Hey there, fellow Earth-dwellers! For my first ever blog post, I'd like to show you how to get a free email account for your domain. That way you can send and receive emails from email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org - nobody wants that. There's no obvious connection to literature or the arts here, but I'm certain many of you will be interested nonetheless.
Email should be free! But if you go to any of the big providers, like Google ($50/yr), Yahoo ($35/yr), or Wix.com ($49/yr), you'll find it's not. It's easy to forward emails for free, so that when I email your domain email address (email@example.com), it gets delivered to your personal email account (firstname.lastname@example.org). But that won't allow you to send me an email from email@example.com. And don't even think about accessing it through a mobile app.
Since I couldn't find a guide on how to do this, I went to great pains to figure it out for myself. In this post, I'll explain how you can set this up without going through the same struggle, and even get it on your mobile device, all for the low, low price of...$0/yr!
Before I begin, let me lay out my settings: I used Firefox v40.0.3, a Samsung Galaxy S5 running Android v4.4.4 (no Lollipop for J.D., thanks), and the Microsoft Outlook app for Android v1.3.9 on September 20, 2015. This should take you between 20-40 minutes in total. The Internet is ever-changing, so what works today isn't guaranteed to work in a decade from now.
All right, let's get started!
1. Open your browser and go to www.outlook.com
You might be asking right away, "Really, J.D.? Outlook?" I tried to make the mobile access work with Gmail but it simply wouldn't. If you can make it work, please share your secret sauce with the rest of us.
2. Select the option to create a new account (unless you already have a hotmail/outlook account).
3. Enter your personal information, including backup email account, and confirm the account. Let's call ours firstname.lastname@example.org
If you already have a Gmail account, you can now skip to step 8.
4. Open a new tab and go to www.google.com
5. Click the sign in button.
6. Choose the option to create a new account.
7. Enter your personal information and confirm the account. Let's call ours email@example.com
8. Open a new tab and go to domains.google.com
If you already own the domain you want to use, you can skip to step 14. However, if you own it with a domain registrar other than Google, you may need to transfer it into Google Domains to follow the rest of this guide. You may be able to follow this guide without transferring the domain - I haven't tried it.
9. Use the search bar to find the domain you want to use. Let's call ours mysite.com
10. Add the domain to your cart and proceed to checkout.
11. Enter your personal information and choose to begin your purchase.
I recommend selecting the "Make my info private" option - this will hide your personal information from the general public and protect you from large waves of spam.
12. You'll be prompted to set up a Google Wallet if you don't already have one.
The only payment method Google Wallet allows at this time is credit or debit card. If you don't feel comfortable giving this out online, contact your card provider to see if they offer a temporary card number. Even if they don't you can buy a gift debit card at most major retailers and use that. In the worst case scenario you can delete your card information from Google Wallet afterward. Just remember, at this time next year you'll have to pay to renew the domain!
13. Confirm your purchase, which should cost $12 for any domain you choose.
The flat fee is a nice feature of Google Domains, compared to most domain registrars, who use variable pricing and charge extra for privacy.
14. Once you've got your domain set up in Google Domains, you'll see an email icon on the screen.
15. Click it to open the email forwarding menu.
16. Enter the local part name you want into the lefthand box. Let's call ours myname
17. Enter the name of your Outlook account (firstname.lastname@example.org) into the righthand box.
18. Click the add button to send a verification email to the Outlook account.
19. Go back to your Outlook tab and open the verification email in your inbox.
20. Click the verify button in the email and...you've successfully set up email forwarding!!!
Now when someone sends an email to email@example.com will be delivered to firstname.lastname@example.org. But that's only part of what we want to accomplish, next we'll set up the ability to send emails from email@example.com!
21. In your Outlook tab, you'll see a gear icon.
22. Click the icon and select options from the drop-down menu.
23. Choose the menu option to manage aliases or choose a primary.
You may be prompted to verify your identity before it allows you to access this menu.
24. Select the option to add an email.
25. Select the option to add an existing email address as a Microsoft account alias.
26. Enter firstname.lastname@example.org in the box and click the add alias button.
27. Locate email@example.com in the list (it's only two items long) and click the option to make it the primary.
28. You'll be prompted to verify the alias by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
29. Agree to send the email and return to your Outlook inbox to find the verification email.
Amazingly, it may go to your spam folder, even though it originated from Microsoft. Heck of a job, Softee.
30. Open the email and click the link to verify the alias.
31. Return to the manage aliases page and again click the option to make email@example.com the primary alias.
Be patient here, as Outlook says it can take up to 48 hours. Or it might take a few seconds. Whatever you do, don't panic and start pressing buttons - this could botch the whole operation.
32. Keep calm and eventually firstname.lastname@example.org will show up as the primary alias.
Congratulations! Now you can both send and receive emails from email@example.com, completely free! You can even delete firstname.lastname@example.org from the alias lists if you want, and log into your Outlook account using email@example.com.
But let's not stop the party there, because this isn't 2005 - nobody wants an email address that's only accessible in a web browser. Let's go for the gold and make firstname.lastname@example.org accessiblefrom the mobile app! I use a Samsung Galaxy S5, so my guide will be specific to Android, but if you have an iPhone or Windows phone (really?), it should be very similar.
33. Navigate to the Google Play Store.
34. Search for the Microsoft Outlook app and install it.
This app is the reason why you created an Outlook account in the early steps of the guide - the Gmail app simply wouldn't do what the Outlook app does. I went through these steps with v1.3.9, presumably this will work with future versions of the app, but you can never be sure.
35. Open the app.
36. Click get started to open the add account screen.
37. Enter email@example.com as your email address and put in your password to log in.
If you've followed all the steps correctly to this point, the inbox for firstname.lastname@example.org will open and you're done!!!! Email should be free! And now it is. Thanks for reading, and if you're hanging out for a minute, check out the rest of the website!
May 09, 2016 update: Title changed from "How to Get a Truly Free Business Email Address on Desktop and Mobile"