Help File: Using an alternate Gmail return address in a smartphone's mail program

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Q: How do I use a different return address for my Gmail account on my phone? Its e-mail program won't let me add one.

Google's free Web-mail service makes it easy to add a different address to your account. But to use that alternate identity on an iPhone or a device running Google's Android software, you need to avoid those smartphones' simplified Gmail-setup routines.

First, make sure you've switched on Gmail's IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) option-- the best way to keep track of which messages you've read, replied and forwarded in all of your mail applications.

On an iPhone, add a new account in its Settings app, but choose "Other" instead of "Gmail" on the next screen. Enter Gmail's iPhone-specific IMAP settings, typing your alternate address in the "Address" field instead of your Gmail address.

To be able to switch between both identities, write a comma, a space and your Gmail address anywhere in the iPhone, then copy and paste that text into the "Address" field, right after the first address; you can choose one or the other when writing a message by tapping its "From:" line.

You can also add your Gmail account and its alternate address to your regular computer's mail software. Next time you sync the iPhone, select it in iTunes, click the "Info" tab and click the checkbox next to "Sync Mail Accounts" to copy over the new settings.

On an Android phone, ignore Google's Gmail application and instead configure your Gmail account in your phone's other e-mail program with Google's IMAP server settings. In some cases, you won't be able choose return addresses; it would be the alternate or Gmail exclusively.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or Visit for his Faster Forward blog.

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