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How can I set up a professional email address for free using Gmail?

Email Gmail
Give your one-person business a professional look with a tailored email address

We’ve already explained why it makes no sense to stick to the email address supplied by your broadband provider, but here we go one step further. We’re going to show you how to set up a professional email address, tailored to your website, using Gmail as your email provider. And all for free (provided you already own the domain).

To avoid any confusion, we’re not talking about addresses of the form yourbusiness@gmail.com but yourname@yourbusiness.com, where “yourbusiness” is the name of your website. In this example, I’m using a domain I set up for a tennis website I co-run called Tennis Talent (aimed at anyone who plays tennis, or wants to start).

Step 0: Register your chosen domain and create a Gmail account

I call this Step 0 because if you haven’t yet chosen your domain then you’ll need to do that first, and if you haven’t already created a Gmail account then I can only assume you’re a Martian. In which case, let me clarify that Donald Trump is not our leader.

It’s worth noting, though, that you may want to set up a new Gmail account to handle your new email. That way you’ll have 15GB of space to play with from the start, and it separates it from your personal email.

Step 1: Head into your Gmail settings

Having logged into your Gmail account, click Settings (the cog logo at the top right of the screen, assuming you’re using a desktop web browser) and then select “Accounts and Import”, which I’ve highlighted below.

Email gmail
I was going to blur out my email address, but then realised the futility…

Now choose the fourth option down, “Add a mail account”. Enter the email address you want to handle, in my case timd@tennistalent.co.uk. Click Next.

Step 2: To Gmailify or not to Gmailify

You may be given an option to link accounts using Gmailify rather than from a POP3 account (or you may not). Gmailify is Google’s service to suck Hotmail and its ilk into Google, on the assumption that you’d prefer to use the Gmail interface.

As such, it isn’t relevant to what we’re trying to do here. If that option does come up, ignore it, and instead select the option of “Import emails from my other account (POP3)”.

Step 3: Grab your POP3 settings from your website supplier

Here’s where it gets trickier. In many cases, Gmail won’t be clever enough to automatically detect the right settings for your website supplier. If it does then great – you just need to add your password and, probably, alter the username from “timd” to “timd@tennistalent.co.uk”. That is, use your full email address.

Assuming it wasn’t clever enough to fill in the details, you’ll need to hunt these out yourself, but Google is your friend: a search such as “email settings 1and1”, where 1and1 is the name of my web host in this example, will probably tell you what you need to know.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to hunt through the support information on your web host’s site or ask them by email or phone.

Step 4: Choose what happens to your email

Professional email
If your website is hosted by 1and1.co.uk, then these are the settings you need

Here I’ve entered my username, password and POP details already. I definitely don’t want to tick the option to leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server; that will simply fill it up, and 1and1 (like most web hosts) will charge you once you go over a certain storage limit. Or stop sending or receiving messages.

It does make sense to use a secure connection, so click that, and if you’re using your regular Gmail account then I also recommend labelling messages. You can create your own label by hitting the dropdown arrow and selecting “New label…”.

Unless you expect all email you receive to be for reference only – so no need to act upon it – there’s little point in ticking the automatic archiving option.

Step 5: Add account

Now press “Add Account”. If you get an error, check the username. Rather than timd, it only worked for timd@tennistalent.co.uk in my example.

Professional email
If you see this message, all is going smoothly

If you can see this message, you’re almost there. You now just have to add permission to send email as well as receive it. Click Next.

Step 6: Set up your alias

For this guide, we’re going to assume that you want to reply to emails using the same email address (so, if someone emailed me at timd@tennistalent.co.uk then they’d get a reply from timd@tennistalent.co.uk). You can set it up to reply from a different email address by specifying a different reply-to address.

Professional email
Adding SMTP server details means you can send emails, not just receive them

So, click Next Step and add your SMTP details from your web host (you would get these at the same time as Step 4). Unless your web host advises you otherwise, stick with the recommended option of a “Secured connection using TLS”.

Now press “Add Account”.

Step 7: Verify the email address

The final step is to check your email – usually via a web interface that you log into via your web host provider. You can either click the verification link within or paste the confirmation code it contains into the pop-up box.

Step 8: Change your default email?

Now when you compose an email in Gmail you’ll have two choices in the “From” field: your Gmail address and the address you’ve just set up, so timd@tennistalent.co.uk in my case.

If you want the second address to be your new default then head back to Settings in Gmail, and again click on “Accounts and Import”. Select “make as default” next to the address and you’re set.

Read this next: What is Inbox Zero?

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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  • A good explanation Tim. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen, say, a van with a professional website domain on it, TimThePlumber.com, for example, and then immediately underneath it has a contact of ‘timtheplumber@hotmail.com’, just to really shatter the illusion.

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