Gmail to Google Apps Mail = Frustration

What a pain in the arse this is turning out to be. I setup a Gmail account years ago, and when I did it, I for whatever reason didn’t sign up as Benpark@gmail.com. Maybe it wasn’t available. I don’t remember. But I picked something stupid, based on one of my radio sketch characters at the time.

I’ve got a few domain names including ben-park.co.uk and I use one of these for my email. I use the option to send mail from different domains, in Gmail. When you use ANY other provider to do this, your outgoing mail just shows as coming from your personal domain, and nobody has any idea whether you’re using BT, or whoever to send your mail (unless they check the header content).

Problem is with Gmail, when you do this, and send it to anyone who uses Outlook (so – a huge number of people), the email they get, doesn’t say “From: Ben Park <professionalman@professionaldomain.com”. No.

It says: “From sillyoriginalemailadress@gmail.com, sent on behalf of Ben Park [professionalman@professionaldomain.com]”.

Consequently, it means every time I need to use my email for something where it would be good for me to look professional, the first impression people get is my stupid Gmail address.

Change it!

So what’s the solution? Just change my Gmail address right? Well you can’t. Once you’ve set it, you’re stuck with it. I can add in silly extra dots and change it from stupidaddress@gmail.com to stu.p.i.dad.dress@gmail.com, but that’s it. Great.

Fix it!

Maybe there’s a way I can stop Gmail from showing the stupid address? You can’t do that either. Despite the fact that I’ve verified I own the domain, Gmail won’t let me send, without waving my dick of a Gmail address in the recipient’s face.

Leave it!

Now, Google don’t only do Gmail. No. They do an alternative product called Google Apps Mail. This is for business users, but up to 10 users is free. Because you need a domain to sign up, it won’t ever mention Gmail. Essentially, it’s like Gmail never existed.

There’s a bit of a reconfiguration issue, but this shouldn’t be too difficult. How hard can it be to move from one Google product to another?

Turns out, it’s fucking complicated.

I started it last night, verified my domain, updated my MX records. I can export contacts and calendars from one, and into the other. But how do you get your mail across?

There’s a (Windows-only) downloadable tool, that does work with Gmail, but DOESN’T work with the free version of Google Apps. If I was paying, apparently it would work. This seems ridiculous to me. By making it so difficult to trial the free business version, I’m surprised they’re not putting off people trying the pro (non-free) business version. Surely you want to make it as easy as possible to entice people in?

There’s something called a mail fetcher – I can download the inbox of one, and import it into the other. But what about all the labels (Gmail’s better version of folders)? How do I get them across? I don’t want 10,000 emails in one folder, ffs.

I figured I could connect to both accounts via IMAP, in a mail client like Thunderbird and just copy all folders from one to the other. This is a stupid way to do it, is very slow, and appears to have a much higher chance of a massive cock-up occurring. I left it running last night with thousands of emails to do. Came in this morning to find it had stopped after about 20. Useless thing.

I tried the same in Apple Mail, and when I asked it to do 10 folders/labels, it just froze up on me. So now I’m going through, copying folders one by one. I figure I might have this done in the next couple of days. Even Yahoo Mail (which I don’t think is very good) will let you send as another address, without going through all this bullshit.

I just hope it doesn’t get to the end, and then I wind up with all my emails saying “From: a cheapskate google user on behalf of [benpark@notsoprofessionallookingdomain.com]”

Update 24/02/12 – 18:37

I’ve just exported and reimported all my Google Docs, and what have I found out only now? That only paid users of Google Apps can share Google Docs with people outside the ‘company’. This means I can no longer collaborate on sketch writing, unless I (and possibly them too) pays £3.30 a month. Balls. When you add that to the lack of any email migration options, what Google have said with their free apps providing, is that if you want to be cheap, expect to be dicked about.

Update 18:59

I don’t believe it. I’ve just discovered that my hosting company provide outgoing SMTP server capability. I could have just changed the smtp server to theirs on Google/my phone, and used that. I wouldn’t have had the “on behalf of”, and it would all still have worked. I’m convinced I investigated that route before and they didn’t. Double balls.

Update: 20:03

Abort! Abort!

I’ve decided that as I’ve still got Google Docs to rejig (half of them came through not in folders, even though they were to start with), calendar entries to export/import, feedburner, adwords, and loads of other stuff to move and I’ve had enough already, I’m going to stop, change the MX records back as they were, and go back to how it was before. As I copied most of the mail to start with, I’ve only got to move back a few folders where I stupidly clicked “move” the first time, and change a few settings.

I *think* I can use the option from my hosting company’s SMTP server to send mail through them and not get this stupid ‘on behalf of’ mess.

Should be done before the night is over. Lesson learned. I thought I’d been sticking with its awkward ways for ages because I was lazy. Actually, it was because it’s a real complicated mess to change (which also costs additional money – even £3 a month that Google want I just can’t afford) and I’ve got loads of better things I should have been doing already. Goodbye Google Apps (free), hello again Google (normal..whatever..).

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