!

    Right now I am wrestling with importing all my contacts. I will keep looking on line. But because you wrote such a great tutorial about using Gmail, I thought I’d ask you if you have written about how to import all the contact information that I had collected in Thunderbird. My imported contact info on Gmail seems pretty slim!

  20. This isn’t working for me. I am getting an error when adding in the SMTP server and my gmail username after putting in my domain alias @domainname.com

  21. Hey Man,

    Thanks for the tip! Everything is working perfectly EXCEPT my google avatar/profile pic no longer seems to be appearing in the emails I send now that my @customdomain.com account is set to default. Maybe am I just being impatient? Or will I not be able to have a custom thumbnail/profile pic associated with my @customdomain.com account?

    • Well, turns out I was being impatient with the avatar/profile pic as now it is working just fine. HOWEVER my only issue I’m now having is that GMAIL blocking any email I get from my @customdomain.com account from entering my “Important” inbox, it only seems to appear in “Everything” (as opposed to when I get an email from my @gmail.com account which shows up immediately in my “Important” inbox. Same goes for the INBOX app however INBOX auto sorts my @customdomain.com email into my “Unimportant” inbox which I feel could seriously detriment my business. (If clients are missing my emails because Google is sorting them as “Unimportant”.

      Any solution?

      • For your own account, you can set up a filter that will force your emails to be set as “important”. Otherwise, I would suggest purchasing G Suite; if email deliverability is critical to your business, $5/mo isn’t a high price.

  22. Hi Jason,
    I’ve done all this for my own domains on a google account and it works fine when accessing the mail via the web browser. I can send and receive as my own domain by default and am using Google’s server to do so. The problem I have is that when using a phone (Apple or Android) I cannot see how to make my replies look like they come from my own domain. They come from the @gmail address by default and I cannot seem to change that anywhere.
    Can you help please?

    • Hi Mark,

      I think you’ll need to add the account as “Other” vs Gmail in the set up screen. That will let you define your own alias and servers, rather than having it populate automatically from Gmail.

  23. I set up my domain through google over a year ago then set up my email through G-suite. I want to build a website through something like Squarespace who have instructions how to transfer the domain name but don’t want to lose my mail from the Gsuite account.

    • Hey Marie, your email will be independent of your website. Domains route email based on the MX records, whereas Squarespace will have you edit the A or CNAME records to point your website traffic to them. If they ask you to change your nameservers, though, that will require re-entering the MX records in the new server so that no mail is lost.

      I know transferring servers and things can be annoying and confusing. Email me at mail@jasonjensen.co if you still have questions or need any guidance setting up the website.

  24. Hi Jason – I have tried multiple times to add my account to my Gmail, and continue to get the 535 error. I have read some other threads and followed advice and changed my password in GoDaddy. I even went as far as changing my e-mail address and am still getting the 535 error. Any other ideas?

    • Joey, I would recommend using gmail’s smtp server if you’re having trouble with GoDaddy, or vice versa. I just updated the article to be as accurate as possible.

    • In your gmail settings, on the accounts tab, there is a toggle to reply all emails to your default address, or reply to the sending address. You most likely have the wrong one turned on.

  25. Quick Question —
    Does using your suggested solution use Gmail to store all the incoming email data on Gmails servers?
    And does this also mean that Gmail will handle spam?
    I am having issues with my Media Temple email accounts and I would love to move all of my emails over to Gmail IF Gmail will handle spam, data, and basically work just like my current Gmail email which tends to be the most stable of my 5 email address…
    Thanks!

    • Hey Shawn,

      Typically with the email forwarding you can decide whether to keep a copy on the original server, or just push it all to the receiving server (which in this case is Gmail). Anything forwarded/sent to gmail will be subject to Gmail’s spam filters and any user-defined filters.

  26. I am trying to set up receiving my personal domain email through a gmail account I already have. I have forwarded my personal domain email through Namecheap (where I purchased domain). I can’t get your plan to work. I used the gmail server that you suggested (smtp.gmail.com) and it errors out saying Authentication failed. Please check your username/password. I am using the exact user name and password that I log in to gmail. What am I doing wrong? The forwarding works, but I can’t SEND using the personal domain email address.

  27. Followed youyr instructions to the T. Just wondering, do i need to anything abouit the MX settings?
    My domain is hosted by go addy and i am forwarding the domain to gmail.
    Appreciate your assistance

    • and when i triy to do the setting in gmail, it comes with authencation error and asking me to check username / password

      • Yes the same happens with me since we have just created a forwarding account with Godaddy – that account doesn’t really have a password. I wonder what can me done about that.

    • Hey, I ran into the same problem. I am using go daddy and it looks like you need to create a user/email account with Godaddy first, however I think you would need to pay for that(no certain). Since we want this feature for free just use the gmail account you created for step 3 part 4. Note: make sure to enable less secure app to access your account more info about that in this link https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/6010255 .

  28. This is great information. Love the step by step instructions. Can’t wait to implement this. As a non-profit, I can’t help but wonder about what gmail would do with donor info etc. Is this a secure alternative? or am I safer with GoDaddy?

    • Hey Barbara, I would imagine GoDaddy and Gmail are equally secure. According to Google’s privacy policy, their computers–but not humans–scan the content of emails to put it in the appropriate inbox tab and possibly serve you targeted gmail ads. (https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/#products)

      You can opt out of the service by going into Settings > ad personalization.

      One final thing to note is that email is inherently insecure, as the messages are not encrypted. I personally have never heard of someone intercepting emails for nefarious purposes, but it’s a good idea to refrain from sending credit card numbers and the like.

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