Send from any email address in Apple Mail

In Apple Mail it is possible to send an email message from a different email address than the one associated with the email account you are using to send/receive through.

What do I mean by this? Check out the following examples. For the solution, look further down.

Some examples of the problem

One example: I use email forwarding addresses a lot. This is an alias address that forwards to a real email address/account.

For instance, if I am providing an email address to a web site I don’t necessarily trust with my address (will they sell it to a spam list?) I will provide them with a unique alias  or forwarding address. I set up this unique address on my mail server as a forwarder. For example, sitename@mydomain.com forwards to realemail@mydomain.com. In this example realemail@mydomain.com is my real email address, and sitename@ is the name of the site I am giving an email address to, such as during an account registration process. This way if I ever receive spam to this forwarding address I will know exactly where the address was leaked from.

But here is the issue: What if I later need to send someone (the site owner, for instance) an email from sitename@mydomain.com? With Apple Mail there is no obvious way to do this.

Another example: I use a Gmail account to consolidate emails from a number of other accounts I have. Gmail checks these accounts for me. Gmail even lets me send out messages as though the message originates from one of these accounts. It works well. Gmail has great spam filters so I find it useful to run all my email accounts through Gmail.

Apple Mail has fairly good IMAP support and allows me to access my Gmail account over IMAP. This works well enough and this is how I access my Gmail account. But what happens when I receive a message that was sent to one of the accounts Gmail is checking for me? If I hit reply in Apple Mail, there is no way to send the reply FROM the account that originally received the message.

I recently had this problem with Paypal. I’d sent them a message from my Paypal account using the Email Us form on their web site. Their reply came in by email to a Gmail account that consolidates emails for me. I replied in Apple Mail but then got told by Paypal that they could not correspond with me because the message I sent them did not come from an address not associated with my Paypal account. I had to log into Gmail in order to reply because there was no obvious way to do it in Apple Mail.

The Solution

It turns out that Apple Mail has an easy way to resolve this problem, but it is not at all obvious and not explained anywhere in Mail Help (not as far as I could see).

Go to Preferences > Accounts. Looking at the “Account Information” section there is the field “Email Address:“. Normally you just have the email address of the relevant account stored here. But it turns out you can add as many other email addresses to this field as you like, in effect making a comma separated list of email addresses. Just put in here any other email addresses you may need to send from via this primary “master” account (the account being used to consolidate email addresses from forwarders and from Gmail, etc.).

Here is how it looks: (email@domain.com is the primary account address)

Example

Now when you reply to a message or write a new message you will be able to select any of the addresses you’ve listed here as the From address. Under the Subject field you should see a From field. Here is an example. You can see the dummy email addresses I put into the example above:

Example

If you do not see the From field, click the little options icon as shown in the following image (it has three lines and a downward triangle on it (I have circled it in red in the above image):

From Icon Example

Select “Customize” and you’ll see something like this:

Customize Example

Put a tick next to “From:” as shown in the above example.

Now when you send messages you can select which email address to send them from. That’s it.

This solution came from a tip shared by user “Mal” on MacRumors here: http://bit.ly/medx9z

GMAIL users – Important

If you are using a Gmail account to consolidate your emails from multiple accounts into one gmail account you’ll need to ensure a few settings are correct in your gmail account settings.

In Account Settings (on your gmail account) go to the “Accounts & Import” tab. Look for the “Send mail as” section. (Refer to the image below for an example).

Here you need to add the email addresses you want to send mail from (via Apple Mail). Once you have completed setting up each “send as” account everything should work fine.

Gmail Example

 

Having to select correct address when replying to mail?

Some readers have pointed out in the comments below that each time they reply to a message they have to select the correct From address because it is not selected automatically. I have not had this issue, and as I am now on OS X 10.7.x (LION) I can not test what the situation was/is on Snow Leopard. Using Mail 5.2 I find that the correct From address is selected automatically when I reply to an email (assuming the message was sent to xyz@mail.com, for example, and I have xyz@mail.com set up in the comma separated list of address as per the instructions laid out in this article).

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46 Comments

  1. Everything worked just as described until the end… when I sent a test email to another address, despite having selected the From field I wanted, it still showed up as having been sent from the primary email account from which it was sent. In other words, in the end, it didn’t work.

