I’m going to be experimenting with some shorter posts that provide answers to small day-to-day problems in my role as a developer, I’d love your feedback if you find them valuable.

The Problem

You love tech, so naturally you collect vanity domains. You’re bootstrapping a product, or you have a short lived project but want a professional looking email to go with your domain name.

You only want a vanity email like heart@captain.planet but don’t need all the bells and whistles (and cost) of a mailbox hosting solution or a fully featured service like GSuite.

The Solution

What you’re probably looking for is email forwarding. This is a little known feature provided when you purchase a domain through Google.

Their service isn’t perfect, such as their lack of support for some major TLD’s (I’m looking at you .com.au). However, it has a simple and intuitive interface, you can alias up to 100 custom email addresses, or wildcard an email address to any number of existing Gmail accounts. Most importantly this feature is free, which means you won’t have to also consider the cost of GSuite or mailbox hosting on top of the cost of your domain.

If you’re already using Google, or you haven’t yet picked a provider this is a real no-brainer for me purely for this feature. To set up an email forward, once the domain is purchased select the Email tab in the left hand navigation for your domain. Under email forwarding click on Add email alias. Fill out your desired vanity email, it might look something like this:

From there follow the rest of the prompts to complete the alias, it really is that simple! I’d recommend doing the initial set up on a PC to make the process go a little faster.

Warning: If you already manage your domain elsewhere, or worse decide to start managing it elsewhere after you buy the domain. Take extra special note to set up the corresponding MX records as outlined in the documentation…Trust me.

I’m a fan of this solution because it allows you to sign up for services directly with the existing Gmail account. This provides you with some security that you will still be able to access said services if your custom domain expires. However, it allows you to then pass your vanity email to clients, friends or guests of your domain while it is active for a more professional look and feel.

Bonus Points: If you log into the existing Gmail account through the Gmail App on Android it will automatically sync up your preferences. So if you set the alias as the default send/receive address you can send and receive email from your vanity domain directly from your phone as well.