back to article Gmail shoves 'on behalf of' feature to one side

Gmail users can now send their emails from third party SMTP servers. Google announced yesterday that it's finally got with the program and opened its web mail service up for users who want to send emails from other addresses. "Instead of using Gmail's servers to send the message, we'll use the servers where your other email …


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  1. Carl W
    Gates Horns

    I'm with Google on this one...

    Their use of the From: and Sender: headers is as originally envisaged in RFC-822. If Microsoft choose to screw that all up by displaying 'on behalf of' then it's hardly Google's fault.

  2. Lee Jackson 1
    Thumb Up

    Love it!

    And thats all I have to say.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Great, more spam

    Since Google never deal with spammers using Gmail, I assume this is their getout clause for doing nothing because "it never came from us".

    Effective incoming anti-spam system but they point blank refuse to block their own customers spamming the rest of the world.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor article, from the first sentence...

    This article seems really confused, unless I've really misunderstood it.

    It's never been an issue sending from GMail accounts via non-Google servers and Google had no control over these for "on behalf of" anyway - the issue was that if you used a GMail SMTP server to send from a non-GMail address, it flagged up as being from the GMail account used. I've no doubt it's so replies would also go to Google for indexing.

    So really what they've said is that they'll allow anyone with a GMail account to use GMail SMTP servers without GMail getting in the way. Which is great if you're on the road and you've had to rely on changing the SMTP server depending on the network you're on.

    It's also good for those using Sky's version of GMail (with Sky broadband) who haven't really had an SMTP server they can use which doesn't add GMail stuff on!

    But it's not really got anything to do with GMail now working on third party servers... e-mail just doesn't work like that.

  5. James Dunmore


    That is really helpful.

    For those that use a googlemail account to aggregate other account also hosted by google (apps for your domain) - i.e. your domain mail is hosted by google and forwarded onto another google account, then set the mail servers to - just tried it, works a treat.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    still rubbish

    Sending email from my google apps where i have several domains linked still shows the "on behalf of" message and displays my default google apps email and then the one who i told it to send it from.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    At last

    Been waiting for this for ages, the 'on behalf-of' nonsense was very annoying.

    All I need now is for the Android native Gmail client to have a 'send as' option, and I can put all my email eggs into Google's basket now and forever more. Yay!

  8. Dale Richards

    Not Google's problem

    Surely this is an issue with the way certain clients (e.g. Outlook) handle Sender: headers. If people are that annoyed by it, shouldn't they be pestering Microsoft to change Outlook?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @Great, More Spam

    How will this be more spam? If spammers have access to an open (or their own) SMTP server, then whether or not they use Gmail to write the email before it gets sent is entirely irrelevant. You clearly don't understand what they've done.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @still rubbish

    Did you actually bother to read Google's docco on it (linked off the article) and make the settings change required to make this work? I'm guessing not.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    @Poor article from the first sentence

    Yes, you've really misunderstood it. The first sentence is entirely accurate, and practically quotes the google blog explanation.

    This won't help "Sky broadband users who don't have an SMTP server they can use which doesn't add GMail stuff on" because it Google forward the mail through a 3rd party SMTP server authorative for the domain name if you enable this option. So if you don't have that SMTP server available, guess what? You can't use this feature.

    "So really what they've said is that they'll allow anyone with a GMail account to use GMail SMTP servers without GMail getting in the way." - What in the name of fuck is that supposed to mean? Without "getting in the way"? Is that now a technical term?

    Read it again.

  12. AceRimmer

    @Still Rubbish

    You need to go into your account setup in GMail and set up the "send mail" server for that email account.

    If you don't do that then gmail doesn't know where to send the email!


  13. The Indomitable Gall
    Gates Horns

    I'm with Carl W on this one

    Google are removing a valuable audit trail not because they want to, but because Microsoft have (once again) buggered up the user experience.

    Why did MS bugger up the user experience?

    I seem to remember that it was to stop scammers and spammers spoofing other people's addresses. And now they're just encouraging people to hide the originating address. Spoof, in other words.


  14. Anonymous Coward

    On behalf of and stuff

    The Outlook "on behalf of" stuff is about right, even if you don't like it. If you're signed in as one person and sending mail on behalf of someone else then the resulting RFC2822 message has the authenticated user (you) as the Sender: and the person you're sending on behalf of as the From:

    Since the From: field can be a list of addresses, the value of the Sender becomes even more useful. If I recall correctly, sendmail (among others) will ensure that the Sender: header field and the MAIL FROM address in the SMTP envelope are actually the same.

    I really like this new thing from google though. Now I get to send mail through my own server via a TLS connection. The only thing I'm not so keen on is storing the password in the gmail server, but I think I can live with that (others may not be so keen).

    Hats of to the boys and girls in the chocolate factory for this.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    still rubbish

    I did read the article linked. Let me explained the scenario.

