Setting up Google Workspace for a small business – part 6

Making my new email address my default email address

Things are starting to work. I have my new email address on my phone. Now I want to start using it as my main email address and tell everyone else in the office how to make that happen too. I need to:

  • Import all my old email
  • Import my old calendar with all future appointments
  • set my new email to collect email that arrives in my old account.
  • Import files saved in Google Drive

I’m looking to move domains in the least disruptive way I can think of. That means I’m not going to tell anyone and I’ll just start using the new address. I’ll have emails sent to the old address collected by the new address. Over time people will notice and start using the new address and I won’t miss any emails.

I’ll gradually start changing login email addresses to use the new email address too but I’m not losing access to the old email address so I’ve no time limit to do that in.

If my suppliers change email domain and their accounts department starts using it I always phone them to confirm they’re not being impersonated, just as I do when they change bank accounts (never trust a letter or email changing bank account details! Always phone and check with real people it’s genuine).

This page on migrating data into workspace looks useful for giving tools and instructions for migrating data. I mention it as I’ll pick one of these but you might find the others more useful.

Forwarding new emails to the old mailbox to the new mailbox

So far, these instructions are pretty straight forward

I’m going to set up forwarding now. There are two approaches to this;

Method 1 would be to have my new email address collect the email from my old email address.

Method 2 would be to forward all email that arrives in the old mailbox to the new mailbox.

I thought about the pros and cons of each and I’m going with google suggestion of forwarding all my emails. Forwarding can be hit and miss as many spam filters treat forwarded email as potential spam. Forwarding also has a problem in that it happens AFTER the google spam filters have run. I often see real email in my spam box so I’ll have to keep a check on the old account for a while. Collecting email is also becoming less straight forward as 2FA is not possible for POP/IMAP (the protocols used to collect email from another mailbox) so some services dont allow it or you have to set special app passwords.

One more thing though – in the longer term I will have the option of changing my old email to be an alias domain of the new email so I won’t need the forwarding for too long… i hope.

Summary instructions:

Old mail box > settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Add forwarding address
Confirmation email in new mail box to confirm before it can be used
Return to old mail box > settings >forwarding and POP/IMAP, select new email address. I choose to immediately archive the original mail, so I only see old mail in the old account and new mail in the new account.


OK, now for calendar events.

Calendar > Settings >Import and Export > Export

This should export ALL the calendars I’ve access too and the Zip file contains each calendar as a file. All I need to do is select just my Calendar as the other calendars I’ll resubscribe too (other people at Roots)

Unfortunately the export isn’t working and I get a 404 error. I’ll have to come back to this.

So, change of plan. Each user can go to Google Takeout, select calendars, just their calendar and export that to re-import it. At first I had an error message to say it failed but then I saw all my appointments past and present appear in my calendar.

Contacts import (easiest part so far)

Export from old account: Contacts (from the 9 dot menu at top right) > Ctrl + A (select all contacts) > More Actions (the 3 vertical dots) > Export > Export as: google CSV

Import to new account: Contacts (from the 9 dot menu at top right) > Import Contacts (it’s empty so that option is on the front page) > select the file.

Getting the old email into the new accounts

There are to methods for this too.

Method 1: Use the data migration service

Method 2: Allow users to import their old mailbox

Part of me things users doing their own is simple enough (there are only a few of us) but I also think if I get the migration service working for me then it will be easier for me to trigger it for everyone else giving them less to do. So, Data migration service it is!

You definitely want to be reading the full instructions for this. I’m summarising here for my own benefit later.

My notes: Nothing to add, it was all as I expected but I need each user to generate an app password for me to access their account.

Google Drive files

Now for the transfer of these. We don’t use drive files much but I’ve a few notes in spreadsheets that I want to keep so I’ll transfer.

It seems the simplest way to do this is Google Takeout selecting just Drive files. The others can do the same if they’ve files to keep. I don’t think it will copy links to files that are shared with us but we’re still able to see them in our original accounts and I’m sure can get access to them from the new account if needed.

Almost forgot!

We have an intranet which is a google site. It’s where we keep procedures and things, so I’ll need to migrate that too.

Setting up Google Workspace for a small business – part 5

I gave up with the Google Workspace Collaborative Inbox.

It had a number of problems for my use case, including:

  • I couldn’t get the custom footer working
  • Replies to the originator go as CC: instead of TO: as the group address is always the only TO: address.
  • Sending an email from the Groups web view, you always have to click CC: to add an address (we want to send emails from our collaborative inbox as well as process incoming emails).
I got this as a CC’d email instead of To:me@mydomain.com and I don’t like this

On the plus side, it did allow email conversations to be assigned to members of the group but I didn’t get as far as testing if marking the conversation as ‘complete’ also allow it to be hidden from view by default.

So what now?

Option 1: Find a suitable helpdesk software platform

like Zendesk, FreshDesk, Gekko, HelpScout, FreeScout, uvDesk or osTIcket (and that’s the shorter list of all the platforms I stumbled upon).

I mentioned before I like to keep overhead to a minimum. These are typically charged between £4 and £40 per month per user and we have 4 users covering the shop email account, so thats £192-£1920 per year of cost. Some have limited free offerings but the limitation often includes a limited number of records being kept which is too limiting for me.

The exceptions here are FreeScout, uvDesk and osTicket which have open source editions. I can run those on my own server and the only cost is time to set them up and maintain them. I can also alter them to suit our needs and processes and I have full control and access to all data. There’s a good argument that an open source solution will cost me more than £192 per year to run but the hosted £192 option doesn’t include all the nice things I could do with open source. The cost of open source is relatively fixed and not dependant on the number of users I have.

