We configure and setup a lot of websites and email solutions for our clients. Because of spam, viruses and client’s with limited IT resources, we’ve nearly gone exclusively to recommending Google’s Gmail service for email. Now that doesn’t mean our client’s give up their company’s URL for a Gmail address, but with Gmail you can keep your company URL and only you will know that you’re using Gmail.

Setting up Gmail for your companies email

Gmail’s features are many, but the one that stands out is the spam is completely eliminated. Gmail also has powerful smartphone applications and integrates well with all email clients. With Gmail, you can also check, write and manage your emails in any web browser. It’s so good, that I now only use my web browser for email.

This article walks you through the process of setting up Gmail for your business.

Sign up with Google

For most companies, the free Standard Edition account is all you’ll need.  To get started, sign up for your free Google Apps account. There’s only three short pages, so registration is quick.
Registering for you Gmail account for your business

In Step 1, you’ll want to select “Administrator: I own or control this domain”.

Registering with Gmail

Verify ownership of your domain name

Once you’ve completed the registration process, you’ll need to verify that you own that domain name. If you have FTP access to your website or a web developer, the easiest way to do that is upload a file to your website.
Verify Domain Ownership for Gmail
Create a HTML verification file - open up Word or any text editor. Just copy/paste the one line of text (example:google40fab60d1a446c70) and save file as googlehostedservice.html. If you’re using a PC, make sure you save file as an HTML document. Once created, just upload that file to your website.

Adding users

If you’re switching from another email service, make sure you add all your email accounts before you do the next step. This will make sure you don’t lose any emails during the switch. To do so, when logged in, go to “Users and Groups” tab and click “Create a new user” link.

Adding Gmail Users

Changing Mail Exchange (MX) records

Everything up until this point hasn’t effected your existing email service, but this step will now direct all your emails to your newly configured Gmail account.
Before doing this step make sure you activate your “Activate email”. Do this in the dashboard.

activate your Gmail email

Google has pretty good instructions for how to change your MX records and they have a drop-down list that has step-by-step instructions for most of the major hosting companies.

While updating the MX records, it’s a good idea to add CNAME record so that you can access your online email by going to mail.your-domain.com. To do this add a “mail” CNAME and direct it to ghs.google.com. For more instructions on updating or changing a CNAME record

Below is Google’s instructions for updating your MX records:

Changing Mail Exchange (MX) records

Mail Exchange (MX) records control how incoming email is routed for your domain. Before Google can host your email, you’ll need to change these MX records to point to our servers.

If your domain already has email addresses, please be careful changing MX records. To avoid disruption in email service, be sure to create the same set of user accounts with the control panel before changing your MX records Learn more

If you’re not ready to change your MX records yet, use the temporary email address (<username>@tsksqd.com.test-google-a.com) assigned to your user accounts when you create them. The temporary email address will be deactivated once you change the MX records. You must also verify domain ownership before using any Google Apps.

  1. Sign in to your domain hosting company’s website using the username and password associated with your domain.
  2. Navigate to an MX record maintenance page. MX records are special DNS (Domain Name Service) records, and are often located under sections titled “DNS Management,” “Mail Server Configuration,” or “Name Server Management.” You may need to turn on advanced settings to allow editing of these MX records.
  3. Delete any existing MX records before entering new MX records.
  4. 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 address Priority
    ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 10
    ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 20
    ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 20
    ASPMX2.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 30
    ASPMX3.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 30
    ASPMX4.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 30
    ASPMX5.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 30
  5. Change the SPF record to fight SPAM (optional)You may define the SPF record to authorize only certain IP addresses to send email for your domain. This will prevent spammers from sending unauthorized email under a forged address from your domain.

Wrap up

You’re all set up at this point. It may take some time for your MX records to get updated on all the servers around the world. Some say up to 48 hours, but for me it’s typically under an hour.

You’re likely using Outlook or other email client to download your emails. I recommend setting your email account for IMAP. What this means is that your email application doesn’t download and remove the emails from Gmail, but just sync’s up with Gmail. This way you have a backup online of all your emails and attachments. This also means that when you login to your email from a browser, that all the emails will match what you have on your computer, including your send and trash folders.  Google has detailed instructions and configurations for support mail clients.

configuring imap to work with your Gmail account