How to set up Gmail to send and receive emails using your domain name (without paying anything)

Also known as “How to set up your free Gmail account to send and receive emails using your domain name without spending ANY money (except what you already spent to buy your domain name)

The answer you will usually get is “this is not possible with a free Gmail account: you need to use Google app“. The issue is that Google app is not free anymore and that you need to pay $5/user/month: that’s a bit expensive if all you want is to be able to send/receive emails using me@mydomain.com instead of me@gmail.com

Option #1: Using email forwarding & using the “reply-to” field

Note: clearly not the best approach, but I thought I would document it anyway.

So the first thing I tried to do is to purchase no-ip (that’s my domain name registrar) email forwarding service so that all emails sent to “me@mydomain.com” get forwarded to “me@gmail.com”. This is very straightforward to setup in the no-ip admin console, in the manage mail section:

forward

By the way, when you activate the email forwarding option, no-ip automatically adds the “mx.noip.com” MX record to your host.

Next thing to do is going to “Gmail > Settings > Accounts and Import” and edit the “send mail as” section to add a reply-to address:

edit email address

So if you use “me@mydomain.com” as your reply-to address, people receiving your mail will see this:

reply-to

Said differently: the email says that it comes from me@gmail.com, but replies will go to me@mydomain.com

So let’s recap the drawbacks of this first option:

  • First, you need to setup email forwarding which may come at a cost (for no-ip, this is an additional $10/year/domain).
  • Second, emails sent by you will NOT hide the fact that they were sent from “me@gmail.com”.

Option #2: buying a full mail service from your registrar

No-ip email service is yet an additional $10/year/domain for 1 mailbox and 5 GB of storage. Here are the setup instructions once you’ve purchased the service.

If instead of using their webmail you want to use the Gmail user interface (which by the way is the whole purpose of this article), then follow the instructions in the next chapter, which will need to be adapted to use no-ip instead of Zoho.

Option #3: using an intermediate email provider that gives you a free domain

OK, here is the interesting part: with this option you don’t need to spend any penny: all you need is a domain name and a free Gmail account.

The whole idea is to find another email provider that will allow you to send/receive emails using me@domain.com for free, and to then link this email provider with your free Gmail account.

Step #1: registration

While looking for email providers that directly allows you to send/receive emails using your domain for free, I found Zoho email service. For 0$ you get 10 users, 5GB/users and most importantly they can host 1 domain:

zoho free

Click on “get started” and enter your domain:

add domain

Then, you’ll need to prove that you really own the domain: this is a standard procedure so I’m not going to explain how to use the various options. The one that I’ve used is the one where they give you an HTML file that you need to upload in the webserver that sits behind http://www.mydomain.com

Once your Zoho mail account is setup, you then need to update your domain MX records and enter the “Zoho values”. If you use no-ip, go to the “update host” screen and in the “mail options” section, enter these values:

mail options

Wait for the values to be propagated (you can use a MX lookup tool like mxtoolbox to check that) and voilà: you can now use Zoho email service to send/receive emails using me@mydomain.com

But wait… didn’t we say that we wanted to do this from Gmail and not from Zoho ???

Step #2: adding Gmail to the mix

First thing to do: configuring Zoho so that it forwards all emails sent to “me@mydomain.com” to “me@gmail.com”

In the Zoho mail control panel, go to “email forwarding and POP/imap” and add a forward rule:

zoho email forwarding

Then go to Gmail, go to “Settings > Accounts and Import” and click on “Add another email you own”:

add another email

Then enter Zoho’s SMTP server information:

  • SMTP server: smtp.zoho.com
  • Username: your Zoho email login, which should be something like “me@mydomain.com” (this depends on how your Zoho account was setup)
  • Password: your Zoho email password

send mail through

And voilà: you can now use Gmail to send/receive emails using me@mydomain.com:

  • When someone send an email to me@mydomain.com, Zoho receives it and forwards it to “me@gmail.com” (thanks to the forwarding rule you setup in Zoho).
  • When you send an email from Gmail, Gmail asks Zoho to sends it, and Zoho of course sends it as “me@mydomain.com” (because you configured Gmail so that it uses Zoho SMTP service).

Laurent KUBASKI

Navigating in a Word 2010 document using hyperlinks and bookmarks

OK, I’ve clicked on an hyperlink in a Word 2010 document and I’m now in a totally different page: “how the hell do I jump back to the page I was before clicking on the link ?“.

As surprising as it seem, there is no “back” button anywhere.

Took me at least 15 minutes to find the answer, which is: hold ALT+left arrow key.

Happy now ? 🙂

Laurent KUBASKI

 

Ordering wordpress menu items

Note: when I talk about wordpress here, I’m talking about the http://www.wordpress.com online service.

There are many available themes available for your wordpress blog, and they all come with at least one menu. The one I’m using is called “Enterprise” and comes with two menus. By default, the top menu contains my blog “pages” and the bottom menu contains my blog “categories”:

blog_menu

A common requirement is: how do I change the ordering of the menu entries ? (ie: what if I want the “uncategorized” category to be the last one ?)

Some people suggested adding a number if front of each category (like “1. Android” and “2. Linux”), hoping that wordpress would display the entries in the ascending order, but this doesn’t work. The truth is that this is not possible if you use the default theme menus: you need to create your own.