    • Thanks Gella for your comment. I’ve now run a test and yes, you are absolutely right, it does still send it with the main account email address. Darn. Well, I shall look into what can be done about that. I’ll post the solution here if I find it. Please post another comment if you find a solution. So close…

    • Did you set things up in your primary account? That is, if you’re sending everything through user@domain.com, you need to make sure your account for user@domain.com (wherever that may be) is configured to allow you to send mail from your other addresses. Perhaps you have already done this, but I thought I’d make the suggestion. Unfortunately, I don’t have my Mac laptop at the moment, so I can’t test this myself.

      • Thanks Chuck, that did the trick. I have a few gmail accounts, and I’d muddled up which ones were set up for which “send as” addresses. Sorted that out, and it’s working fine now.
        I appreciate your input.
        Cheers,
        Jonathan

        • I still have the same problem with the new Outlook. I have the exact same set up you described and evth works fine, i can select the other email address, but it would only send from the email address that is set as default at outlook. I couldnt figure out a solution yet…. it would be too much work to log in to outlook everytime and change the default settings before it works… any help??

          • Unfortunately I don’t have Outlook installed. I use Apple Mail. Otherwise I’d test a few things out for you. Please do a search for Outlook on the comments on this page. I see I posted a link for someone else looking for a solution to this on Outlook. Perhaps that link helps.

          • Thank you for the reply, i use apple mail as well. Just hotmail just changed to outlook last week and like i said i set everything up the way you explained it. However, i manually have to change the default email in hotmail/outlook to make it work it work in apple mail…. you know what to do about that?

    • Hi Gella. I’ve revolved this issue. Tell me, are you using Gmail to consolidate your email accounts? If that is the case please see the extra note I have added to the end of this post.

    • When I send an email via Mail on my Mac the recipient is receiving it from a different address (an other account I have) and their response is then sent to this address and not in Mail. I only access this other address in safari. I have checked all setting and account informations and everything looks fine, but continue to have this problem in Mac only.
      When sending from iPad or iPod everything is fine

      • Hi Verena, I am not sure I clearly understand the issue you’re facing. I would have to take a look at your set up to make any real suggestions. Good luck with figuring it out. Perhaps you have already?

    • Hi,

      I have read the whole instruction and post and have set up everything as explained, in fact I had it already before exactly like that however the problem is still the same.

      meaning even if you select an alias address as outgoing mail address this address will not show on the sent mail and also not when somebody receives this mail, it will always just show the primary mail address and this really irritates me.

      Is there still no solution for this?

      Regards,
      tom

  2. Hi Jonathan! This works great!

    I’m using Gmail to consolidate 2 accounts (personal and work). However, now when I’m using Mail in replying messages, it always seems to reply from the default (first one listed) email address.

    For example:

    In my account settings I have: personal@gmail.com, work@gmail.com

    When I get a message to my work email and I press reply, it automatically sends from my personal email. Same goes vice versa I have the account settings set to my work email first.

    Could you help me figure out how to automatically reply using the same email address it was sent to? While I know I could set it each time I reply, I made a mistake of forgetting it a few times. Gmail had a setting which did that.

    Thanks!!

    • Hi Diego. For some reason I only just saw your comment today. Did you manage to resolve this issue with your email account? I see you posted your question back in September so perhaps you’ve fixed it since then. Let me know.

      Thanks… Jonathan

      • Hi Jonathan, i have the same problem as diego. it sends from the account i want but i still have to choose the account every time and it gets really annoying. have you guys found a solution yet?

  3. Hi there, thanks for posting this solution. Just in case this question is not totally clarified above up by what has been said above:
    * I use gmail to host my emails, but send email from my own domain (which simply forwards to gmail. I generally only give out my own domain’s email address to people, so gmail is essentially masked.
    * I then use gmail’s Send Mail As feature so that emails by default come from my own domain.
    * To get this happening in Apple Mail, I simply listed my own domain email FIRST, followed by my Gmail address, in the comma separated list described above to make this my default sender address.

  4. I seem to have found a workaround. Allow me to explain.

    I use Mail to check my work email at home. For my various personal accounts (I have several) I use Postbox. Mail only has one account, which is my work account, but it knows more than that about me since it latches onto my info in Address Book. Because of this, it was sending replies to my personal account — the first one listed in Address Book.

    Rather than manually set the Reply-To Address field in _every_ message I compose, I reordered my email addresses as listed in Address Book. It’s annoying that you can’t drag-to-reorder, so you’ll have to add and remove them in order to get the work email on top.

