In January 2016, I helped a colleague purchase a domain, add Google Apps, and import data. I've completed all of these tasks many times before (I previously described the Google Apps setup process in July 2014), but this time was a little different.
Over the past 18 months, Google revised the Google Apps setup sequence, simplified settings, and streamlined import options. A new menu option added here. A smarter default setting configured there. A more coherent design everywhere. Like a steady snowfall, the changes accumulated. As a result, we completed the Google Apps setup in minutes.
Here's how to get Google Apps for your new domain in 5 steps.
1. Buy a domain name
Purchase your domain from Google Domains: http://google.com/domains. When you do, Google handles many domain name configuration settings for you, as you'll see in the next step. Registration of most .com domains costs $12 a year.
2. Add Google Apps
Next, select the envelope icon displayed to the right of the domain you purchased, then add a "Custom email with Google Apps for Work." A Google Apps for Work account costs $5 per account per year.
When you add a Google Apps account at Google Domains, you don't need to learn the details of DNS. Previously, you had to configure mail exchange (MX) records to point to Google's servers, and add mail security records that help reduce spam separately (e.g. SPF and DKIM records). You also had to configure third-level domains to point to various Google apps (.e.g. drive.yourdomain.com, mail.yourdomain.com, calendar.yourdomain.com, etc.).
Google Domains now configures all of the above DNS records for you. To adjust the settings, select the configure DNS option to the right of your purchase domain, and then review the checked items listed under "Synthetic records." Select—or deselect—items as desired.
3. Recommended: Review settings
At this point, you're ready to use Google Apps with your domain.
However, I recommend you review several Google Apps administrative settings first. Login with your account at http://admin.google.com. I suggest you focus on two groups of settings:
- Security settings, which help secure your account
- Google Apps settings (Apps > Google Apps), which control default sharing options, among other things
Also, see the Google Apps quick start guides (https://apps.google.com/setup/apps/), which walk you through setup and deployment options for Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Drive, and more.
4. Optional: Import data
If you need to import data, the Migration service in the Admin console streamlines the process. The service moves email, contacts, and calendar from Microsoft Exchange servers into Google Apps. It also imports email from providers that support IMAP services, such as Gmail, GoDaddy, and other providers.
5. Connect devices
Finally, login with your Google Apps account on your devices. On devices with the full version of Chrome available (Mac, PC, or Chromebooks), sign in to Chrome with your Google Apps account. On Android devices, add your Google Apps account to each of your devices.
If you use Apple mobile devices, you have a few options. You may use Google Sync to access your mail, contacts, and calendars with Apple's applications. Or, you might individually install Google's Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, and Hangouts apps. A more advanced setup allows you to keep work and personal data separate on iOS devices—but also requires a bit more configuration (see my earlier "How to manage iOS devices with Google Apps").
If you're really in a rush, you can just do the first two steps, then connect your devices. In January 2016, I completed the setup for a small office of two people—while I explained all the options—in less than two hours. A few minutes of time and $5 per account per month are all it takes to start sending email from your own domain with Google Apps.
- Pro tip: Upgrade from Gmail.com to Google Apps (TechRepublic)
- Want a new domain with Google Apps? Choose Google Domains (TechRepublic)
- Send better email: Configure SPF and DKIM for Google Apps (TechRepublic)
- One company's Google Apps email migration: Part 2 (TechRepublic)
- Google Apps treats government workers with unlimited cloud storage (ZDNet)
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.