How to Use Multiple Email Addresses Using One Google Apps Account


"I pay $0.00 a month for Google Apps."

Google Apps for Free (Legacy)

In 2007, Google was offering free hosted services (applications) for businesses, schools, and other organizations with a domain. Luckily, I was able to see the benefits of this service, signed up, and also convinced multiple offices to sign up with 10 Google Apps accounts each.
There are some differences among the Google Apps Free, Work, and Unlimited versions.

Unfortunately with the free edition, you only get 15GB of storage per user, it is less stable (less than 99.9% uptime, but very close), no Groups for Business support, and you are unable to get a signed Business Associate Agreement(BAA) for HIPAA. The inability to obtain a BAA can be a big security concern, but as long as you set strict rules to keep ePHI away from the Google Apps Free environment (Gmail, Drive, Calendar, etc…) then it can work really well for a small practice.


Because I wanted to save each of these offices $600/year in Google Apps user fees ($5 a month, 10 users), I needed to come up with creative solutions to keep the user accounts FREE. I implemented a few strategies such as, reusing/renaming former employee accounts when they leave the office (in order to maintain the same amount of accounts) and even requiring some departments to share an email account.



Collaborative Inbox

Some of these offices grew and I found them needing more than just a few shared emails within the 10 free email accounts. Luckily, around the same time this happened, this article came out: Rethinking your company’s communication: 6 reasons your team should use a shared inbox.

I loved the idea of transparency, accountability, and the simplicity of a single email address to give to everyone outside of the practice for many on the inside to manage.


If you subscribe to Google Apps for Work for EVERY user, then you already have the ability to use the Google Groups Collaborative Inbox feature.  Here’s a short clip:


But what about those who do have Google Apps for Work for every user? What about those who are still grandfathered in Google Apps Free?


I found an out-of-the-box solution utilizing some Google Apps’ free features: Aliases (Google Apps), Multiple Accounts (Gmail), and Gmail filters.


Strategy

The general concept is to create multiple aliases that will send to just one Google Apps account. You then create filters that will send emails addressed to these aliases to a folder using Gmail’s labels.  Finally, you must change some settings in Gmail to be able to send out emails using the multiple email address.  This creates a perfect environment to use up to 30 aliases under one Google Apps account!
This is flows both ways, to and from the Google Apps inbox.


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Here’s How to Do It:
  1. Setup Alias(es) in Google Apps
    1. Navigate to your Google Apps account
    2. Login using Google Apps Admin
    3. Click on Users, click on the main user
    4. Click on Account
    5. In aliases section, click on Add an alias
    6. Type in your desired alias and click on Save on the bottom right hand corner.  repeat for any other aliases you want. Repeat the last two steps for each alias.
  2. Setup Filters in Gmail
    1. In Gmail, click the down arrow on the search bar
    2. Type in your alias email address in the To section and click on Create filter with this search
    3. Click on Skip the Inbox (Archive it) if you want the email to go directly in the Alias’ folder
    4. Click on Choose label to create a Label (Folder) and type in the Alias’ inbox name. Click Create
    5. Repeat for EACH alias
  3. Setup Gmail to send email from the multiple Accounts/Aliases
    1. Now go into gmail and do the following: https://support.google.com/a/answer/1710338?hl=en
    2. Please read the difference between the two options and choose accordingly:
Treat as an alias setting checked
Treat as an alias setting unchecked
    1. Personally, I uncheck Treat as Alias and also check this option:
    2. You should see the multiple emails aliases that you are able to send from
    3. Please choose the email you would like to designate as the default email address to send out from by clicking on make default next to the appropriate email
    4. When you send out an email or reply to a message, you will be give the option to send an email from a specific alias.  Remember to select the appropriately addressed From email account when sending out emails.


Considerations
There are a few things to keep in mind when using this inbox strategy:
  • Keep shared email logins within the office.  According to Google, if “multiple users frequently access... from various locations, you may reach a Gmail threshold and your account will be temporarily locked down.” One way you can accomplish this is by using a password management solution like LastPass, to restrict users from knowing your exact Google Apps password and logging in from another location.
  • The strategy above can effectively work using one Google Apps account, but consider having TWO Google Apps accounts. Creating an Admin account separate from the shared employee Google Apps account will allow you to maintain strict roles and privileges.  Here is a suggestion:


Summary
Many people consider this technique as being frugal, but I like to think of it as being cost-effective. Most email communications in your private practice will not require the urgent replies or constant correspondence that many big corporations do. Also, if you have a high turnover, it can get pretty tedious to constantly add and remove users from Google Apps. If you have interns, part-time employees, or fill-in doctors, it might be worth it to just create an alias for them, instead of paying that extra $5/month for each of their Google Apps accounts.

Now that you know how to do it, save your money and just use one Google Apps account!

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