    But now it works as normal. Solution, it seems, albeit a funky one.

  5. Hi,

    I have the same question as Diego. When I respond to an email, mail chooses my master email address even it the message was sent to an alias.

    • Hi Jeremy (and Anthony),
      I have since upgraded to Lion 10.7.x and Mail 5.2 handles the email address in replies perfectly (well, the way one might expect). Which version of Mail and OS X are you using?
      From what I recall, on my computer Mail on Snow Leopard also handled this the right way. So I am not sure why on your computer it is necessary to choose the correct From address each time you reply to a message.
      All the best,
      Jonathan

  6. When I was googling for a solotion to exactly this, but within outlook, I found this. Does someone maybe know if this also works within outlook?

    Thanks in advance,

    Florentijn

    • I think Outlook will have its own way of handling multiple addresses on the one account. I am not sure what it is.
      I assume you are referring to Outlook 2011 on Mac OS X. Is that correct?

  7. WOW amazing thanks! I had been thinking about consolidating all my accounts into GMAIL but didn’t want to do it because of the replies being sent out as my gmail address. I used your configuration and it works perfectly well, it automatically selects the correct email address to send the e-mail from!!! This just made my life a whole lot easier!!!

    • Thank you Alessandro. I appreciate receiving your positive and enthusiastic comment. You are most welcome. I am glad your email management (and life) will be easier for you now. That, after all, is what computers are meant to do — make our life easier. Sometimes I wonder about that!!

    • You’re most welcome David. Glad it helped. Judging by the “nz” in your email address, there’s actually some likelihood we could have been neighbours. Happy emailing…

  8. Hi Jonathan. Im using mail 5.3 and having this same issue about my mail not automatically replying from the address the mail was sent to. Any tips?

  9. Has anybody found a way of having a seperate signature for each of these “from” address’s? as per a usual list of accounts set up in Mail

  10. Thanks, that really helps. One question though – is it possible to have a different name associated with each email address i.e. the ‘Joe Bloggs’ part? I’ve tried a few variations, but no joy.

  11. Hello. I have a related question, but not the same. I have several email accounts in my Mac Mail (OSX 10.8.2). There are occasions when I start an email and I don’t want to use the default account. But, I sometimes “forget” to switch from one account to another which can be bad as I don’t want to use work email for personal or vice versa.

    In the old days, Outlook Express let you set a prompt to ask “which email account” to send from. I have created a work around but it is not great. Anyone have an idea or solution…

    • Good question.
      You could try setting the default account as a dud one. Namely an account that can’t send because it’s not a valid account. That way if you forget to select the account you want, the message will not send at all.
      Otherwise, I am thinking a plugin might have the answer. I don’t know of one with that feature though. Not that I have looked! So one might exist.

  12. I followed the directions exactly and was having issues on mountain lion. I could select the alias in the “from” field, but it would simply send from the main email address. I did find a solution though.

    when in preferences–>account–>account information–>email address make sure that the alias is listed first, and the default email is listed second. Once is made this change it worked perfectly!

    Thanks for the great info!

  13. Hi Jonathan! I have done what you proposed with an outside email address (not gmail) – it’s from a company I am doing some work for. They created an email address and are having it forwarded to my mac.com address. I am trying to set it up so I can reply with the company email address and did what you suggested (example@mac.com, example@company.org) in the preferences account location. It shows up nicely in my drop down ‘from’ box on the email but when I send it I get a message saying that the email cannot be sent from that ‘From address is not one of your addresses’. Any ideas on why this is happening or how to fix that?

    Thanks!
    k

    • Hi Katherine,
      I just ran another test on my end, and it works. So I am wondering what’s different about your set up.

      What generates the error message? Is that something Apple Mail pops up when you hit Send?

      Or is an email message being sent to you?
      If it’s the latter, I would suspect this is coming from mac.com mail servers (or whatever the primary account is, that you are trying to take other sender addresses to).

      You’ll need to take it up on there, as it sounds like they have something in place to prevent mail going through their SMTP servers with an invalid FROM address. I’ll need to know more about what you’re referring to before I can say much else though.
      Regards,
      Jonathan

      • Hi Jonathan!

        The error message I get is something generated by Apple Mail – not an email sent to me. It’s that message you get when an email won’t send and asks you to use a different server but part of this message is that it doesn’t recognize the from email as one of mine so it won’t send it. Does that help?

        Thanks!
        K

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