Recently I wrote an article on 7 Reasons Why you Should be Using Google Apps and few of my readers suggested that a guide on how to use Google Apps would be useful. Google Apps for Your Domain is a software bundle aimed at small and mid size businesses. Google Apps lets you offer email, instant messaging, and calendar accounts on your own domain name (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org), to keep your group close and build its online identity. So here is the detailed guide on how to set up and configure Google Apps for your domain.
Google Apps has different versions like small business, enterprise, educational and family or group. I’m going to explain how to configure the standard version which is completely free of cost. The premier version is available for a limited 30 day trial.
Once you sign up for Google Apps, you will be taken to the registration page, where you need to enter your domain name or get a domain name for you.
After you complete the sign up process you will get a confirmation mail and after that you can login to your cPanel (the url of the cPanel would be available in the mail). Once you log into your cPanel, you can configure all your user accounts, mails, docs, calenders etc.
The service dashboard (cPanel) has the following options.
Before I explain each of these settings, lets first configure our domain settings. You can find a navigational link named “Domain Settings“, this will show you the domain settings. You can give a title for your organization, select the language, time zone and add custom logo. The header logo will be available in all the screens of Google Apps. Check out the custom logo I have created for my domain.
Once you have added your logo, save the changes.
1. Start Page: Start page is the page which allows your users to access Google services and other information from a single place. The URL of the start page can be customized to point to your domain. For this you need to create a CNAME record in your domain and point it to Google. Once this is done, your users can access the start page with custom URL like start.mydomain.com where start is the new CNAME created for your domain.
The start page can be customized using the page editor. Here you can change the look and style of the start page. Here you can select a layout, change colors for text and links, add a header and footer and also add content. Once you have made the changes, publish the content and all your users will be able to login from the URL.
2. Email Accounts: The advantage of using Email address with Google Apps is that you can create unlimited number of Email accounts with your domain which has 2GB storage space and all the features of Gmail, including POP3 access. For using this you need to change the Mail Exchange (MX) settings in your domain. It should be configured to point to Google. Detailed steps on how to change MX settings is available when you activate the mail service. To access the mail, you can either use http://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.com/ or you can customize the URL to mail.yourdomain.com by adding a CNAME to your domain.
The next part of this tutorial will cover how to configure web page, calenders and docs & spreadsheets.
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