Introduction

If you own a domain name (eg tim-richardson.net) then theoretically you own any email address the domain (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Of course, you need to set up an email system to receive emails.

This tutorial shows you how to use google to do this.

Everyone knows about gmail accounts. Google also offers to host emails from any domain. Google stores your email and lets you read it with the same interface as gmail, for free, but you get the professional benefits of an email address linked to your domain. So even though you use gmail to read and send email, the account is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Technical introduction

 

Consider that you own the domain "mudpie.com".

You want to have an email account This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When someone sends an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the internet looks up the computers hosting your domain name (which also happens if someone uses an internet browser to visit www.mudpie.com).

To use google as the email hoster, you need to reconfigure the domain naming service (DNS) records so that email sent to mudpie.com goes to google, without affecting people visiting your website with their browser (such as Firefox or Internet Explorer).

The destination of email sent to "mudpie.com" is handled by an "MX" record (Mail Exchange) and only the owner of the domain name can edit this. Changing this is the trickiest part of the process; it is the only really technical part of the process. Changing an MX record only takes about five minutes.

 

Steps to use Google for your domain's email

 

1. Register a domain name if you don't have one already.

In case you don't have one. 

You should pay around $USD 10 per year for a .com domain.  

You will pay less than this at  http://www.v2reg.com (the registrar I use). I see that google is also offering a $10 registration; I haven't used google for this. A big advantage of buying your domain from google is that google will set everything up for hosting your email. This presumably means you can skip steps 3 and 4 below, which could be a huge advantage if you don't want to get even a bit technical. 

Note that it may be possible to transfer your domain to google to get them to set it up; I haven't investigated this. I also don't know if google will provide *.com.au domains.  

2. Google apps: set up an account with google.

You need to set up a
"Google Application" account.

http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/business/applications.html

(If the link is not working, search google for "google apps") 

and choose "Compare editions and sign up"

Choose the "Standard Edition".

Step 1 of signup: You nominate that you have an existing account, and you want to be administrator. 

Step 2 and 3 of signup. Enter details.  

 

Now the fun begins.

3. Verify domain ownership

You need to prove to Google that you own the domain. 

Click on "Verify Domain Ownership" from the Gmail Apps control panel (that is, the screen you see after finishing the signup). 

You can also get to the control panel from here:

http://www.google.com/a/ 

There are two options. The easiest one usually is to 'upload an HTML file".

You make a very simple text file containing exactly the code shown, and upload it to your website.

If you know what an HTML file is, you know it has tags like <BODY> and </BODY> in it.

For Google verification, you don't really make an HTML file; just a simple text file with only the verification code in it is required.

After uploading the file, follow the verification instructions.

Verification takes hours. Google puts your request in a queue. After a few hours, Google computers visit your site looking for the uploaded file. 

 

  Follow progress by logging in here

http://www.google.com/a/

 

4. Setting up the email service (changing the MX records)

This is the most complicated part of the process. After you read these notes, please read the extensive help from Google about this step. The google help is here

The MX record determines which computer looks after email sent to your domain. The MX record is therefore a signpost that directs email traffic. Every domain has a computer called the "name server". Every time a computer on the internet tries to contact your domain for anything (such as to deliver email or to fetch web pages), the name server works out which computer will answer the request. So the name server for your domain is a crucial part of the process. It's clever since it allows different servers to provide different services; one server can look after your website, and another server somewhere else in the world can host your email. 

Often, the name server will be provided by the company that you bought the domain name from, the registrar. This means that the website you use to maintain your domain name (example, pay for another year) is the same place that lets you change DNS records, such as the MX records. Changing DNS records is therefore usually quite simple; you log in to your domain provider, and search for the web interface to change DNS records. It's slightly different across registrars since each registrar has its own administration system. However, Google has provided instructions for many domain registrars (at the time of writing, this help is here ).

In my case, the name server is ns1.tim-richardson.net, so I need to edit the DNS data on ns1.tim-richardson.net, and then setup the MX records (which is part of the DNS data).

The screen picture below shows how it works on my server. I  am using lynrich.org in this case (a real example). 

The data you enter into the MX records comes from the Google instructions. 

edit_mx_records1.png

 

 

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