Choosing an email provider for group email

Choosing an email provider for group email

Author: L.S.Lowe. File: mailservice. This update: 20121013. Part of Guide to the Local System.

You can choose where your email related to the group is sent to. You have several choices:

  • a group server, where an incoming email folder is available in a locally mounted directory. You need to be logged on to your desktop, or via ssh to our externally-accessible hosts like or to view it, using (say) pine or Thunderbird.

  • a university email server, like, which used to be called, where it can be accessed using a Web browser or using POP3 or IMAP protocol, from anywhere without logging on to a Birmingham HEP machine. All new students and staff are given a university email account when they register and get their staff number or student number. Currently this is on a MS Exchange server.

  • an external internet mail provider, like or or, where it may be available via a Web browser and/or POP3 or IMAP protocols.

  • an experimental centre mail provider, like CERN, where you have an account on that system.

Your choice should be based on convenience of access from all your likely locations, how much message space is allowed, and other similar considerations.

Your choice does not affect how you will be addressed locally. For example, you will still have an address,, and also (for staff). These are simply aliases which can re-direct email to your chosen server.

When joining the group, or if you change your chosen server, you may need to let me (LSL) know so that I can set up the local definition for to direct email to the right place. Or you can do it: for example*:

         mailrule forward
         mailrule forward

Likewise you may need to configure your bham addresses (like or using the Mailhub Mailname Redirection service so that mail to and go to your chosen place, or at least to a place which will forward it to the chosen place. If you have difficulty with the above, use the Information Services Helpdesk (47171, in the Main Library) to redirect it for you.

If your preferred public email alias is new or has changed, you should ensure that the School Who's Who list (for staff) is updated with the new public alias (see the contact name at the bottom of your Who's Who page). However, it's unusual to need to update that, because usually people are known by one well-known email address and that doesn't change, even if the place to where the email is ultimately directed changes. For example, most staff use the format for their Who's Who entry, and most of our students use for theirs.

One caveat: some members of the university admin staff may send you email after looking you up in the MS Exchange search facility. This is likely to find and not; the first is not controlled by the Mailname Redirection service. So you should check your MS Exchange account occasionally. Or you can ask L.S.Lowe to request conversion of your MS Exchange account so that it lists your preferred location.

For information on how to fetch mail from a university email inbox, via POP3 or IMAP for example, see the helpdesk email pages and click on Set-up email programs in the left-hand side-bar, or for a pine client, see our local Pine Hints page.

(*) Note: for mailrule forward, if you want to keep a local copy of local emails too, precede your remote account with a + sign. This is not really recommended though, because you have twice the work to do to keep emails from accumulating excessively.

Using Yahoo with multiple From addresses

One thing you might want to configure when using a mail account from Yahoo or Google is to allow you to set the From address of your email so that it appears to come from within the University: eg you might want to set as your From email address for university work. However, you probably don't want to use that socially or for your financial dealings. Note that this is different from setting a Reply-to address, which while sometimes useful, still shows your original From address.

In Yahoo Mail, you can set up a number of different Accounts, and each Account can have a different From address. Then, when you Compose an email, you can select the From address from a drop-down list. To set up a different Account, click on the cog-wheel icon (top right), or in the old-style page click Options (near top left), and choose Mail Options, and then on the left choose Mail Accounts. Then click on Add, and fill in Account Name (just descriptive for yourself), your chosen From Name, and your From address. You do not need to click on Change reply-to address. Also you don't need to fill in Server, if you don't want to actually pull-in email from a server into your Yahoo email inbox. When you've finished, click Save Changes. When you set up a new account like this, Yahoo needs to be sure that the email address belongs to you, and that you're not stealing someone else's identity. So it will send an email to the specified From address, with a web link so you can confirm that you want this done. For me on one occasion that email did not arrive first time; if that happens to you, just re-visit the Accounts information, observe that unconfirmed accounts are indicated with a warning triangle, click on it, and click on Verify this account, to send the verification email. You can then start sending emails with the alternative From address.

If you make a mistake with a recipient on an email sent with an alternative email address, then the failure notice goes to the alternative account. (If you're forwarding to Yahoo, then the failure notice will also be forwarded).

Yahoo Mail also allows you to have multiple alternative Yahoo email addresses. For this, choose Disposable Addresses on the left. The first time, you will need to set up an alternative basename different from your normal email address. You can then set up additional alternative Yahoo email addresses and they will be of the form You can add and delete these Disposable Email addresses at will. But you could keep them for many years: there's no obligation to dispose of them! For example, I use different variants for my banks, and when booking journeys, and a general temporary one which I will discard around once a year. Notice that Disposable Email Addresses differ from alternative Accounts in that the email sent to them is received directly by Yahoo, as they are

Using Gmail with multiple From addresses

With Gmail, using multiple From addresses is very similar, but setting up is different. Click on your name top right, and choose Account settings. Then click on Dashboard: View data stored with this account. Scroll down to Gmail and click on Manage all Gmail settings. Click on the Accounts and Import tab. Under Send mail as, click on Send mail from another address, and fill in the required name and email address, such as your uni address Click Next Step, and choose Send through Gmail. Click Next Step, and click Send Verification. Your chosen email account will receive an email with a link for you to confirm to Google that this email account belongs to you.

Gmail also allows multiple alternative gmail addresses as "plussed" names, such as This works automatically anyway with any tag (as it does on some other mail servers including but then you can configure your Filters such that mail tagged in this way is handled differently, or discarded if you no longer want the tag to work. However, it's pretty obvious to any experienced mail user or spammer that the address without the +tag will also work. This is unlike the Yahoo Disposable Email Addresses where the basename alone is deliberately not a valid recipient.

If you are a Gmail user and have corrections or suggestions for this section, let me know!

Using Live Hotmail with multiple From addresses

This is also now available in Hotmail. Click Options top right, then More Options, then under Managing your account, click Sending/receiving email from other accounts. At the bottom, click on Add another account to send mail from. Add the email address, eg, and click Send verification email. Your chosen email account then receives the verification message, with a link for you to confirm to Hotmail that this email account belongs to you. Then you can choose your From address when you compose a New email, by clicking on the down-triangle next to your normal From address. Notice with Hotmail that you apparently can't configure a different form of your name as it appears in the From field: eg you can't configure Professor F Bloggs for uni email and Fred for your friends.

In practice, though your From: address is changed, your envelope-from address (in the detailed Received headers) remains your hotmail address, so don't imagine that it's well hidden (unlike with Yahoo). If you make a mistake with a recipient with such an email, the failure notice goes straight back to your Hotmail account (unlike Yahoo).

As far as I know, Hotmail does not provide Disposable Email addresses.

If you are a Hotmail user, and have corrections or suggestions for this section, let me know!