How To Set Up Free Email Accounts With WPMU DEV’s Managed WordPress Hosting

How To Set Up Free Email Accounts With WPMU DEV’s Managed WordPress Hosting

Congratulations! Your sites are hosted on WPMU DEV’s next generation WordPress hosting, which includes free email hosting. Now, let’s set up your emails.

Free email hosting is included with all WPMU DEV hosting plans (not sold separately).View our hosting plans

You have probably seen businesses advertising their website on their shopfront, vehicle, promos, etc. using their Gmail, Hotmail, or ISP provider’s email address!

Vehicle advertising business domain and Gmail address.
Nice wrapvertising, shame about the email!

Or, what if you created your email address a long time ago when you thought that having an email address like [email protected] was cool? Would you advertise this on your business card?

This not only looks unprofessional, but what happens if your free email account gets shut down or the business uses an ISP supplied email address and needs to switch service providers?

Using custom domain email addresses not only makes your business look professional, it also allows you to keep your business communications running without disruptions or additional costs if you decide to switch webhosting providers, ISPs, email services, etc.

Vehicle advertising business using domain and email address.
This business is totally on-brand with their email address!

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to set up email for your (or your client’s) business on WPMU DEV’s email hosting service and take you through practical examples of using email accounts, email aliases, and email forwarding to effectively manage emails in your business.

We’ll cover the following:

Managing Email in Your Business

Using domain email addresses can benefit your business. For example:

  • It makes your business look professional.
  • It strengthens your business brand.
  • It helps to eliminate disruptions in your business communications (e.g. changing ISP or email service providers).

Let’s create a simple setup that will let you manage your emails effectively.

For this example, suppose we manage a small business, where:

  • Sally runs sales.
  • Bob looks after support.
  • Jim manages the accounts.

Our website domain is “”

A simple diagram of our business, then, looks like this:

Simple flowchart of a small business.
Our small business team.

Now, let’s suppose we want to:

  1. Set up email addresses using our domain for each of the above areas of our business  (e.g. [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]), and
  2. Make sure that emails sent to those addresses arrive in our team members’ inboxes.

So, this is how we want to set up our domain emails…

Small business team email setup.
How we want to set up emails for our team.

Now that we have worked out a very simple plan for our business emails, let’s set it up using WPMU DEV’s email hosting.

Overview of WPMU DEV’s Email Hosting

WPMU DEV gives you free email hosting with every WordPress managed hosting plan and provides 4 different types of emails for your hosted sites at no additional cost:

  1. Transactional Emails – These are admin emails sent by WordPress and include WordPress update notifications, new user registrations, and user comments.
  2. Email Accounts – These allow emails to be sent from and received on your domain name. We’ll cover email accounts in detail in this guide and show you how to set them up.
  3. Email Forwarding – Email forwarding lets you set up an address like [email protected] and have all emails sent to this address forwarded to your Gmail, Outlook, or other service’s (e.g. ISP) email address.
  4. SMTP – You can send WordPress transactional emails from another email address that you own using any email service with valid SMTP credentials and our Branda white labeling plugin.

This tutorial focuses mostly on using Email Accounts and Email Aliases to set up emails for your business. We’ll also touch on using Email Forwarding later.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure that you understand the difference between an email account, an email alias, and email forwarding:

  • Email account: An email account has a mailbox where your messages are stored.
  • Email alias: An email alias does not have a mailbox, it just redirects the mail to the account you specify.
  • Email forwarding: We’ve touched on email forwarding above. This is where you create an email address that forwards (i.e. redirects) all emails sent to it to your “real” email address (e.g. a Gmail address). This is an option for individuals and small businesses that want to maintain a professional online reputation without incurring email hosting fees.


  • Email hosting and email forwarding cannot be used together on the same domain with WPMU DEV’s hosting, as they are different features and require setting up different MX records for the same domain.
  • Before deciding on an email setup for your business, refer to our email documentation for more information on how to use our email services, how many accounts you can set up, how to configure emails to work with popular email services, etc.

Now that we’ve got this out of the way, it’s time to get our emails on!

Custom Domain Emails Setup Guide

So, you have purchased your domain name.

Before we can set up emails for your domain on WPMU DEV’s hosting, we need to configure a few things.

Set Up Your DNS

Below is a quick set up guide. For an in-depth tutorial, check out our post on using our DNS management tool.

We’ll start with a newly-registered domain.

GoDaddy domain registration record
We’ll use this newly-registered domain to set up our emails.

I’ve also created a brand new site on WPMU DEV’s hosting using a temporary URL. (If you need help creating a new site, see our WordPress tutorial for beginners or refer to our documentation.)