I’ve also got the option of writing my own too. Our needs are not too complex so processing email into a database and having a web front end (viewed like an email client) allowing our users to assign and reply and attach things is well within my technical capabilities but currently outside of my available time to implement.

Ticketing solutions also start edging into full CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and whilst I’ve been considering those for a while we’re a long way off yet.

besides, option 2 is far simpler and simple is good.

Option 2: Use a dedicated email address and give everyone delegated access

Which is exactly what we do now as our legacy account never had the Collaborative Inbox option. The downsides are:

  • Another user account to pay for (£5/month)
  • Having an account with another password (ok, that’s trivial, I’ll be the only one with the password and I’ll delegate access to everyone).
  • If you have a lot of users, knowing if someone was already working on a customer enquiry or a supplier request can get confusing – the app solutions in option 1 often had ‘collision prevention’ so two agents wouldn’t work on the same thing at the same time.

As we only have 4 users and a low volume of mail to our shared email, Delegated Access is the solution I’m using. There’s probably a limit to how many delegates you can allow to access your email, in one place I saw 10 as the limit and in another 100 so beware if you’ve lots of users of the shared email account.

Setting up delegated email

First, delete the group 🙂

Admin > Users > Add a user

First name = Hello, Surname = Roots, [drifts off remembering this post about names for users and how not every culture has a Surname]
email = hello@sroot

[Using an incognito window for the new account] Try to login, I can’t because 2FA is enforced, so Admin > User > hello roots (the user name) > 2 Step Verificatoin > get backup verification codes

Login with backup code, accept terms, set new password, enroll in 2 step verification, select phone prompt, then have to add the account to my phone usng another backup code.

Now, check users can allow delegated access (probably not by default). Unfortunately this change didn’t happen instantly for me, so you might have to come back to this point later.

Settings for gmail > User settings > Mail delegation (or search for delegation)

Add a delegate, instructions here but short version: settings > all settings > accounts > Grant Access to your account > enter the email address of the other user. They need to accept the invite.

These are my preferred settings for our shared account.

Once the invite is accepted a user can switch to the delegated email account (in this case hello@roots.uk) by selecting it from the top right panel icon with their initial

Whilst I’m here, I’d rather have my photo on my profile than my initials but by default users can’t edit their profile. Admin > Users > More is where you can change that.

So, I now have users set up and shared email account for us through delegated access. It’s the end of the day so I’m stopping here. Next task from my list will be setting up the server/infrastructure emails like noreply@

Setting up Google Workspace for a small business – part 4

Now 2FA is working for my 2 users, I can create our first Shared email address. For Google Workspace this is a “Collaborative Inbox” (see the setup instructions here). We’ve not had this in the past. We used to have a shared email address, showroom@rkbb.co.uk that was a regular user email address and then had delegated access to all of us that monitored it and replied to emails from customers. Whilst that would work still, it will also cost the same as another user account each month (near £55 per year on the cheapest account) whereas a collaborative inbox is free and apparently has built in tools to handle being used my multiple people and stop duplication of replies or not actioning an email because you think someone else is doing it.

First, we create a new Group (9 dot link)

then the 3 lines link

then create group

I chose hello@roots.uk for the group name. We set up showroom@rkbb.co.uk as an address back in 1999 and in todays world hello@ sounds nicer and easier to say then showroom@.

Privacy settings next, and that’s easy for our small business as every user can see everything and everyone can join.

and finally I can add members now. Me and my brother as owners and as I add the other user accounts I can add them later.

I’ve left it as subscription to each email but I’m not entirely sure that’s right yet.

Now I can go to the group

Reading the setup instructions, next I have to go to group settings and turn on “collaborative inbox”

There are some permissions to be assigned but I’m going with the defaults for now and will see how they work. The other interesting setting is “Default Sender” and I’m going to start by changing this to “Group address” by default. I think this will mean that if I reply to an email and there’s a response it still goes to the collaborative inbox so that others can see and action it.

There’s an email option setting and that includes the ability to turn off the standard groups footer (I’m turning it off) and add a custom footer (which I’ll turn on and add our standard email footer text).

Now to send a test email from an address outside of roots.uk to see how it works…

and it failed, but I think I see why

the group only allows posting by people within roots.uk and so my email from my old address was rejected.

Back to the group settings, I’ve turned on “Shared Labels” whilst passing – I expect that will mean if I label an email “supplier invoice” everyone will see that label. I saw no option to allow posting from outside our domain.

Next step is to return to admin.google.com, type the group name into the search box then click on the group.

Opening the settings box to edit it, I can see a column for “External” and “publish posts” field so I’ll activate that and save. I did not allow external members to the group, as I don’t want anyone joining it and seeing our emails.

and it looks like it worked, I have an email delivered to my inbox;

I can reply to that as a normal email and that arrives fine.

I see the same email in the shared group, but I don’t see my reply. That makes sense as the email was delivered to two places. I think I need to turn of emails to group members.

and if I reply from the group I get… confused

ahh, I see, I can choose to reply from my personal email or the group address

and replying from my address means the reply is sent to:hello@roots.uk and CC: the original sender,

that’s no good for me. Back to the group settings and set the default sender to be the group address.

and another option “Post replies to” was set as Sender Chooses so I’ll change that to default to the author only

I think that means if there are multiple people in the conversation we’ll have remember to select them.

In My membership settings I can change from each email to No Email.

Time for a new test!

Looking good…

and it’s still not perfect

The email was CC’d to the originator again and I want them to be in the to: location, like a normal email.

Now it’s late, so I’ll return in the next day or so when I have time to figure out the solution.