Google is closing new signups for the free version of Google Apps suite, and this includes Google Apps with Gmail on custom domain names. Naturally, people looked for alternative (and still free) ways to get around this. One of the ways you can do this is by using Outlook.com. This is a free email service from Microsoft which you can use together with your own domain name. If you combine Outlook.com with Microsoft Skydrive (Microsoft’s free personal storage), you’ll have a very useful tool for website owners and professionals. This article will show you how you can set up your own branded professional outlook business email .
What makes a professional email different from other emails is that it contains your business name, like firstname.lastname@example.org. This is different from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can set up a professional email using the built-in mail server that come with most WordPress web hosting providers. However, Gmail does come with more features than the built-in mail server.
How to Set Up Outlook.com business email on a Custom Domain Name
Here are the steps you need to follow in order to use Outlook.com on your custom domain. You will need to configure the MX and TXT records of your domain.
1. Sign up for a Custom Domain Mail Service
Go to Windows Live Admin Center, and then click on Get Started so you can set up your domain on Outlook.com. You’ll need to enter your domain name on the next screen.
This next screen will give you the option of using an existing Microsoft account as the admin of the domain, or create a new account on your own domain name. Be sure to use an email address that is actually active, as you will be receiving a verification email to verify that you really own the email address you entered.
If you’re using an existing Microsoft account, you will be asked to sign in, or you will be asked to fill out a form so that you can set up a new account in your custom domain. Once you’ve finished filling out the form, a verification email will be sent to you at the email address you provided. The email will contain a link that you need to click to verify ownership of the email account you entered.
You will be taken to another page where you will need to confirm your request and acknowledge acceptance of the terms of service of Microsoft. When you accept the terms of service, you’re finished with setting up an admin email account to manage your domain on Outlook.com.
2. Set up DNS MX Records for Outlook.com
Once you’ve finished registration, you will be taken to the domain control page of Windows Live Admin Center. This will show you the MX and TXT record strings which need to be added into your DNS settings.
Cpanel is the most common account management system that most WordPress hosting providers use. Your provider may use a different interface of Cpanel, but what you should keep an eye out for is the Domain Settings page. Here you will find the link to edit your DNS settings or enter the MX records. If you can’t find it, you should contact your web host to find out where it is. The next steps outlined below make use of Cpanel to show you how you can add MX records.
- Log in to Cpanel and then click on MX Entry. It’s right underneath Mail.
- Choose a domain name.
- Set an email routing method by choosing “Automatically detect configuration.”
- Enter the MX record string you got from Outlook.com. Don’t change the priority, and add the M string record from Outlook.com in the Destination field.
- So that the emails you send do not end up in junk or spam, you’ll need to configure your sender ID by adding a TXT record: v=spf1 include:Hotmail.com ~all
- If you want your users to use mail.yourdomain.com when logging in to their email address, you’ll need to create a CNAME record in the custom DNS settings of your domain, or in the Simple DNS Editor of Cpanel. Put in Mail in the Name field, and then enter your subdomain in the CNAME field. It should look like mail.example.com
You’ll need to wait for the DNS settings to propagate, and this process can take anywhere between 30 minutes up to 48 hours. If you refresh the Windows Live Admin center’s domain settings page, you can see when the changes are live and ready.
3. Create a Custom Domain Name Email Account
Open the Windows Live Admin Center, and then click on your active domain. You’ll find the options to manage accounts on your domain on the left sidebar. If you choose Open Membership, people on your website can sign up for an email account with your domain name. You can also manually create email accounts for your friends, family, or community members. You can delete or suspend any email account in your domain at any time.
The new Outlook.com email service from Microsoft looks very promising. It is also a great choice for those who are looking for a free alternative to Google Apps. If you have any questions about setting up Outlook.com, do let us know about it by leaving us a comment below. If you’re currently using this service, we’d like to hear your experiences.