Getting our email set up is, of course, a very important step in building and running our web projects. I always advocate for separating your essential web services, and using dedicated vendors for each. And the same holds true for email. There are significant drawbacks to simply using free email that comes with your web hosting—issues like spam, unreliability, and security.
However, if you’re running a very small project, you maybe don’t want to go to the expense of using a dedicated email service like Google G Suite or Microsoft Office 365. But you’ll still want site-branded, professional looking email (like
If you’re in this situation, then you can always use your web host’s email service, and route it through Gmail. This allows you to take advantage of Gmail’s benefits (mobility, ease of use, and so on) at no extra cost to you.
Before we get into it, I first want to discuss how all of this is going to work. There are some pros and cons to piping your web host’s email through Gmail, so I want to make sure we’re all on the same page and understand exactly what’s going to happen before we go and do it. Then, we’ll get into the steps for actually setting this up. Rather than having a huge list of steps, I’ve broken the process into three parts, Creating Your Email Address Within Your Web Host, Connecting Your Email Address To Gmail, and finally Connecting To Your Web Host’s SMTP (Sending) Mail Server.
I’ll be sure to keep the steps clear and simple. I should note too that the steps that I provide below show you how to do this with a web host that uses the cPanel admin interface (this is the case with web hosts like Web Hosting Hub and SiteGround). Other web hosts will have a similar set up.
Once you work your way through this process, you’ll have your free, site-branded email account from your web hosting connected to your Gmail account—and, you’ll be able to send and receive with this emai accountl from directly within Gmail.
It’s pretty cool stuff, so let’s check it out!
As promised, the first order of business is to make sure that we understand exactly how this is going to work, and some benefits and drawbacks of using this technique.
So how this is going to work is, we’re going to first create an email account through your web host’s cPanel first. When we do this, your host is going to provide us with some technical information related to your email account’s settings. What we’re after specifically are some mail server and port settings. This might sound kinda technical, but it’s not too bad. The first thing that’s important to know is that when we send email, we can do so via a few different methods, like IMAP, "forward," and POP3. I’ll show you how to set all of this up using the most popular method, POP3. You should also know that when email’s sent, something called an SMTP server is used.
If your eyes have completely glazed over, don’t worry about it! Again, it’s jargonny but you’ll see just how straightforward it actually is in just a few moments.
Now, to pull all of this off, you’ll obviously need web hosting that comes with free email, and your own domain name. If you’re using a web host that doesn’t include email—hosts like Flywheel and WP Engine, for example—then this process won’t work. Instead, you’ll need a dedicated email service.
The other thing you’ll need is, obviously, a free Gmail account, too.
What’s great about using this method for handling your website’s email is, if you’re already familiar with Gmail, then you already know about all the great benefits—you can send and receive email from wherever you are, either via a desktop browser or from your mobile device. And, you know that all your email is going to be synchronized between all of your devices. Free Gmail accounts also come with free calendars, 15gb of storage, Google Drive access, Google Docs, and a bunch of other good stuff.
However, as mentioned, there are some drawbacks to this approach. The biggest is this: We’re not using a dedicated, business-grade email service. Instead, our email is still tangled up with our web hosting. If anything happens to our web hosting, our website’s email will also be impacted. In otherwords, if your website goes down, so does your email. Further, if you ever want to move your website to a new host, it could be problematic because even though you’re pulling email into Gmail, you’re still relying on the old web host’s email servers. This ties into another issue we should be aware of: Because we’re still using our web host’s email servers, this means spam and reliability could be an issue as well. In fact, most web hosting email is insecure and unreliable.
Truthfully, all of the problems I outlined in my previous tutorial about separating your crucial web services won’t be solved using the approach I’m outlining in this tutorial. All we’re doing here is piping our web host’s email into Gmail. So, we’re not really using the Gmail email service…we’re really just taking advantage of Gmail’s interface and mobility.
If you want to ensure that the above problems are solved, and solve them with Gmail, then you’d have to sign up for a full Google G Suite account. I’ve used G Suite for quite a while with a few of my web projects, and I love it. Plans start at just $5/month per user. If you’re interested, you might want to check out this tutorial where I show you how to set up G Suite for your website. The other alternative is Microsoft Office 365 service. I compare these two business-grade, dedicated email services in this tutorial.
But, as I mentioned earlier, if you’re running a very small project and want to avoid the costs of dedicated email service, and want to use Gmail as your email interface, then the method we’re about to walk through is going to be a perfect fit.
You now know the pros and cons of routing your host-based email through Gmail. If you’re ready to set it up, then let’s get going!
Okay, so despite some of the downsides to this method, which I outlined above, let’s take a look at setting up Gmail to send and receive email from our web host’s email service. First, we’ll set up an email account with our web host, then after that, we’ll connect Gmail to your web host’s mail servers.
The first thing we’ll need to do is set up the email in cPanel. Let’s go do that…
Usually, this is just
If you like, you can use the handy Password Generator to create a secure password.
You can leave this set to the default. Some web hosts allow for unlimited inbox size, you can use that setting if you want.
