Use an e-mail forwarding service

Learn how an email forwarding service can help you keep the same alias address, even if you change providers.

Image: iStockphoto / Suwaree Tangbovornpichet

E-mail has become a bit complicated these days. Many of us juggle multiple email accounts. Sometimes you can switch from one e-mail provider to another. In other cases you may have an email address through Google or Yahoo that is long or cumbersome. The solution for all these problems lies in an e-mail forwarding service.

Via such a service you create an alias e-mail address that you distribute to all your contacts. Each e-mail sent to that alias address is then forwarded to your actual e-mail address. By using this type of service, you can jump from one e-mail provider to another without having to change the alias address that you give to your contacts. And you can choose your own custom username with the forwarding service to make it as simple or memorable as you want.

SEE: Office 365: a guide for technical and business leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

You will find a large number of e-mail forwarding services there. Some prominent are DuoCircle, Forward Email, ForwardMX, ImprovMX and Pobox. Some are free, but most require some sort of annual or regular fee. Most work in the same way. For the steps here I will use Pobox as an example, because that is a service that I have used in the past.

Like other e-mail forwarding services, Pobox offers a number of different subscriptions, including Basic for $ 20 a year, Plus for $ 35 a year and Mailstore for $ 50 a year. Click on the button on the homepage to start a free trial version. Select the desired subscription type on the registration form and enter the required information, including user name, password and current e-mail address.

In the Your username field, enter the username that you want to use as an alias. Think of an alias username that would work best for your account, something short and easy to type but memorable and distinctive. You must also choose a username that is not yet in use – the service will indicate any conflicts. The domain name is the name of the service, such as pobox.com. After you have completed the form, click on the button Set up my account (Figure A).

Figure A

In the next screen, enter your contact details and then click the button to verify Account. Click on the button in the confirmation email to verify your account. Then log in to the site with the user name for the forwarding service, for example [email protected], and your password. Click on your account page to view and edit (Figure B).

Figure B

The page for your addresses shows your alias address, the address that you distribute to your contacts and use in your e-mail; and the delivery address, the actual address to which all e-mail will be forwarded from your alias address (Figure C).

Figure C

You can set more than one alias address, a handy option if you use multiple e-mail accounts and want each account to participate in the forwarding service. To do this, click on the button to add an address. On the Add an Address screen, type the alias username that you want to use, and then select the domain name. In this case you can choose the standard domain name or choose from other names. When you are ready, click on the button to add to this account (Figure D).

Figure D

Click the Edit button in the next screen. Then type the actual e-mail address to which e-mail from your new alias should be forwarded. Click the Add button (Figure E).

Figure E

Your next step should be to change the reply address in your e-mail application. Of course this process differs based on the e-mail software that you use. You generally want to look at your account settings. In Microsoft Outlook, for example, click File. Then click the Account Settings icon and then choose the Account Settings command. Double-click your account from there. In the POP Account Settings window, type your alias address as the reply address. Click Next and then Done. (Figure F).

Figure F

Finally, if you have a domain name, you can use your domain name as an alias address via Pobox. Return to the home screen and click the button to add domain. In the next screen, type your domain name and then click the button to check domain. The service displays ownership information. Click on the field below whether you have the domain name and select Yes. Click on the field below whether the domain is being used and select the correct answer. Then click the button to add domain (Figure G).

Figure G

The final step depends on how your domain name is used and whether you have a website with e-mail services. Pobox may be able to handle the entire process for you, or you may need to change the DNS settings and MX records for your domain and site. Pobox must provide the necessary information to assist you in this process.

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