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5 Oct 09

Manage multiple email accounts with Gmail

Manage multiple email accounts with Gmail

When we're developing websites for clients quite often there is a change in where their website is hosted and sometimes their email hosting too. When that happens a common question is; how am I going to access my emails? A lot of people don't actually use desktop email clients. Some people, because they need to travel or occasionally work from home, also use their email provider’s online email software. This is why using Gmail to get email from other accounts can be so useful. Instead of having multiple email interfaces to get used to you just have one really good one.

I've been using Gmail since it launched in 2004 as a beta service. In that time it's gone from a great service to an even better one. In comparison to the other webmail giants like Yahoo mail and Hotmail; who incidentally still have more users signed up, it's a much faster, more user friendly service. There's a few reasons for this, not least because Yahoo and Hotmail have a much longer legacy behind them, with a particular way of doing things; whereas Gmail jumped into the market freshly developed, providing a service geared towards current user's needs. Straight away one of the big differences was Gmail's user interface had been implemented using AJAX. Without getting into the technicalities of what AJAX is; it basically meant the users screen didn't have to reload after common tasks like moving messages into 'Labels' (Gmail's version of folders), or attaching files to emails, or even navigating from one screen to another. This made Gmail a far faster experience.

There's quite a few other differences contributing to a better user experience, such as; Google's version of intelliSense - allowing names, email address and search queries to auto-complete as you start to type them; how it stores contacts; and integrated IM chat. But the absolute can't-live-without killer features have got to be its anti-spam and search functionalities. For them alone I use it almost exclusively, rather than sending and receiving mail through my desktop thunderbird client.

My main email addresses are exposed in quite a few places on the web, resulting in a lot of daily spam and junk mail. It's pretty tiresome having to continually weed them out, or try and get yet another desktop spam filter to 'learn' that "Ralph Virgata" is not my distant relative and the chances are that the 2.5 million he's offering to put directly into my bank account will be a slight disappointment once I hand over the details..

Gmail on the other hand, with access to vast resources, seems a veritable psychic; rarely making a mistake when flagging spam and moving it out of your way. Genuine emails are a vital part of most organisations' communication, so organising, storing and finding them again is essential. But even the best filing system is going to need continual maintenance; which takes time. The internal search functionality available with Gmail is just fantastic and removes the need to be overly conscious of filling everything away. Its Google in your inbox.

So here's how to get email from other accounts into Gmail.  The only point to bear in mind is the email account you're trying to 'fetch' must support POP access. Most of them do, but you can check with your webmail provider.

First, obviously, you need a Gmail account. So if you don't have one, set one up. When you've got that sorted login and:

  • Click on settings link (top right hand corner of Gmail page) -> then click on the Accounts tab.
  • In the "Check mail using POP3" section, click on the "Add POP3 email account" link.
  • Enter the full email address of your other email account (yourname@yourdomain.com) then click next.
  • It'll then ask you for settings so:
    • Enter your other email account's username and password
    • Enter your POP server details. This is normally something like mail.yourdomain.com. If it's not, have a look on your webmail provider's website or ask them. Sometimes it can be something weird.
    • Tick "leave a copy of message on the server" if you want to be able to view your other emails from another email client as well, otherwise Gmail will take all emails off your other email account when it retrieves them.
    • Tick "Label incoming messages" - this is like creating a folder for all your other emails to go into. So you can have a Label called "Cubedroute Emails" and just click on that when you want to view all those emails from within Gmail.
    • If you don't want your inbox clogged up with other account emails then click on "Archive incoming messages". This way to view your external emails you can either click on the label you gave them or goto the All Mail link in Gmail.

And thats it! You can have up to five accounts being fetched into Gmail like this. Excellent. Oh one more thing, and yes this blog is getting long but we're nearly there. If you want to SEND emails as yourname@yourdomain.com from within Gmail then follow these steps:

  • Click Settings and select the Accounts and Import tab.
  • Under the Send Mail as, click on the "Send mail from another address". A pop up window will appear and just put your yourname@yourdomain.com email address in.
  • Gmail will send that email account a link which you verify. Once you verify the link you'll be able to choose what email address to reply from in Gmail.

Simple. Now we're done.

Related tags: Communication


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