Google has decided to fuck over its early adopters. Way back in 2006, Google announced Google Apps for Your Domain. Basically it was Gmail - but you could use your own domain. No more
firstname.lastname@example.org now you could be
At the time, they said:
organizations that sign up during the beta period will not ever have to pay for users accepted during that period (provided Google continues to offer the service).
Google still offers the service - since renamed G-Suite, then Workplace, and next week to be renamed Google Plus for Work Home Edition Beta. But they're now going to charge people for it. Fair enough I guess⸮ Of course, Google don't offer a personal plan or a family plan - you have to sign up to an ENTERPRISE PLAN FOR SRS BZNIZ. Which is about £50 per user per year.
So, here's a quick(ish) guide to transferring your domain to a free*
* For now. Perhaps they'll start charging tomorrow.
Note: Obviously the better solution is to leave Google and go to Zoho, ProtonMail, or some other company. But some of us are used to the Gmail app or don't have the patience to run our own email server.
- Sign up for a new Gmail account
- Import your mail
- Stop sending mail to Google
- Catch All
- 1. Forward your email
- 2. Check your email
- Send email from Gmail using your domain
- Summing Up
- Fuck You Google
Go to Gmail.com and sign up for a new account. If your domain was
example.biz then I recommend signing up for
email@example.com. That'll be easy to remember.
Just go through the usual sign up process. Remember to pick a strong password and to turn on 2FA.
Google offers a mail import feature. You can find it in "Settings".
Turn on POP in your old email. Then give your new Gmail account your old account's username and password.
firstname.lastname@example.org as the username, the server will be
pop.gmail.com with port
995. And then your old password.
Note: If you have 2-Factor-Authentication turned on, you will either need to turn it off, or set up an App Specific Password. That will let Gmail log into Gmail to get your Gmail.
This process will take a long time - mine took about 24 hours. Oh, and you will find that Gmail will mark a bunch of legitimate email as spam. Better double check everything!
You'll also probably want to mark everything as "read".
Google doesn't make this stuff easy!
I went via Google Takeout - which also allowed me to grab anything in Google Docs.
Note: This can take a while - but it is useful to have a backup.
It took a couple of hours to generate mine.
Google doesn't support importing a Gmail export. Because they hate you and want you to suffer.
There is a command-line tool for restoring an MBOX backup to Gmail. I've not tried it though.
If you set up Google Apps For Your Domain - your MX Records will be directing all email to Gmail's servers. You'll need to change that. Here's where things get tricky.
Log in to your domain management console. I can't tell you how to do this. You will need to go to something like "Zone Editor" where you'll see something like this:
You will need to change all of your mail related records so that they point to your web-host's mail provider. Again, I can't help you with this. Speak to your hosting provider to find the details you need.
You will need to set up a "catch all" email address - this is sometimes called "default routing". You want any email to
@example.biz to be received rather than rejected.
You may need to set up a new username and password. Keep these safe - you may need them later.
Now your email is being received by your host. You have two options
This is harder to set up, but I find it to be quicker at delivering email.
Find the email forwarding set up with your domain provider. Set it so that every email to your catch-all is redirected to
That means each email to your domain will go to your new gmail address.
This is simpler, but it does mean that your email isn't always delivered straight away.
Back in Gmail, go to settings, and select "Import mail and contacts"
Give Gmail your catch-all email's address and password. Google will periodically check your mail and move it to your new Gmail account.
OK! You can now receive
email@example.com via Gmail! But what about sending?
Follow the guide to sending Gmail using an alias. Basically, give them the username and password for the catch-all email address you created.
This will send email via your domain provider's mailservers.
You may need to set up DMARC, SPF, and DKIM on your domain. This is outside the scope of this article and you should speak to your domain provider.
- Register a new Gmail address
- Import your old email into your new address
- Remove the Gmail MX records on your domain
- Add MX records to point to your host's mailserver
- Set up a catch-all email address
- Forward all email to Gmail
- Set up an email alias which sends via your mail servers
Google could have implemented this as a one-click solution. "Hey, if you don't want to pay, click here to transfer to a personal Gmail account. You'll lose all these great workspace features, but keep your email address."
They didn't. Which is a pity.
If you can, switch your email completely away from Google. If you can't, I hope the above is useful.