The Hub - New Site
Here’s a brand new site set up on WPMU DEV hosting using a temporary URL.

Once your domain and your new site are set up, we need to connect these two.

First, let’s set up the DNS.

Go to The Hub and select DNS.

The Hub DNS tab
Let’s configure our DNS.

Click on the (+) symbol to add your domain.

DNS - Add Domain
Let’s add our domain.

Enter your domain name and click the Next (blue arrow) button.

The Hub - DNS - Add New Domain screen.
Enter your domain and click Next.

Our servers will scan for any DNS records belonging to your domain and automatically import these into your new DNS configuration.

The Hub - Set up DNS screen.
WPMU DEV scans and automatically imports any DNS records it finds.

Clicking the blue arrow button brings you to the Nameservers screen BUT…don’t click the Check nameservers button just yet…we still need to configure your nameserver settings.

For now, just copy the records shown for Nameserver 1, Nameserver 2, and Nameserver 3 to your clipboard and paste them into a plain text file. Keep this text file open. You will need it to complete the next step.

The Hub DNS - Nameserver information.
Don’t click the button just yet…we still need to configure your nameserver settings!

Configure Your Nameservers

Your domain registrar keeps records of your domain, including where it should point to. If the registrar also provides web hosting services, the domain will typically point to their own hosting servers.

If you want the domain to point to the servers of another hosting company (as we do in this example), then you’ll need to change the server address in the domain registrar’s nameserver records.

We provide detailed guides on how to change nameservers for many popular registrars and hosting companies in our documentation section.

For this tutorial, I’ll use GoDaddy, as this is where I registered the domain used in our example. Check our list of registrars for your specific domain(s) and follow the documentation tutorials to change your domain’s nameservers.

As shown in the screenshot below, I’ve located the Nameserver records in my domain registrar’s DNS Management section, pasted in all three of WPMU DEV’s nameserver records from my text file into the Nameserver fields, and clicked the Save button.

GoDaddy Nameserver screen.
I’ve updated the nameserver with WPMU DEV’s nameserver details.

Changing nameservers in this registrar required one more step, so I have given my permission to change the nameserver records and clicked on the Continue button as shown below.

Nameserver changes warning popup.
I have nothing built on my domain yet, so I’m not spooked by this warning message!

That’s really all there is to changing nameserver records. If you do this step correctly (i.e. enter the correct details and confirm the change), all you need to do is wait a little bit for the information to propagate across the internet.

To check if your domain has propagated, visit a website like or whatsmydns and either:

  • Type in your domain name into the search field and select the “A” record search, or
  • Enter one of your destination nameserver addresses into the field and selecting the “NS” record search.

The recommended wait time for domain nameservers to fully propagate is normally 24-48 hours.

I checked a few minutes after changing my nameserver records and my domain name had already fully propagated.
Wow…fastest nameserver propagation ever!

Once your nameserver records have updated across the internet, return to the previous screen (The Hub > DNS > Manage DNS > Nameserver) and click the Check nameservers button.

The Hub - Check nameservers
Now, let’s go ahead and click the button.

You should see a confirmation message that your nameservers are propagating correctly.

If not, wait a little while and try again. If you’re still waiting for the nameserver records to propagate, go back to your registrar and make sure that you have entered the correct nameserver addresses. If you’re still experiencing problems after a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, just contact our support team and they will help you out.

The Hub - Nameservers propagating correctly message
The new nameservers are propagating righteously…sweet!

Now that we’re done tinkering under the hood with DNS and nameservers, let’s actually go set up our emails.

Creating Email Accounts

We will assume you have already connected a domain and it is ready to go.

DNS sorted, propagated, all that good stuff.

Now we’re ready to set up our email.

Select one of your sites, go to Hosting, navigate to the Emails tab, and click on Email Accounts.

Hub - email accounts screen.
Let’s set up our email account.

Next, scroll down to find active email accounts and the Create new email account option.

If you have already added your custom domain, select Add email account.

Add email account button.
Click to add an email account.

Add a Custom Domain Name

Note: If you have NOT set your “primary domain” for this particular site, you will see that you need to add it first.

Hub - Email accounts - add domain name.
You’ll need to add a domain before you can set up an email account.

To do this, click on add domain name.

Hub - Add domain
Click on Add Domain…

Enter your domain and click on the Add domain button.

Add Domain to Hub
Enter your domain.

You’ll then be taken to your domains list.

If you’ve elected to have WPMU DEV manage your DNS and have pointed your nameservers to your WPMU DEV hosting account as shown earlier, then DNS and SSL will be automatically configured for you.

