If you have lots of e-mail accounts, you can often streamline things by routing them through one account. Even though Mail and Entourage can check numerous accounts, having just one can simplify checking mail and filing messages (particularly if you use IMAP). It also makes checking your e-mail while you’re on the road easier (because you log in to one account instead of several). And if you use an iPhone, having one e-mail account means less tapping—unlike Mail in OS X, the iPhone’s Mail program doesn’t consolidate your inboxes in a single view.
Of all the services you could use as a central e-mail repository, I prefer Google’s Gmail for several reasons. First, Gmail lets you configure any number of additional From addresses—so you can send mail from, say, your me.com address through Gmail, and the recipient will never know the difference. Second, with a Google Apps account (available in free and premium paid editions), you can use your own domain with Gmail—something MobileMe, for example, does not offer. Third, Gmail offers outstanding spam protection that’s far better than the filters built into Mail or Entourage. Gmail can also automatically check multiple POP accounts (MobileMe checks only one, and only manually). And finally, Gmail is free!
Setting it up
After signing up for a Gmail account and logging in on the Gmail Web site, click on the Settings link at the top of the page. Click on Forwarding and then on POP/IMAP. If you’re planning to access Gmail through Mail or Entourage, I recommend selecting Enable IMAP. Click on Save Changes and then click on Accounts. Under Send Mail As, click on the Add Another Email Address link, enter your name and one of your other e-mail addresses, and follow the instructions to verify the address. Repeat this with each of the addresses you want to be able to send from.
Next, redirect mail from your other accounts through Gmail. You have two options: If your other account offers automatic forwarding, turn it on, supplying your Gmail address as the destination. (For example, if you’re a MobileMe user, log in at www.me.com, go to the Mail page, and choose Preferences from the toolbar’s pop-up action menu. In the Other pane, select Forward My Email To Another Email Account, enter your Gmail address, and click on Save.)
If your other account doesn’t offer forwarding, instead have Gmail check it via POP. To do this, return to the Accounts tab where you set up your extra e-mail addresses. In the Get Mail From Other Accounts section, click on Add Another Mail Account and follow the prompts to enter your e-mail address, password, and other details.
Now, if you haven’t done so previously, configure Mail or Entourage to access your Gmail account using IMAP. (Google provides detailed instructions on its Web site; for Entourage, choose the “Other” option.)
Configuring your desktop client
Your final step is to configure the e-mail program on your computer to send mail via your Gmail account from more than one address. To do this in Mail, choose Mail -> Preferences, click on Accounts, and select your Gmail account. In the Email Address field, enter all the addresses you configured on the Gmail Web site, separated by commas. In Entourage, you must create a send-only account for each address. To do this, choose Tools -> Accounts and double-click one of the accounts you’ll no longer be checking separately. Under the Account Settings tab, remove everything from the Account ID, IMAP (or POP) Server, and Password fields, enter
smtp.gmail.com in the SMTP Server field, and click on OK. When an alert informs you that the account will be send-only, click on OK again. In either program, when you compose a new message, you can choose the From address you want to use from the From pop-up menu in the message header.
Once you’ve confirmed that you can send and receive e-mail from all your other accounts (and moved your saved messages into Gmail mailboxes), you can delete the other accounts from Mail or Entourage.
Senior Contributor Joe Kissell is the senior editor of TidBits and author of numerous e-books about OS X.