Google Apps for domains

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Google has expanded their Gmail service into a new area – Google Apps for domains. This might sound very complex and for business but it is neither.

Google’s service lets you manage the email accounts for an entire domain – not just a single address. This gives you many options not available for a single email account.

Most important you have portability – since you own the domain name, you can allocate email accounts and aliases however and whenever you like. You are not tied to a particular Internet Provider – if they let you down, you can switch to another service without the hassle of changing email addresses.

It’s not for everyone, but it IS for many more people than use it now – we’ll explain why and how in this issue.

Emails for domains

Some families we know have a domain for the entire family. There’s an email address for husband, wife and each of the kids. When the kids are young the email account is monitored by their parents. Now the kids have grown they have domains of their own, as well as keeping their ‘family’ email address.

Other people have a domain name for the broader family – uncles, aunts, in-laws etc can all have an email alias pointing to their regular email account. If they change internet provider they simply change the re-direction on their email alias.

One friend of Peter’s got a domain name for his birthday! His surname as a domain name was already taken (eg but add his initial to form a new, available for purchase, domain name (eg Now he has a single portable email account plus several aliases. His main address is simply ” [email protected] ” with his domain name.

You can purchase a domain name from various domain registrars.

Gmail for Domains

Once you have a domain you can let Google manage the email for the entire domain. The service is free and operates by invitation – however at the moment invitations are given out fairly promptly. Start here.

You get some email accounts which operate just like Gmail but with an address in your own domain, instead of

Email aliases are called ‘nicknames’ by Gmail

An ’email list’ is a group of email addresses can be grouped under a single name.

There is also shared calendars, chat and even a web page creator for the domain’s web site.

The setup is quite clear, you nominate the domain you want to use. Google works out who the domain registrar is and in most cases will give you step-by-step instructions on how to change the DNS records so your email is directed to Google’s servers.

Choosing a domain

Choosing a domain takes a bit of thought and care because you’ll use it for years and decades.

A short domain name is best. The fewer letters you have, the less chance there is for a typing error. Of course that’s a problem because most short domains are taken.

We’re inclined to go for a .com domain – it’s the top level domain that most people are used to. Other domains are less well known and you may find people will write ‘.com’ even if you tell them something else.

In addition .com is relatively cheap (less than US$10 a year), can be purchased for up to ten years and there is no practical limit on who can get one.

Other countries are less flexible. For example a domain in Australia is considerably more expensive, can only be renewed for two years and there are limits on the name you can use.

Always check the annual price, how long you can renew for and what limitations are on the name and who can purchase.

The best advice is to pick a domain name that sounds good. Imagine yourself telling someone the email address over the phone, if it makes sense verbally then it should work well and less likely to be misunderstood.

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