Does your virtual office get bogged down in e-mail? Are you tired of juggling six different email accounts, three different email websites, and two different email clients on your two computers? And what about your iPhone? Don’t have a corporate IT department providing and supporting an Exchange account? Is there a free virtual solution?

Using a no-cost service such as Google Mail, you can tie all these accounts into one virtual account, and then access that one account through any of your computers or mobile devices and have them all synced up!

You can even send an email from your iPhone while commuting down Highway 101, and find it in your sent box on your office desktop when you get to work!

Using IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol or IMAP is one of the two most prevalent Internet standard protocols for e-mail retrieval) to access your email instead of POP can vastly simplify your life, once you get it set up, that is!

We recommend using Google to host (for free!) your domain’s email. Even though you are using Google Mail, you still have your professional email address but can let Google do all those pesky admin jobs. But you don’t need to hand over the keys to your domain to get the advantages of IMAP.

Step #1: Get a Gmail Account

  • Create a Gmail account, if you don’t have one already. You can either choose to use this account for your email, or just use it as a ‘utility’ account to organize all your other accounts.

Step #2: Set it up to handle your first e-mail account.

  • Go to ‘Setting’ up at the top. Then click on the ‘Accounts’ tab.
  • Under the heading ‘Get mail from other accounts’ click ‘Add a mail account you own.’
  • Input the username and password, and maybe the POP settings (you can get these from the original account), although Google is pretty clever about figuring that stuff out on its own.

Step #3: Follow up with all your other email accounts.

  • Under ‘Send Mail As,’ click ‘Add another email address you own.’
  • Same routine outlined in Step 2, fill in the blanks.

Step #4: Set the “Reply As” Address:

  • Once you add the accounts, an option appears to ‘Reply from the same address the message was sent to.’
  • Do this with all your email accounts.

Now you can forget all your other accounts – your Gmail account will act a a ‘clearinghouse.’ It will check all your email accounts, and send out all replies from the appropriate account.

The final step is to modify your email clients (i.e. Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) to only check this Gmail account, and to use IMAP instead of POP. This will keep all your accounts synced so everywhere you go, and every device you use, all your email will be there right where you expect it to be.

Each email client has a different routine for setting up an email account, so you will have to use the ‘Help’ function to figure that out for each device. A quick Google search can turn up whatever settings you might need: ‘AT&T imap server’ or ‘uc berkeley imap server’ for instance. iPhones default to IMAP for GMail, so setting up one will be a snap.

Mark Assaf
Finance Manager & IT Guru

Mark has 25 years of progressive responsibilities in finance and technology. Prior to joining Pacific Business Centers (rebranded to Pacific Workplaces), Mark designed, built, and managed a chain of five restaurants in San Francisco and on the Peninsula, Since leaving small, he has provided expertise for a number of local businesses.