Thursday, August 25, 2005

GMail: Send Mail As

GMail has finally added a "Send mail as" feature to GMail. This allows you to send mail from GMail with a different address in the "From" of the e-mail.

From the web client you can make the choice either at compose time (with a drop down menu) or make a default choice of something other than your gmail account.

Now, in the past if you were using Google's SMTP server to send mail, regardless of what your e-mail client would do, it would stamp a gmail address on your e-mail. However, it now appears like Google's SMTP server also allows you to send mail from any e-mail address.

This is a significant addition because Google uses an authentication-based secure SMTP server that you can use from any location. (that is, from any coffee shop worldwide) This means that if you're sitting at your local coffee shop, you don't have to use webmail in order to send mail. You can use GMail's SMTP server to send mail through your favorite e-mail client. GMail will even keep an on-line archive of all the mail you've sent, but it will not toy with the From address; that will be completely up to your mail client.

I think that's an exciting change. Eventually Google will handle the entire planet's outgoing SMTP traffic. :)

(note that this also means you can start forwarding all of your e-mail to Google and responding from Google from a different address; in other words, Google can silently handle all of your e-mail without anyone realizing it)


grrrbear said...

Doesn't this sort of go against the movement to prohibit people from using fake email addresses? Of am I just revealing my complete lack of knowledge of the minutae of how email works by asking this question?

Theo said...

If you're logged into Google's webmail, you are not allowed to use any e-mail address to "Send mail as." When you add an address to your list of accounts, it sends you a verification e-mail. So you cannot send a message from a "fake" address (or even a real address that isn't your own) through Gmail's webmail.

However, if you use Gmail's SMTP server, it appears like you can send from addresses even though they're not in your list of accounts. This means that you can fake e-mails just like you can with most other SMTP servers.

I don't really think this is a problem though. Again, this is no different than really all other e-mail servers (especially the non-authentication ones that everyone is used to). Additionally, because you're logged into gmail, if you do anything too naughty, it's pretty easy for you to get caught.

You can only get a GMail address if someone invites you (i.e., you already have an e-mail address) or you have a cell phone (so GMail can send you a text message with an authentication code). I think the hope is that if they keep it this way, it will be too hard to create a slew of e-mail addresses to send spam from.

I hope in the future that you'll only be able to send through GMail's SMTP via accounts listed in your GMail settings; however, for right now I hardly think it'll be a problem.

raull said...

Hello! I tried to send mail from my fake email address using the gmail smtp server. I can do it from the gmail web page, but i can do it from my email client software (Thunderbird). How can I do it?


Theo said...

To send mail from a different address in Thunderbird, you'll have to go to Tools->Accounts. You can either (A) add your new e-mail account or (B) add an "identity" to your first e-mail account. I recommend that you do "B" (i.e., add an identity).

You will then have to make sure that Google is your SMTP (i.e., outgoing mail) server. This will make sure your outgoing mail gets saved at Google.

As long as the address that you're sending FROM is listed in Google as one of your alternate addresses, mail from Thunderbird will go out with the address you choose in Thunderbird.

If you're having trouble, see the Thunderbird help on "Identities" and/or "Accounts."

Deejay Dan said...

Thank you Theo! I never realized the identities feature of Thunderbird and have been racking my brains trying to figure out how to use Gmail's send mail as through Thunderbird