Faking From

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Like many of us, reader Steve Joyce wants to occasionally pretend to be someone else. I’ll allow him to explain:

I do freelance work and would like to occasionally send out emails under a client’s company/email identity, which is then forwarded to my actual email address. Is there an easy way to switch my “from” address in the OSX Mail application without affecting my core email settings?

My matra lately seems to be “this is easier in other email clients, but it can be done in Mail with some minor inconvenience.” Such is the case here. You can fake a From address in Mail by simply choosing Preferences from Mail’s Mail menu, selecting Accounts in the resulting window, choosing the account you want to send the mail from, and entering the assumed address after your real address—separating the two with a comma. The Email Address field in the Accounts window might read something like this:

Email Address: stevejoyce@whatever.org, bigjake@currentclient.net

When you want to send a message from this identity, simply choose it from a new mail message’s Account pop-up menu. The message will contain this address in the From field even though you sent it via a completely different account.

So where’s the inconvenience? You’ll notice that when you follow these steps, the information in an account’s Full Name field shows up in the From field as well. Using our previous example, when you send a message under the guise of Big Jake, the From field would read Steve Joyce bigjake@currentclient.net. This is going to confuse and irritate a lot of Big Jake’s well-muscled associates.

In other email clients you can create new accounts that are identical to others except for the faked From information and the sender’s name. Mail doesn’t allow you to do that—try it and it will tell you that such and such a server is already being used by another account.

This means that when you want to fully fake From you have to open the account from which the fake is sent and change the text in the Full Name field.

Oh, and for those of you thinking “Wow, what a great way to send inappropriate email anonymously!” a quick peek at a message’s headers will reveal the true source of the message.

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