By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

One giant step for Googlekind

Gmail has finally tweaked its system so that you can send an e-mail to someone using your non-Gmail address and not have Gmail information show up anywhere in your header.

Farhad Manjoo, writing for New York Times Bits, makes it sound merely like a matter of workplace protocol, but there’s more to it than that. If you send an e-mail that appears to be from one of your non-Gmail accounts, but Gmail data still show up in your header, you will occasionally find that the person on the receiving end never sees it, as it gets caught in a spam filter.

That happened to me earlier this year. Because I couldn’t take the chance that people wouldn’t receive messages sent from my Northeastern address, I actually gave up on the Web version of Gmail for a few months, futzing instead with Apple Mail. The horror.

I went back recently after being assured by Northeastern’s IT folks that the the spam problem I had described was probably a random event. But I followed the Gmail instructions this morning the moment I read about them. Given that was by far my biggest complaint about Gmail, I am a very happy customer right now.

Next up: Figuring out how I can send outgoing mail from my new BlackBerry using either my personal or my Northeastern address. Given that all my mail goes to the same Gmail account, I’m not sure I can do that. Any thoughts?

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  1. mike_b1

    Dan, re the Blackberry question, you can manage which email address a recipient sees via the Profile screen in the Blackberry Internet Service toolbar. If you haven't set that up, I believe it defaults.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Hmmm … will have to check that out. Not even sure where that is.

  3. mike_b1

    Online. In my case, I use AT&T, so the URL is, you can create an account, set up your email accounts to sync with your device, and set up filters for each email address.Each time you write a message from your device, in the header there's an option to change the outgoing email address. If you send from the aggregate email account, it will go to the default setting. You can change that online or on your device, I believe. You can also send email from inside the individual email accounts on your device; in that case, it automatically selects that address. (You can change those on the fly as well, though.)

  4. Rich

    send an e-mail to someone using your non-Gmail address and not have Gmail information show up anywhere in your header.Dan,The Gmail instructions do not claim that, nor is it true. I made the change to see what happens and you still get Message-ID headers in the form:, there will still be a Received header with the IP address of the google server that took your HTTP request when you hit "send".So someone can still tell you sent it via gmail.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Rich: The mailed-by line in the header now says, which I have to believe will make a huge difference with spam filters.

  6. Rich

    Dan:Oh, that absolutely will make a difference.But I didn't want you (or anyone reading this) to think that no one could tell that the mail wasn't sent via gmail. While it in essence won't be sent from gmail via a spam filter's point of view, it will still be visible to an interested human or program that it was sent via gmail, should one care.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Rich: I guess I wasn't thinking of it in terms of people getting into trouble. My employer, far from objecting to my using Gmail, actually tried to help me out and determine what the problem was.

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