There are two good reasons for setting up your own email domain. First, you won’t have to change your email address when you change ISPs. Instead of having the email address email@example.com, your address can always be firstname.lastname@example.org. The second reason is that it’s good marketing: an address like email@example.com doesn’t differentiate you from all the other people who might share your name and your ISP. A personalised email address is more recognisable and memorable.
Best of all, it is really easy to set up.
1. Find a name
One of the problems with registering a domain name is that nearly all the good ones are taken, especially for those with the .com top-level domain (TLD). But other TLDs – .net, .org, .info, and so forth – may be available. Unless you have an uncommon name, you’ll probably have to settle for something other than .com.
Adding your personalised email account is no different than setting up any other account in Mail: provide your credentials, tell Mail about the mail servers, and you’re done
2. Register the name
Registering a domain simply means that a company has recorded that you own that domain and has added it to a database that maps domain names to numerical IP addresses via DNS (distributed name service).
Two kinds of companies will do that for you: domain-name registrars, whose core tasks are to provide domain names and to link those names to the actual IP addresses where they are hosted; and hosting companies, which offer domain names as part of an overall hosting program. In most cases, the easiest option is to use a hosting company. For a limited fee – as low as about £3 a month – you get a domain name, plus email accounts, web hosting, FTP access, and more.
3. Find a host
If you chose to register your domain name with a registrar, you’ll now need to find a hosting company.
All of them offer basic services, which generally include email accounts, web servers, and FTP access. Many also offer extras like MySQL databases. If you’re not sure which services you want, get the simplest package and upgrade later. Your ISP might offer a hosting service, which alleviates the hassle of shopping for one but may be more expensive. One of the best ways to find a host is to ask friends and colleagues which one they use.
If you chose to register your name with a hosting company that set up your domain name, you’ll simply need to log in to the company’s control panel and set up email accounts. (Each host operates differently, but this is generally a simple operation.) You can set up the first account, and then add others for family members; you might even want to create special email accounts to use on websites, forums, or other locations.
4. Configuring email
Once you’ve set up your personalised email address, adding it to your email program is easy. In Mail, choose File > Add Account, and follow the instructions. Your hosting company’s control panel will provide the details you need to enter, and in some cases will even offer walkthroughs with screenshots to help you. You may not want to go this route, however; you may want to access your email only on the web. In this case, again, your host will have the necessary information for you to do that on its website, and you’ll be able to log in to the appropriate page from anywhere. Once this is done, you can start sending and receiving email with your new address.
If you use Gmail, you can have it fetch messages from firstname.lastname@example.org, too, in addition to handling the mail sent to your standard Gmail address. To do so, go to your Gmail account, click on the gear icon at the top right of the window, and choose Settings. Click on the Accounts And Import tab, and look for Check Mail Using POP3. Click Add POP3 Email Account and enter the account information. This method can be useful if you find Gmail’s web interface better than that of your host. You can even have your email client get mail from Gmail, thereby routing your new email account into your existing Gmail account, if you have one.
Google can manage your domain entirely; useful if you want to set up accounts for your family or small business. If you set up a Google Apps account, the search giant will take care of registering and hosting your domain. It then provides you with email, calendaring, Google Docs, and more. If you already have a domain name, Google can still host it, but it’ll require a bit more manual setup; this is not a task for novices.