How to Set Up Custom Email Domains with iCloud Mail

Originally published at: How to Set Up Custom Email Domains with iCloud Mail - TidBITS

Want to rely on iCloud Mail as your email provider but use a custom domain for your email address rather than icloud.com, me.com, or mac.com? Apple has now opened up that feature for testing. Here’s what you need to know.

I have my own unique domain name. Being able to use iCloud sounds great, but it sounds like more work than it’s worth. It’s a bit over my head. I think I will stick to easyDNS for now. Thanks for the article, though.

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I don’t get why anyone would do that. You get all the drawbacks of iCloud.

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Having this article so close to the one entitled “Resetting Recent iCloud Bouncing Subscribers” should give anyone pause when considering using iCloud mail servers. Mail must be reliable in this day and age, along with rapid fixes and good customer service. Sounds like switching to iCloud is a disaster waiting to happen.

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Quite right. I’m going back to self-hosting at home (VPS in case of need), and one reason is precisely to deal with iCloud’s pernicious SMTP-time rejection and silent-discarding of email. Not sure why I started using iCloud in the first place TBH; must have been insanity. Then again, 2012 was a different time.

OTOH: it seems hard to argue with using iCloud’s Mail forwarding addresses if the alternative is to use registrar services for forwarding mail, as is currently my case. It would be clearly preferable for iCloud to receive and filter mail directly from other hosts. No doubt, for that purpose, it’s adequate and far more convenient.

Edit: and the 3-alias limit per domain! Really, even with forwarding addresses, that does seem entirely unreasonable to me. I’ll definitely miss push on my way out, though.

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That is a problem. Initially many of our iCloud-using customers would not get their license emails. We had to remove all the links from our license emails. That was very frustrating and cost us and them lots of hours.

Still, iCloud’s privacy is superior. We’re all privacy-compromised because so many people have gmail accounts.

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Yeah, a bit of unfortunate timing :joy: As I say in the article, there are reasons I don’t use iCloud Mail, but I know many of our readers do.

I currently own a couple of unused domains but i have an info@ address for each of them. I forward them to my iCloud account for the simplicity of everything arriving into one mailbox. Being able to assign custom domains into iCloud would be nice - specifically the ability to send from the custom domain (currently I can only send from my primary iCloud account for the forwarded domains).
I might be an exception, but I’ve had very few problems with iCloud mail, far fewer than I’ve had with Exchange (which is light years more difficult to manage).

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I’ve tried to add my domain, jbr.is, but I get an error message: “There was a problem with adding that domain. Please try again later”. It’s not awfully informative: any ideas?

Is the error on the iCloud end? I would report it to Apple since this is a beta and it might be a bug.

The error seems to be at iCloud: the help desk at isnic denies any knowledge of a problem (and actually pointed me at the original article here!)

What’s the best way to report it to Apple?

As you are in the Monterey beta you should use the application Feedback Assistant.

I’m not: I’m using Big Sur. The issue is at beta.icloud.com.

Try this: Feedback - iCloud - Apple

Also, it’s hilarious they pointed you back here. I did a Google search and we’re the top result in how to use a custom domain with iCloud.

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Thanks, Josh. I was amused too. I’ve submitted a description at the feedback page.

So basically the pro(s) of using iCloud for custom domains are what?

AFAICT, everything in the article was basically saying don’t bother, lol.

It’s not even free IMAP email storage, given you have to at least be a Plus customer, unlike say Gmail (although they use their proprietary IMAP-a-like backend, which has never worked well in clients, especially Apple’s).

Is it basically just relatively cheap then as it’s main selling factor, compared to other solutions?

This is for custom domains. You can’t get a custom domain for free on Google either. (You were once able to - I have one of those.)

One advantage may be privacy - Apple will not be harvesting and/or using IP or location for marketing purposes. Of course Google doesn’t sell that info, but they do use it to improve ads shown to you, etc.

The advantage is the vast number of people who rely on iCloud for email can now use a custom domain for their address. Simple as that.

If you don’t use iCloud for email, there’s no particular benefit, but that’s your decision and may not match up with others’ decisions.

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Yes I know it’s for custom domains – that’s what the thread’s about.

I meant you buy a domain, then use Gmail as the free email storage (optionally paying Google for extra functionality, if wanted). However using the same domain with iCloud storage isn’t quite free (obviously min. $£€1 charge) to do the same thing, but more poignantly are the many more restrictions iCloud has outside of the privacy benefit. And if you have to pay anyway, you could just use something less restrictive and get privacy, like Fastmail (see below).

Yes I have an iCloud email, and sure people have another choice which is always nice. But what’s so special about using it for custom domain email address usage, over something else as ones IMAP storage backend? (especially given the restrictions the article mentioned; very thorough BTW Josh! :wink: )

Ultimately, if someone wants a custom domain email address, why would they use iCloud with its restrictions as the storage backend, instead of just using something free like Gmail (if they didn’t mind Gmail’s type of sync) or similar moderate cost Fastmail (vanilla push IMAP), et al.?

Fastmail, for example, also has great customer service to help set it up or should problems arise in future. But with iCloud (and the free Gmail too, last time I checked!), there really isn’t as decent a support in place.

There’s a lot of inertia with email—if you have been using iCloud for many years and you’re happy with it, why change? Plus, if you suddenly start using a custom email address, you’re still going to receive a lot of email at your old iCloud address and this way it all comes to the same place without having to set up forwarding or check multiple accounts.

I don’t think there’s anything special about iCloud Mail’s custom domain support—it’s mostly interesting to long-time iCloud users who don’t want to switch backends and already are or are willing to pay for iCloud+. But there are probably a lot of those people.

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