Techno Tip #2: Adding an Email Address to Gmail without the “On Behalf Of” Problem

You can use Gmail to consolidate (pull) emails from other email accounts, effectively using Gmail as a powerful browser-based email solution.  Used this way, Gmail functions similarly to computer-based email solutions like Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.  Gmail allows you to add (via Gmail “Settings”) any number of additional “email addresses you own”, and will fetch emails from those accounts into your Gmail account.  You can even tell Gmail that you want your replies to automatically reply using the email address to which the incoming email was sent.  Sounds good, right?  Well, it is — but there’s something you need to consider.

Depending on how you “add another email address you own”, the SENDING of emails as that address will be handled in one of two ways:

  • The “easier” way (Gmail even labels it thus) which allows Gmail to handle the sending
  • The “Send through SMPT servers” way, which is a bit more complicated.

The “On Behalf Of” Problem

For obvious reasons, people often choose the easier way.  This works fine, but if you’re trying to make your emails look professional, you may want to go the SMTP route.  Here’s why.

When you send (or reply to) an email where Gmail is handling the outgoing email processing (the “easier” way), the email arrives in the recipient’s inbox showing your account’s GMAIL address as the “From” address, but adds “on behalf of” your OTHER email address.  First of all, this doesn’t look very professional (especially if your Gmail account happens to use a whimsical Gmail address).  Second, it means that any replies to your sent emails are going to go to your Gmail address.  Not so good if you’re trying to keep things organized.

Solving the Problem

If you want to get rid of the “on behalf of” thing and make it look TOTALLY like you sent the email from your “other” email address, you need to update the added account’s settings.  Here’s how:

  1. Go to Gmail Settings > Accounts and Import.
  2. Click “Edit Info” for the email account you’d like to fix.
  3. The first pop-up screen will be fine.  Click “Next”.
  4. This is where you need to make the changes.  Instead of having Gmail do the sending, you need to click the “Send through [yourdomain] SMTP servers”.  Selecting that option will expand the dialog box to allow you to input the SMTP server info.  This information is available through your web host or email account provider.  If you’ve set up your smart phone to access the email account, you can probably find the info there.

Steps 3 & 4 apply if you’re setting up your additional email account in Gmail for the first time and want to avoid the “on behalf of” problem from the outset.

Gmail will send a “confirmation” to the “email address you own” to verify ownership.

Doesn’t Work for Added Gmail Accounts

The technique I describe above is based on the assumption that you’re using a single Gmail account to pull in one or more additional NON-Gmail accounts.  Only non-Gmail accounts have the ability to send emails through a different server (the server on which your website/domain resides, for example).  There IS no “other server” for Gmail accounts, so Gmail does not even give you an option to specify that you want to send emails through another server if you’re trying to add a second Gmail address to an existing Gmail account.

As far as I can tell, the only way to add a second Gmail address to an existing Gmail account is by using the Delegation function.  This allows, for example, an executive assistant to manage the boss’ email account.  But because it’s designed with delegation in mind, it automatically applies the “on behalf of” verbiage so that recipients can know that the email actually came from the authorized executive assistant, but not directly from the boss.

Unless Google has come up with something new, I don’t think there’s a way you can do what you want to do with 2 Gmail addresses.  The only consolation I can offer at this point is that Google has made it easier than it used to be to switch from one Gmail account to another:

If you have questions, need help with this process, or know of something related to this process that I should be aware of and document here, please contact me.

“Tech’s not scary when knowledge tags along” SM


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