How do I configure Plesk to use G Suite for email?

This guide will show you how to configure Plesk such that mail services are no longer managed by Plesk and instead are handled entirely by the commercial G Suite, also known as Gmail for business, previously known as Google Apps for Business. If you’re looking to “forward” your emails to a free personal Gmail account, look here instead.

If you are transferring your existing mail accounts found within Plesk over to G Suite, make sure you have configured the email accounts you have in Plesk within your G Suite Control Panel (Google provides the information to access this. If you do not have it, please contact Google support).

Since the following changes are to your domain’s DNS configuration, they could take as long as 48 hours to update globally. You will need to be patient! That said, in many instances it will only take a few hours to complete successfully.

There are three required steps to configuring your account successfully to use Gmail for business:

PART 1: Incoming Mail

The following steps will configure your DNS Records to ensure mail is delivered to your Gmail for business account by adjusting the Mail eXchange (MX) records.

  1. Login to Plesk
  2. Choose Domains, then navigate to the domain you will be setting up with Google Apps.
  3. Select the DNS Zones or DNS Settings button and you’re ready to begin.
  4. Remove all existing MX records before entering in each of the new ones provided by Google.
  5. Follow the steps below to find and add your new MX records.

See this Google support article for the details describing what records you will need to create. In the event the link provided does not work, please consult the email Google sent you for how to configure Google Apps – it will contain an updated link that shows how to set up your MX records.

To add the MX records provided by Google complete the following steps:

  • Choose “Add Record”
  • Select Record type “MX” from dropdown
  • Leave domain field blank
  • Enter exchanger address as provided by the Google configuration article
  • Set priority number as close to the number Google’s article specifies

Repeat these steps for each server that Google provides in the doc.

For more information on DNS records, read here.

PART 2: Outgoing Mail

Adjusting your SPF record

When you switch to using Google Apps, you must allow Google’s servers to send email from your email accounts. If you skip this step, then your mail may not always reach its intended recipient if the recipient’s server is using SPF protection.

Read more about SPF and how it works here.

If you’re not already looking at your DNS Settings / Zones, follow steps 1-3 in PART 1 above, then look for a record of type “TXT” that starts with v=spf1 and probably looks something like v=spf1 a mx ~all

You will need to edit the existing record to allow Google’s servers to send your email. Insert the following value directly after  v=spf1. Ensure there is a space character between each entry.

include:_spf.google.com

The record will probably look something like this:

v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com include:_spf.websavers.ca +a +mx -all

If you wish to only send email using G Suite (meaning even your website will not be allowed to send email from your domain), then replace the entire record with the one recommended by Google: v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all

If this does not work for you, it’s possible that Google has changed their SPF configuration. Google has published these details on their website for reference.

PART 3: Disable Mail in Plesk

In the event that someone who has email hosted on the same server as you (or your own website) tries to send you email, we don’t want their email to be internally routed to the email account configured in Plesk – it should be sent to your G Suite account! This internal email delivery will occur unless you disable mail within your account. Read here to learn how!

PART 4: (Optional) Easy Access to G Suite

This step creates a CNAME record for easy / branded access to Gmail for business.

Rather than visiting admin.google.com to login to webmail, you can set up one more DNS record such that accessing ‘mail.yourdomain.com’ will bring you to your webmail (and should be usable for IMAP access to your account as well). Here’s how:

  1. If you’re not already looking at your DNS Settings / Zones, follow steps 1-3 in PART 1 above
  2. Find the record that says ‘mail.yourdomain.com’, check the box beside it and click the Remove button. You may also wish to do the same to the webmail.yourdomain.com record since the Websavers webmail will no longer be useful to you when using Google Apps.
  3. Be sure to click Update on the yellow warning at the top of the screen, then check to ensure the mail.yourdomain.com record is no longer in the list. If it is, try step 2 again.
  4. Add a new record of type CNAME. In the first box, enter mail (so that it reads mail.yourdomain.com.)
  5. In the second box enter the “Destination” shown in this Google article.
  6. Click Save and when the page refreshes, be sure to click the Update button at the top of the page to confirm all changes.
You should soon be able to access your webmail at mail.yourdomain.com. DNS changes like this could take up to 48 hours to complete globally, but will likely only take a few hours in most instances.

Jordan is a computer, security, and network systems expert and a lover of all things web and tech. Jordan consults with project management for software companies. Jordan is a founder and managing partner at Websavers Inc.

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