Hub - Domains screen
WPMU DEV is managing my DNS and everything has been configured automatically!


  • If you’re not seeing all green ticks on this screen, just wait a little bit and recheck your DNS. To recheck, just click on the ellipsis next to the domain name and select Recheck DNS.
Check DNS Status
How to recheck your DNS status.

If everything is set up correctly and you’re seeing all green ticks, then click on the three dots (ellipsis) next to the domain name you want to set up as the primary domain and select set as primary. 

Set domain name as primary.
Set your domain name as the primary domain.

After confirming, your selected options will replace your temporary URL as the primary domain.

Primary domain name
Our custom domain is now set as the primary domain.

Now, when you go back to the Create new email account section, you should see the option to add an email account.

Add email account button.
Now we can add our email account.

Click this and you’ll be greeted with a popup window where you can enter your email account name and copy the automatically generated password (you will need this!).

Add an email account
Create your email account and copy your password details.

Your new email account will then be created.

Email DNS not set up.
Our email account is set up, but our email DNS is not.

Looking good so far, although that DNS status is not ideal.

Note: If you try rechecking the DNS…

Email DNS recheck.
Our email account DNS is not set up yet.

You will see there are missing DNS records, which we need to add to our DNS setup.

Missing email DNS records warning notice.
Our email account is missing these DNS records.

To fix this we’ll need to add our DNS records to the account (after initially setting this up, it will automatically add these records to all subsequent accounts you create).

Add DNS records to email account.
We need to add these DNS records to make our email account work.

Scroll up the page to find the DNS records, then select Add DNS Records.

Add DNS Records button.
Click the Add DNS Records button.

Once you’ve done this, recheck your DNS status and you should see that you’re all good to go.

Note: In some cases, DNS propagation can take few hours (even if we’re managing your DNS).

Email account DNS status ok.
Our email account is now set up.

After configuring the first email account, all new accounts you add will automatically get the green light.

Email accounts added.
New email accounts added after your first is set up will automatically get the green tick.

Now that you’ve created your email accounts it’s only a matter of connecting these to your preferred email provider.

Every provider has their own steps, you can find many examples in our docs.

Let’s use the one for Gmail

To send and receive emails from your WPMU DEV Email Account in Gmail, open Gmail in your browser and click the settings (gear) icon in the top right of the screen.

Gmail Settings
Click on the gear icon.

Click the Accounts and Imports tab and under the Check mail from other accounts option, click the ‘Add a mail account’ link.

Gmail Settings - Add email account
Let’s add an email account in Gmail.

In the “Add a mail account” module, enter the email address from your WPMU DEV hosting account and click next.

Gmail - Add a new account setup field.
Enter your email address here.

If you see the following step, choose the Import emails from my other account (POP3) and click next.

Gmail email import options
Select import email from your POP3 account.

Then enter your WPMU DEV email account credentials and server information:

  • Username – Default is your email address
  • Password – The password you created or the strong password generated when creating the Email Account
  • Pop Server –
  • Port – 995
  • And check the box always use a secure connection (SSL) when retrieving mail.
  • Click add account

Note: If you get an error message, go back to The Hub email account settings and check that you’ve copied the correct password to your clipboard, then try again.

Gmail account error message.
If you get an error message, check that you have entered all the correct details.

If you have entered the correct details, you will see a successful notification like the one shown in the screenshot below.

Gmail - email account added.
Your email account has been added to Gmail.

If you would also like to send emails from your Gmail account, choose the Yes, I want to be able to send mail as option, then click Next.

You will then be asked to enter information about your other email address. Make sure to check the Treat as an alias box so that messages received from your WPMU DEV email account will appear in your Gmail inbox. Click Next Step when this is done.

Gmail - Add another email address that you own.
Add additional details about your email account.

Configure the send options:

  • SMTP Server – This is
  • Port – 587
  • Username – Default is your email address.
  • Password – The password you created or the strong password generated when creating the Email Account.
Gmail - SMTP server details.
Enter your SMTP server details.

Click the Add account button and verify your account, either by clicking on the verification link or by inputting the confirmation code sent to your email.

Gmail verify email address.
You just need to confirm and verify your account.

When you receive the confirmation email, either enter and verify the confirmation code into the Gmail window as shown in the screenshot above, or click on the verification link in your email.

Gmail email verification account
Check your inbox for the verification email.

If you click on the verification link in the email, you will need to click on the Confirm button.

Gmail confirmation link.
Confirm your email account.

Once you have confirmed this, you will see a Confirmation Success message.

Gmail email account confirmed.
Your email account is now confirmed.

You should now be able to send and receive emails from the Gmail client.

