Migrate an existing custom email domain to iCloud for free!

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When Apple announced the availability to have custom domains work with iCloud Mail, I was quite excited with that. This means I can finally migrate an existing custom email domain to iCloud for free!

I’ve originally set up my site’s domain email with Microsoft’s Hotmail aka Outlook.com back when it was available for free. But since 2014, it has since discontinued the free custom domain service. And worst still, while the email service will indefinitely continue to work, Microsoft removed the administration access that means you have no way to reconfigure anything.

How to migrate an existing custom email domain to iCloud+

To start the migration process, you need to first login to your iCloud account. Once you’ve logged in, go to your account settings. There you would find the Custom Email Domain section to start this process.

iCloud+ Custom Domain Email settings

Click on the Manage button. If you have Family Sharing set up, you should get a prompt that asks if you want to set up the Custom Email Domain to include your family or not. Make sure you choose the right option here as I don’t see any way to revert it except by going through the setup again.

iCloud+ Custom Email Domain - Only you or with your family

In my case, I am setting up only for myself, but you can imagine that the rest of the steps are quite similar as its really just adding more emails for your family to under their own iCloud account that is registered under Family Sharing.

Next up, its time to tell iCloud which is the custom domain you own to use with iCloud mail.

Enter the domain you want to use with iCloud Mail

After entering the domain you own, you will be presented with the settings to add any existing emails you are currently using with the custom email domain. If the domain is new and you don’t have any existing email addresses with it, just skip this step.

Add existing email addresses currently used with the custom email domain.

iCloud will then send a verification email to ensure you currently own and use those emails you have just added.

Verify the existing email you just added to iCloud

The verification email will look like the screenshot below.

iCloud Mail custom email domain verification email

Once you click on the Verify button, you will see that iCloud has verified and validated the email address for you to use with iCloud Mail.

Existing email address verified on iCloud Mail

Repeat this for all the existing emails you may be using.

Do note too that there is a limit of up to three email addresses per domain.

Finished adding and verifying existing emails to iCloud Custom Email Domain setup.

How to configure your domain’s DNS records to iCloud

Now that you have completed verifying all the existing emails you want to migrate over to iCloud Mail, it is time to set up the DNS configuration of your domain.

Click on the view button at Step 3 to get all the DNS records you need. You should see something similar like the one below.

iCloud Mail DNS records instructions

Depending where your domain registrar is, you will need to edit and add the DNS records as per instructed. I personally use Cloudflare now to manage my domains. So once edited, the records is as per the screenshot below.

Cloudflare DNS records for iCloud Mail

Once done, it’s time to click complete on the iCloud Custom Email Domain setup.

Completed iCloud Custom Email Domain setup. Your domain is now ready to use with iCloud Mail

Testing the migrated custom email domain on iCloud

You should be able to receive emails through to iCloud almost immediately after setting up your DNS records. But I think the mileage may vary depending on your domain registrar and how fast the updated DNS records propagates across the Internet. I don’t know know what kind of magic they have on their DNS servers, but any updates to my DNS records via Cloudflare always seems to reflect almost immediately.

Custom email domain now working on iCloud Mail web interface

As you can see in the screenshot above. The whole setup from start to end of the migration where I can receive my emails is completed within 30 mins (see the timestamp of the emails in my Inbox). You could probably do this a lot faster too now that you have a complete step by step understanding of the process. 😄

Sending emails with the custom email domain as sender.

On the iCloud Mail web interface, you can select the From address to reflect your newly configured custom email address. You can also set it as the default address in the Mail settings.

There is one thing to note with sending emails from your existing email addresses. Some email services like Gmail might immediately put emails sent from iCloud directly to spam. This may be due caused by the email service still maintaining the old DNS records and expecting the email to be sent from the existing email service.

As such, my immediate test of email sent post migration went directly to Gmail’s spam filter. But testing this again 2 days later, the email no longer goes into spam and shows up well and good in Gmail’s inbox.

Using iCloud Custom Domain Email with 3rd Party Mail clients like Spark

Spark is my go-to email client across all my devices. To use your custom email address on iCloud, you will need to login to your iCloud Mail account on Spark.

As Spark already has the instructions to set up iCloud Mail well written on their site, I won’t repeat it here on my site. Do check it you if you need step by step help on it. Tl;Dr: You will need to use the @me.com or @icloud.com email addresses as the login id. You will also need to generate and use a app specific password with Spark. The instructions at Spark’s website will walk you through that process.

Adding iCloud Mail on Spark Mail client

Once you have added your iCloud Mail account on the 3rd party email client, go into the settings and look for the email alias settings. This is where you will add your migrated custom email address so that you can use it as the sender.

Setting up the custom email address as an alias on Spark Mail

Once everything is set up properly on Spark, you should be able to receive emails sent to your new custom email address on iCloud Mail.

Receiving emails to the iCloud Mail custom domain on Spark

Adding new Email addresses for the Custom Email Domain on iCloud Mail

To add any new email addresses, all you need to do is go back to the account settings on iCloud.com and click on the Manage button in the Custom Email Domain section.

Manage custom email domain on iCloud Mail

Here you will see the domain that you have added. Clicking on the domain brings you to the familiar interface where you can see all the existing email addresses. Add your new email address as you need. But remember, you can only have 3 addresses per user per domain in iCloud Mail.

Add new email addresses to the Custom Email Domain on iCloud Mail

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