To do this, go to the “Appearance > Menu” section of your dashboard:

dashboard_menu

You will then see a “Theme locations” section with two dropdown lists. This is where you can specify your top and bottom menus (that is: if your theme allows two menus of course). By default, nothing is selected, which means that the theme built-in menus are used. As I said above, if you want to control exactly how your menus are organized, you need to create your own menus instead of using the built-in ones:

theme_locations_default

To create a new menu, click on the “+” button:

create_menu

Then, select the pages and/or categories that should be part of your menu and click on the “Add to menu” button:

pages_categories

Once the entries are added to your menu, use drag and drop to move them around until they are in the correct order.

drag_category

Finally, don’t forget to click on the “Save Menu” button !

Then, go back to the “Theme Locations” section and set your newly created menu as the primary one:

theme_locations_custom

There you go:

blog_menu_custom

SSO terminology

Single sign-on, automatic sign-on, federated identity, authentication, authorization… all these terms may be confusing to you (they were to me when I started gathering information).

Luckily, the guys from AssureBridge have created a great post that explain everything in a short, concise way.

Now if you want more information: use the force Wikipedia !

Laurent KUBASKI

Email signatures from hell

When I was a developer, I used to mainly exchange emails with fellow developers and my email signature was usually “Laurent”. Short, concise, simple: in fact, I used to actually type it by hand instead of telling my mail client to automatically generate it for me (crazy huh ?).

And then, I started working with managers, marketers & consultants and these guys – especially consultants – heavily use the “automatic e-mail signature appending” feature of their email client. Have you already received e-mails where the signature was even longer that the mail itself ? Welcome to my world !

I’ve gathered some of these emails: the sender name/company name/telephone numbers have been changed to protect the guilty, but apart from that, these signatures are 100% legit.

First the short one: name – title – company – address – telephone – web site. That’s a total of 6 lines: rating = 9/10.

Then, you have people that really, really, really want to make sure that you can reach them. In this example, we have a total of 12 lines: rating = 5/10.

Some people solve this “multiple numbers” issue by having multiple numbers on the same line. Here we have a total of 5 lines: rating = 8/10.

 

Now if you think that it’s almost impossible to reach 5/10, just include a footer that no one will read and you have a winner ! In this example, the company address is not mentioned and the office + mobile numbers are grouped on a single line: a good start !

Alas, the 6 lines footer results in a 12 lines email signature. Rating = 5/10.

To go below the 5/10 rating, you have to be creative. Like this one where the footer is 7 lines long (that’s longer that the full signature used as my first example), and where the author happily adds a link to the product he’s in charge of. This gives us a total of  15 lines for a rating of 3/10.

And now ladies and gentlemen, the clear winner with its unique combo of name – title – company name – address – office/fax number – website – upcoming company events and 10 lines footer for a total of 25 lines and a rating of 1/10.

Laurent KUBASKI

When do you study new technologies ?

I received many mails after my previous post. Some people told me that “you should not be allowed to study new technologies during SCRUM sprints“.

Really ? Let’s see when you do it then ! 🙂

Why I hate SCRUM daily stand-up meetings

I’ve been doing SCRUM stand-up meetings for 2 years before switching to a pre-sales role, and I’m going to tell you why I hated this.

Disclaimer #1: think again before posting your”you don’t understand what SCRUM is” comment. First, this blog post is not about SCRUM in general, but specifically about SCRUM daily stand-up meetings. Then, I fully understand the concept – thank you – but it’s just that I (ie: “me”) don’t like it and I think that there are other ways to achieve the same results.

Disclaimer #2: yes, this is about what I selfishly think… but it’s my blog so I do what I want 😉

Let’s all happily meet in the morning ! (late people will be crucified)

First, the meeting is supposed to begin every morning at the same time. Why in the morning ? Because “it helps set the context for the coming day’s work“. The issue is that developers – in France anyway – don’t like being told when to arrive in the morning: you arrive early, you leave early, you arrive late, you leave late !

But not anymore: with the SCRUM daily meetings, everyone needs to arrive more or less at the same time every morning (talk about freedom !). And if you arrive too early, you just wait for everyone while checking your favorite websites.Why ? Because it takes a while for you to get “in the zone” … and you don’t want to be interrupted during that time right ?

Did you clean your room honey ?

Then, let’s talk about the famous 3 questions: “What did I do yesterday ? What will I do today ? Do I have any impediments ?

Sounds like what my mum was asking me when I was 5 years old. “Well, yesterday at school, I learnt how to write my name. And today, I’m going to do some painting… but it’s hard: can you help me mommy ?“.

On top of this, the need to setup a meeting to learn what my collegues are working on feels so wrong to me. As the member of a team, I happen to know what people are working on just by talking to them during coffee/lunch breaks. Also, reading SVN commits comments is a great way to keep an eye on what people are doing.

Join up, they said! It’s a man’s life, they said!

Finally, I’ve always liked testing new software components. This is a way for me to learn new stuff, which is always exciting… and it keeps me motivated.

The problem with the daily meetings is that you cannot say things like: “well, yesterday I finished working on the billing component and today I’m going to spend a couple hours studying this new PDF rendering library because it looks very cool, even if this is something that has nothing to do with the backlog“.

So why don’t I like standup meetings ?

  • because I don’t want to be told exactly when to arrive in the morning.
  • because I don’t want to wait for everyone to arrive before being able to really start coding.
  • because I don’t need a daily meeting to know who is working on what (I’m a social guy and I use coffee breaks and lunchs to talk about that !)
  • because I don’t need to scream for help: I know who can help me if I’m stucked.
  • because I’m big boy !

Laurent KUBASKI