    I have a google apps account set up to

    I have set up another alias domain called

    I have set up so i can send an email from

    It shows up in outlook when I wend an email as on behalf of My Name

    If I go to the accounts page and click 'edit info' I get the options to "Send through Myname Mail (easier to set up)" or "Send through SMTP servers (recommended for professional domains – Learn more)"

    Of course there are no SMTP servers for because its set up through google apps.

    If I type as the server and put in my google apps username and password it gives the error "Authentication failed. Please check your username/password.

    [Server response: 535-5.7.1 Username and Password not accepted. Learn more at 535 5.7.1 s10sm21955801muh.47 code(535) ]

    Not easy is it.

  17. NogginTheNog


    Can someone explain to me why anyone would get an GMail account (are they still invite only?), and then use another mail service to send emails *through* the Gmail one...???

    I'm completely missing the point of this?!

  18. Anonymous Coward


    This is why: I have two accounts - and I want to consolidate all email into the gmail account for several reasons:

    1. Gmail acts as a searchable archive

    2. Gmail's webmail client is better than most

    3. I want all my email in one place

    4. All my sent emails get archived in gmail too

    5. I don't want to pay hosting fees for a custom POP/IMAP server

    So what I do is set all email to forward to I can then set up my gmail account so that when I reply to mails originating from, the get sent to look as if I'm emailing through that domain, not gmail. Which can look a bit more professional (and, ironically, means I don't have to give my gmail account details to all my friends, in case I ever want to move away from gmail).

    However, for (sensible) anti-spam reasons, gmail guys didn't want to just send mail 'spoofed' as if it was sent from, as that would be a spammer's delight (imagine, I could send mail as - how would gmail know whether I should be able to send with that address or not?).

    So now, they're basically saying "if you have access to the smtp servers for, we'll use those to send the email instead".

  19. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Up


    Ah right, gotcha. Cheers :-)

  20. Joel 1

    The problem is....

    ...that this way you can't use gmail smtp servers as a last resort if your own smtp server has died for some reason. I will use gmail as a backup mail server when power outages mean that my smtp server is down. I can either use gmail as a backup server with the on behalf of, or via my servers with the correct details. Not both.

  21. unfunk
    Thumb Up

    about time!

    I've had more than one job interviewer be very confused by the "on behalf of" thing, and potentially put off any interviews with me, because my GMail username is an unintelligible mess of letters that looks a little rude.

    I understand that Google's been doing the right thing, and that it's Microsoft's implementation that's wrong, but the fact of the matter is that practically all corporations use Outlook.

    This makes me love GMail even more than I already do, which is a fair amount.


  22. Anonymous Coward


    Surely this is most useful for people who want to send email via their own domains but using Gmail UI and not fall foul of anti spam measures which often include SPF and PTR record lookups on the sending mail server and the domain that the mail is allegedly from.

    So if i send an email from using say there is no proof as to who I really am , so this is likely deleted by a spam filter.

    But if I do it from a mailserver that reverse resolves to and is named in the SPF records as a valid sender for then of course I am less likely a spammer (assuming of course that has some authetification mechansiam setup which they'd be daft not to have...)

    So this along with incoming mail forwarding will provide a much simpler way for an IT guy to set their mobile workers up with a reliable and familiar email system whilst "on the road".

  23. Chris C

    Spoofing and spam

    So people were sending messages through Google's SMTP servers with FROM headers set to a non-gmail address, and they're upset that Outlook shows that? I'm sorry, but Outlook is behaving correctly in my opinion. They could be more accurate in the wording by changing it from "From On Behalf Of" to " Sent By (or Via)", but the basic principle holds true -- mail clients SHOULD display both headers (FROM and SENDER) so that you know who the message really came from.

    On a related note, mail sent through a gmail SMTP server with a non-gmail FROM address should immediately be flagged as spam. You do have an SPF record on your domain, right? If you do, and you set Google's SMTP servers as authorized for your domain, then you're an idiot because it allows anyone sending from Google's SMTP servers to send spam from your domain, and you explicitly authorized it. If you don't use SPF at all, then you're an idiot because anybody can spam from your domain. Yes, anybody can send spam from any domain at any time, but every reasonable mail admin will be checking SPF for all incoming messages and flagging SPF failures as spam.

  24. Greg D

    It amazes me sometimes

    How people still manage to moan and groan about free services.

    Come on people, get real!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "However, for (sensible) anti-spam reasons, gmail guys didn't want to just send mail 'spoofed' as if it was sent from, as that would be a spammer's delight (imagine, I could send mail as - how would gmail know whether I should be able to send with that address or not?)."

    ^^^^^ FAIL

    When you add your own email address you receive:

    "Before you can send mail as, we need to verify that you own this email address. To perform the verification click "Send Verification". We will then send an email to with instructions on how to verify your address."

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