If you encounter an issue connecting to Gmail, contact WPMU DEV live chat support 24/7.

Email Setups and Configurations

Let’s look at different ways we can set up domain emails in your business.

Email Client Setup

What we have covered in the above tutorial is an example of setting up email accounts with email clients.

Diagram of email client setup.
Email client setup.

In this setup:

  • Sally configures the email [email protected] to send and receive emails on her Gmail account using a POP3 client.
  • Jim configures the email [email protected] to send and receive emails on his Outlook service using a POP3 client.
  • Bob configures the email [email protected] to send and receive emails on his Apple Mail account using a POP3 client.

Any emails sent to:

Email Alias Setup

If you have people managing different areas of your business like sales, accounts, support, etc., then an effective way to set up emails for your team is to give each member their own mailbox and create “departmental” aliases forwarding emails to your team member’s email accounts.

Each person then sets up their email mailbox as shown in the previous example.

A diagram of email aliases.
Email aliases setup.

In this setup, we first configure each person’s email account as follows:

  • Sally configures the email [email protected] to send and receive emails on her Gmail account using a POP3 client.
  • Jim configures the email [email protected] to send and receive emails on his Outlook service using a POP3 client.
  • Bob configures the email [email protected] to send and receive emails on his Apple Mail account using a POP3 client.

Next, we configure ‘departmental’ email aliases for the following addresses:

To set up an email alias for your domain, go to The Hub, then locate your site, and select Hosting > Emails > Email Accounts…

The Hub - Hosting - Emails - Email Accounts
Go to Email Accounts.

Make sure the prefix you want to use as an alias (e.g. [email protected]) isn’t already set up as an email account. If it is, you will need to delete the email account for that prefix before you can set it up as an email alias.

Delete email accounts.
Make sure the email alias isn’t already set up as an email account.

Also, make sure the destination mailbox for the alias is already set up. Refer to the tutorial above if you need help setting up a mailbox.

To create your email alias, click on the Add alias button.

Add alias button.
Click on Add alias,

Enter your alias prefix and select an email account to connect it with, then click the Add button.

Add email alias
Add your email alias.

Note that all email aliases point to emails using the same domain. If you plan to direct emails to destinations on different domains then use email forwarding instead (see next section below).

Email alias
Email alias added.

Continue setting up email addresses until you are done.

Email aliases
All email aliases are now set up.

Now, all emails sent to:

Note the following:

  • All email aliases must point to emails using the same domain. If you plan to direct emails to destinations on different domains then use email forwarding instead (see next section below).
  • If you want to direct all emails to a specific address regardless of the prefix used in the email address (e.g. [email protected]), then use the Catch All feature when creating an email alias.
Catch-all email address.
You can also set up a catch-all email address when creating an email alias.

Email Forwarding Setup

The last setup we’ll look at is where we forward any emails sent to domain email addresses (e.g. [email protected]) to a user’s existing email address without the need to set up separate email accounts for our recipients.

a diagram of email forwarding
Email forwarding setup.

If we go back to the top of this article where we talked about businesses promoting their websites but using email addresses from Gmail, Outlook, or an address supplied by the ISPs, this is where this option comes in handy.

Instead of looking unprofessional, a business can simply set up an email forwarding address using their domain and receive all emails sent to a professional-looking email address on their private email address.

Another instance where email forwarding can be useful, is if you outsource an area of your business (e.g. accounts and bookkeeping) and you want all communications sent to a departmental email address (e.g. [email protected]) to be forwarded directly to your outsourced provider’s email address (e.g. [email protected])

Note: As mentioned earlier, email forwarding is a separate feature and cannot be used together on the same domain with WPMU DEV’s email hosting, as each feature requires setting up different MX records for the same domain.

Refer to our email forwarding documentation for instructions on configuring this setup.

Also, see our detailed instructions on how to configure SMTP to send emails using Branda, our WordPress white label plugin and a webmail service like Gmail or a client application like Outlook.

Get Your eMail On With a Custom Domain and WPMU Email Hosting

Email is essential to growing your business. WPMU DEV includes free email hosting with email accounts, email aliases, and email forwarding to all members and with all hosting plans.

Decide which option will work best for your business email setup and check our email documentation or contact our support team if you have any questions.

Image credits: pa

Have you used WPMU DEV's email hosting yet to set up emails for your or your clients' sites? Share your thoughts and comments below.
Martin Aranovitch
Martin Aranovitch Martin is a WordPress trainer and educator who believes he can solve all problems using WordPress plugins. He is the author of "The Complete Step-By-Step WordPress User Manual" and runs a WordPress training website for web developer clients and end-users at