Solved: Gmail, iPad, iPhone, and multiple from addresses

For a long time I’ve forwarded many email addresses to a single Gmail account, a setup I call Inbox Heaven. It’s great because you get a unified inbox to collect mail from multiple email addresses that you can check on any device.

One caveat has been that Mail on the iPhone and iPad won’t let you send email from multiple addresses living under one Gmail account. This means, for example, that even though you can receive messages from secondary accounts like superman@krypton.com, you can only reply from your main address of clarkkent@gmail.com.

After much Googling, dribbling, and head bangering, I’ve managed to get around this in a way that works great on the iPad and iPhone. I thought I’d combine the various hints and tips I’ve discovered to put them in one place, then add some screenshots to make it more useful to others who’ve been driven nuts by the same issue.

The steps assume you’re setting up Gmail for the first time, so if you’ve already got a Gmail account on your mobile device, it’s best to disable it or delete it altogether to avoid confusion. You’ll also need to check that IMAP is enabled in your Gmail account by logging into Gmail in your Web browser and following Google’s IMAP instructions, and you need to be running iOS 3 or higher on all of your devices. (If you’ve just upgraded to iOS 6 from iOS 5 and you find that your email’s now broken, deleting the email account and recreating it seems to fix things.)

The short version is that you just list your email addresses separated by a comma in the Address field of the mail settings on your iPhone/iPad. Sounds simple, but it turns out to be important that you follow certain steps in order, and that you set your Gmail address up as an IMAP account, not a Gmail account. If you’re already utterly confused, read on as I attempt to deconfuddle you:

iPhone and iPod Touch instructions (iPad steps lower down)

  1. Open the Settings app: settings
  2. Tap ‘Mail, Contacts, Calendars’: mail-contacts-calendars
  3. Tap ‘Add Account…’: add-account
  4. Tap ‘Other’ (NOT Gmail or Google Mail): Other
  5. Tap ‘Add Mail Account’: Add Mail Account
  6. Enter your full name in the Name field (this is what people will see in the “From” field when you send email; leave it blank if you want your email address for each account to appear in the recipient’s “From” field). Then enter your Gmail address in the Address field, your password in the Password field, and the word ‘Gmail’ in the Description. Then tap Save.
  7. You should be presented with the ‘New Account’ screen: IMAP
  8. Scroll down to ‘Incoming Mail Server’, and use ‘imap.gmail.com’ for the Host Name, your full Gmail address for the User Name, and your Gmail password for the Password.
  9. Under ‘Outgoing Mail Server’, use ‘smtp.gmail.com’ for the Host Name, your full Gmail address for the User Name, and your Gmail password for the Password.
  10. Tap ‘Save’. (It’s really important that you save here before you start editing the Address field as described below, otherwise you’ll get an error message.)
  11. If you entered your details correctly you’ll be returned to the Accounts screen: Accounts
  12. We’re going to modify the account you’ve just created in a minute. First, though, we need to copy a comma into the clipboard. Sounds weird, but bear with me.
  13. Press the Home button, then swipe right to get to the search screen. Type a single comma in the search field, double tap the search field itself, tap ‘Select All’, and then tap ‘Copy’ so that you copy the comma to the iPhone’s clipboard: comma
  14. Open the Settings app again, then tap ‘Mail, Contacts, Calendars’. mail-contacts-calendars
  15. Tap the Gmail account you created in the previous steps: Gmail
  16. Tap the ‘Address’ field once to place the cursor at the end of your Gmail address.
  17. Double tap the same Address field to bring up the Select/Paste options: paste-comma
  18. Then, being sure that the cursor is at the end of the line and that no part of your address is selected, tap Paste to add a comma to the field. (We do this because there’s no way to access the comma from the keyboard once the cursor’s in the Address field.)
  19. Now, start typing one of your secondary email addresses that you’d like to be able to send email from.
  20. Repeat steps 18 and 19 for as many email addresses as you like. You should end up with a list of email addresses, separated by commas. The field should end with a ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ or some other domain, not with a comma.
  21. When you’re done, tap your iPhone’s Home button to get back to your Springboard. (The Settings app saves the changes you’ve just made automatically.)
  22. To check it’s worked, open Mail, browse to your Gmail account, and create a new message: new-mail
  23. Tap the “Cc/Bcc, From:” field to open it up, then tap the “From:” field. You should see a scroll wheel containing all of the email addresses you just entered. If not, don’t panic — just shut down your phone by pressing and holding the power button, and it should work the next time you power up and use Mail. from

iPad instructions

It’s even easier on the iPad. No faffing around with commas, and no need to create the account first and go back and edit it. Instead, it works like this:

  1. Open the Settings app: settings
  2. Tap ‘Mail, Contacts, Calendars’: mail-contacts-calendars
  3. Tap ‘Add Account…’: add-account
  4. Tap ‘Other’ (NOT Gmail or Google Mail): Other
  5. Tap ‘Add Mail Account’: add-mail-account
  6. Enter your full name in the Name field (this is what people will see in the “From” field when you send email; leave it blank if you want your email address for each account to appear in the recipient’s “From” field). Then enter your Gmail address in the Address field, your password in the Password field, and the word ‘Gmail’ in the Description. Then tap Save. new-account
  7. You should be presented with the ‘Enter Your Account Information’ screen.
  8. Scroll down to ‘Incoming Mail Server’, and use ‘imap.gmail.com’ for the Host Name, your full Gmail address for the User Name, and your Gmail password for the Password. account-info
  9. Under ‘Outgoing Mail Server’, use ‘smtp.gmail.com’ for the Host Name, your full Gmail address for the User Name, and your Gmail password for the Password.
  10. Tap the ‘Address’ field once to place the cursor at the end of your Gmail address: address
  11. Now, start typing one of your secondary email addresses that you’d like to be able to send email from, each separated by a comma. To type a comma on the iPad when you’re in an email field like this, first tap the ‘.?123’ key followed by the ‘#+=’ key. The comma will appear in the top right of the keyboard, to the left of the backspace key.
  12. Repeat iPad steps 10 and 11 for as many email addresses as you like. You should end up with a list of email addresses, separated by commas. The field should end with a ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ or some other domain, not with a comma.
  13. Tap ‘Save’.
  14. Tap your iPad’s Home button to get back to your Springboard.
  15. To check it’s worked, open Mail, browse to your Gmail account, and create a new message.
  16. Tap the “Cc/Bcc, From:” field to open it up, then tap the “From:” field. You should see a picker overlay containing all of the email addresses you just entered. If not, don’t panic — just power down your iPad by pressing and holding the power button, and it should be there when you next power up and use Mail. from-addresses

Final notes

Note that recipients will still be able to see your original Gmail address when you send from your secondary addresses by looking at their email header information (just like Gmail in your web browser). This shouldn’t be a concern for most, but if it is, you need to set up completely separate mailboxes instead of forwarding all of your addresses to one account.

The order that you type your addresses will be the order that they appear in the popover. Your Gmail account address does not have to be first.

Also note that, in step 13 of the iPhone instructions above, I suggest using the Search field to copy and paste a comma. You can actually use any field that brings up a full keyboard, including those in the Settings app itself. I just felt it was slightly clearer this way.

Finally, I prefer not to answer email about Gmail settings and configuration, if only because it’s nice to pretend that I’ve got more important things to do. If you need help with this stuff, try the Apple discussion board or Gmail support forums. Thanks.

Date 20 Apr 2010 Notes 140 notes Permalink Permalink Tags gmail