Great, you’ve created your new site-branded email address!
Now all we need to do is get your web host’s mail server settings for the new account—we’ll need these settings to connect Gmail to your email account. We’ll do that next.
Let’s put the brakes on here. As mentioned above, we’ll need to have these settings nearby when we go to plug them into Gmail. And that’s coming up next.
Okay, so you’ve created your professional, site branded email address via cPanel. Now we want to connect this email address to Gmail. Let’s see how that’s done…
Okay, the first part of the process is complete—you’ve created your site branded email address. Now let’s head into the second part, which is to hook your new email address into your Gmail account. Specifically, what we’ll do in this section is set up the ability to receive email to your new email address. Later in the third part, we’ll set up Gmail to send email from this address too.
I mentioned this back towards the beginning of this tutorial, but I’ll mention it again: To receive email, there are a few different ways to do this, like using "forward" and IMAP, but I’ll show you the most popular method, which is POP3. All POP3 means is that Gmail is going to regularly check your web host’s email server and pull it into Gmail. Let’s take a look at how to do this.
Alright, let’s now set up Gmail to pull email off your host’s email server. In the steps below, I’m assuming that you already have a free Gmail account.
This is the username and password you set for your new email account back in cPanel.
To get this information, you’ll have to go back to the screen you left open earlier in cPanel. Back in cPanel, you’ll likely want to use the Secure SSL/TLS Settings. Notice under this section, we have information for Incoming Server. Here we’ll find the information we need—for me the POP Server is going to be
secure337.sgcpanel.com and the Port is 995.
For example, you might want to keep a copy of each email on your host’s email server, or have incoming messages bypass the inbox and get archived. Personally, when I’ve set this up for myself in the past, I never bothered keeping a copy of my messages on the server, because that eats into my website’s hosting space. I also liked to label my incoming messages, so I could easily distinguish them from messages sent to my personal Gmail account.
Gmail will now attempt to connect to your host’s incoming mail server. If Gmail can connect, you’ll see a success page which asks you if you’d also like to be able to send from this email account. Great!
If Gmail can’t connect to your host’s incoming mail server, double-check your settings and try again. If Google still can’t connect, try using the Non-SSL Settings, which you’ll find back in cPanel.
Alright, we’re on to our third and final phase of this process. You’ve created an email account in cPanel, you’ve connected to it in Gmail, which is great. Now what we want to do is set up the ability to send with this email account via Gmail.
You might recall that I mentioned earlier that this is done using something called an SMTP server. That’s your web host server that we’ll connect Gmail to.
Setting up the sending mail server is pretty straightforward…
This could be your full name or your business’s name. Whatever you put here will show up in the From column in the receiver’s inbox.
Once again, you’ll find this info back in cPanel. This time, the info you want is listed under Outgoing Server.
Make sure to enter the full email address.
Gmail then checks your SMTP credentials. If the connection is successful, Gmail will send a confirmation email to your new email account. You’ll need to log into your new email account to complete the confirmation.
It doesn’t really matter which one you choose. However, you may have to click the grey Got It button in the top-right corner before being able to choose an email application.
Once your email application loads, you’ll find an email from the Gmail Team. Inside this email, you’ll find a confirmation code that you’ll need to copy into the pop-up window back in Gmail.
If you haven’t received Gmail’s confirmation email yet, head back to the Gmail pop-up window and click Resend.
The pop-up window disappears. Your Gmail account is now connected to your web host’s incoming and outgoing mail servers. Awesome!
Be sure to test out your email address inside Gmail. For example, try sending to this email address, and also try sending from this email address as well. Everything should work perfectly.
Back in Gmail’s settings screen, a nice touch is to make your host-based email address your default email address. You can do this by clicking Make Default adjacent to the email account. What’s nice about this is that when you go to send a new email, it will choose your new, site branded email address as the default sender.
Another neat trick is to force Gmail to pull email from the mail server manually. Remember earlier when I said that POP3 would periodically check for new mail? Well, you can force Gmail to check mail by clicking Check Mail Now, which is found in the Check Mail From Other Accounts area, adjacent to your email address.
This comes in handy if you suspect Gmail isn’t pulling email from your mail server.
Okay, so if you followed all the steps above, you should now be able to send and receive email using your site branded email address, all from within your Gmail account. Nice!
To recap, we first talked about exactly how all of this was going to work, including some of the pros and cons of using this technique. With the preamble out of the way, we jumped right into the first of our three-part setup process, setting up a new email account via our cPanel interface. This part was fairly straightforward. The second part was to add our new email account to our Gmail settings page. Here, we had to establish a connection from Gmail to your web host’s POP3 mail server. Finally, in part three, we got Gmail to connect to your outgoing mail servers. I hope you got it all to work.
So that’s how we can set up a business email using Gmail. This is a pretty good set up for your website email, again for smaller web projects. If you’re thinking that you might want something a little more secure, reliable, and flexible to handle your email in the future, make sure to check out the full Google G Suite service. I have some further info on it right here.
See you soon!