Email routing

Email routing and delivery options for Google Workspace

As an administrator, you can customize how email is routed and stored to suit your organization's requirements.

For example, you might have incoming messages for unrecognized users routed to a specific mailbox or server. You may want messages sent to a specific user automatically Cc’d to another user. Or, you can have certain users get messages in Gmail, while others get them from your on-premise mail server.

Gmail can also scan inbound mail stored on your on-premise server for spam and compliance.

Use the Routing setting to set up inbound, outbound, and internal delivery options, tailoring them for different people and teams using organizational units. Find descriptions of the various options below. For detailed information about the settings in this article, refer to Setting up routing for your domain or organization.

Before you begin: Add mail routes

Before you set up any routing and delivery settings, create a list of mail routes in your Google Admin console. Follow the instructions in Add mail routes for advanced Gmail delivery.

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Route incoming email

You can route incoming messages with different delivery methods. If your organization is using Gmail only, use direct delivery (the default configuration). Gmail delivers messages addressed to users, to the recipient's inbox. Messages sent to users who aren't in your domain are removed. You can optionally set up a catch-all address for these misaddressed messages.

If your organization uses an on-premise mail server for storing and sending email, Gmail processes incoming messages first. Gmail filters for spam and other problem messages, then routes messages to the on-premise server.

Route messages with split delivery

Use split delivery to deliver incoming messages to a Gmail mailbox or to on-premise system inbox, depending on the recipient. If some of your users use Gmail and others use a different mail system, consider using split delivery. For example, you might need to store messages sent to your legal department on an on-premise mail server.

Migration note: If you're migrating to Gmail from a legacy server, use split delivery to test Gmail with a subset of users. During the testing, the MX records for your domain point to Gmail. Users who have been added in the Admin console get messages in their Gmail inboxes. Set up a catch-all routing rule for unregistered users who need to get messages from the legacy mail server. Learn more in Options for adding users.

Set up split delivery

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGmailand thenRouting.
  3. On the Routing tab, scroll to Routing.
  4. Click setup or Add Another Rule. The Ad setting box opens.
  5. For Email messages to affect, select Inbound, or Internal-receiving, or both.
  6. Under For the above types of messages..., select Modify message.
  7. Under Modify message, scroll to Route and click the Change route box.
  8. Under Change route, select an external server from the list.
  9. Click Show options.
  10. For Account types to affect, check the Unrecognized/Catch-all box.
  11. (Optional) If you want to apply the rule only to specific senders and recipients, click Show options and select one or more Envelope filter options.
  12. At the bottom of the Add setting box, click Save.
Route messages with dual delivery

Set up dual delivery when you need to deliver messages to 2 or more inboxes. For example, users can receive messages in a Gmail inbox and another inbox, for example an inbox on an on-premise mail server. Get detailed steps to Set up mail dual delivery.

Set up a catch-all address

A catch-all address ensures that messages sent to an incorrect email address for a domain are still received.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGmailand thenRouting.
  3. On the Routing tab, scroll to Routing.
  4. Click Configure or Add Another Rule. The Add setting box opens.
  5. For Email messages to affect, check the Inbound box.
  6. Under For the above type of messages..., select Modify message.
  7. Under Envelope recipient, check the Change envelope recipient box.
  8. Select Replace username and enter a new username.
  9. Scroll down and click Show options.
  10. Under Account types to affect: 
    1. Check the Unrecognized/Catch-all box.
    2. Uncheck the Users and Groups boxes.
  11. (Optional) If you want to apply the rule only to specific senders and recipients, click Show options and select one or more Envelope filter options.
  12. At the bottom of the Add setting box, click Save.
Route messages to additional recipients

Use multiple routing settings to automatically forward messages to other recipients. You can then create separate policies for each user.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGmailand thenRouting.
  3. On the Routing tab, scroll to Routing.
  4. Click Configure or Add Another Rule. The Add setting box opens.
  5. For email messages to affect, select Inbound, or Internal-receiving, or both.
  6. Under For the above types of messages..., select Modify message.
  7. Under Also deliver to, check the Add more recipients box:
    1. In the Recipients table, click Add
    2. At the top of the settings box, confirm that Basic is selected. 
    3. Enter the recipient’s email address and click Save.
  8. (Optional) If you want to apply the rule only to specific senders and recipients, click Show options and select one or more Envelope filter options.
  9. At the bottom of the Add setting box, click Save.
Set up non-Gmail mailbox delivery
Note: Message Center and Quarantine Summary are deprecated. For more information on how to manage spam when Message Center is no longer available, go to Manage Spam Messages.

Use the Non-Gmail mailbox setting on the Routing tab to route non-spam messages to an on-premise server, and hold spam in a message center or quarantine report. This setting has more features than routing rules.

Your users can decide if the messages aren't spam and should be sent to the on-premise server. Users sign in to Message Center or review reports that list their spam messages. Then they decide which messages are safe and can be sent to their non-Gmail mailbox. These users don't have access to Gmail. They get their messages from the on-premise mail server.

Compliance routing

Content compliance and objectionable content

You might want some messages sent in a specific way. For example, you might want to route messages with certain types content to your legal department.

Set up a new primary destination, or add destinations, that match specific text strings or patterns. For example, set up a content match on the word confidential, and change the primary destination to a server that supports encryption.

Learn more about content compliance and objectionable content.

Attachment compliance

To define a new primary destination, or add destinations, for messages that match a specific attachment type, use the Attachment compliance setting on the Compliance tab. For example, you can set up a second destination so any message with image attachments is also delivered to your Human Resources team.

Learn how to Set up rules for attachment compliance.

Require a more secure connection before routing mail

You can require mail to be transmitted through TLS when users match specified domains and email addresses.

Set up TLS compliance setting by the organizational unit, and for inbound and outbound mail. If a specified domain doesn't support TLS, incoming mail is rejected and outbound mail isn't sent.

Learn how to Set up TLS compliance.

Note: If you set up an outbound gateway server that uses TLS, outbound messages on the enforced TLS list will be sent to domains that don’t support TLS.

Route outbound mail

Send all mail through a gateway server

To route outbound messages, set up an outbound gateway server. A gateway server usually processes the outbound messages in some way before delivering them. 

Learn more in Set-up an outbound gateway.

Set up SMTP relay service to route mail through the Gmail server

If your organization uses a non-Gmail server, such as Microsoft or an SMTP service, you can set up the SMTP relay service to route outgoing mail through Gmail.

Use the SMTP relay service setting to filter messages for spam and viruses before they reach external recipients. This setting also lets you apply mail security settings in your Admin console to outgoing messages. Learn more about setting up SMTP relay.

Troubleshoot routing setup

When routes conflict

You can set up a domain-wide routing policy for incoming messages. You can also define delivery routes based on a message’s content or attachments. To learn which routing setting takes precedence, go to Tailor Gmail settings for your organization.

If there’s a conflict with legacy routing controls, any routing settings described here will override any legacy settings. Learn more about Email routing and delivery.

If message routing or delivery is unsuccessful

If a message is routed from a Gmail or Google Workspace server to an external recipient server and the connection can't be made, Gmail holds the message. Reasons for a failed connection include timeout, refusal, or 400-series error.

Gmail tries to resend the message every few minutes, for up to 7 days. After 7 days, the message is returned to sender.

If you add a new server while Gmail is trying to resend a message, the message is routed to the original server, not the new one. 

If there’s a 500-series error for the message, the message is rejected immediately. 

Learn more at About SMTP error messages and SMTP error reference

 


Google, Google Workspace, and related marks and logos are trademarks of Google LLC. All other company and product names are trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

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