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How to set up Google Apps in 5 simple steps

A new, streamlined setup lets you configure Google Apps for a new domain in minutes. Andy Wolber shows you how.

Image: iStockphoto/Tatomm

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.

SEE: How Google stealthily built a "Getting Things Done" suite of apps

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.

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First, purchase your new domain at Google Domains.

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.

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Next, add Google Apps for Work.

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.

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Google adds security to your mail exchange records, and configures many other DNS records for you.

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:

  1. Security settings, which help secure your account
  2. 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.

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Login to the Google Apps Admin console to review settings.

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.

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If needed, import mail, contacts, and calendar with the Migration tool in the Admin console.

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").

Fast setup

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.

Also see

About

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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