Email routing and delivery options for Google Workspace

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

For example, you might have incoming messages sent to an unknown address routed to a specific mailbox. Or, you might want messages addressed to a specific person automatically Cc’d to another person. You can have some people get their messages in Gmail and other people get email from your on-premise email server.

Gmail can also scan inbound message 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. 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.

Route incoming email

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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 email 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 email system, consider using split delivery. For example, you might need to store messages sent to your legal department on an on-premise email server.

Migrating to Gmail. You can also use split delivery when you migrate to Gmail from a legacy server. Use split delivery with a subset of users to verify Gmail delivery is working as expected. During testing, MX records for your domain point to Gmail, and your registered Google Workspace users get email in their Gmail inboxes. For unregistered users who need to get messages from the legacy email server, set up a catch-all routing rule. 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. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" 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.  In the Add setting box, take these steps:
     
    Setting options What to do
    Required: Enter a name or description for the new rule. You can't save the new rule if this field is empty.
    Email messages to affect

    Check the Inbound box, the Internal-receiving box, or both.

    For above type of messages
    1. Click the menu "" and select Modify message.
    2. Click the Change route box.
    3. Under Change route, click the menu "" and select the external server where you'll deliver the affected messages.
    4. Scroll down, and click Show options.
    Options
    1. Under Account types to affect, check the Unrecognized/Catch-all box. The Users and Groups boxes should be unchecked.
    2. (Optional) To apply this setting only to senders or recipients that you specify:
      • Under Envelope filter, check one or both boxes.
      • Click the menu "" and select an option for matching sender and recipient addresses.
      • Enter an email address, pattern, or group to match.
      • Repeat for all senders and recipients.
  6. 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 email server. Get detailed steps to Set up mail dual delivery.

Set up a catch-all address

A catch-all email address gets incorrectly addressed messages sent to your domain. If someone sends a message to a user that doesn't exist at your domain, or sends an incorrectly addressed message to your domain, the message is delivered to the catch-all address.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

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

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" 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.  In the Add setting box, take these steps:
     
    Setting options What to do
    Required: Enter a name or description for the new rule. You can't save the new rule if this field is empty.
    Email messages to affect Check the Inbound box.
    For above type of messages
    1. Click the menu "" and select Modify message.
    2. Check the Change envelope recipient box.
    3. Select the Replace recipient option and enter your catch-all email address.
    4. Scroll down, and click Show options.
    Options
    1. Under Account types to affect, check the Unrecognized/Catch-all box. The Users and Groups boxes should be unchecked.
    2. (Optional) To apply this setting only to senders or recipients that you specify:
      • Under Envelope filter, check one or both boxes.
      • Click the menu "" and select an option for matching sender and recipient addresses.
      • Enter an email address, pattern, or group to match.
      • Repeat for all senders and recipients.
  6. 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. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" 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.   In the Add setting box, take these steps:
     
    Setting options What to do
    Required: Enter a name or description for the new rule. You can't save the new rule if this field is empty.
    Email messages to affect

    Check the Inbound box, the Internal-receiving box, or both.

    For above type of messages
    1. Click the menu "" and select Modify message.
    2. Under Also deliver to, check the Add more recipients box.
    3. Beneath the Recipients table, click Add.
    4. At the top of the settings box, confirm that Basic is selected.
    5. Enter the email address of the new recipient and click Save. Repeat this for each new recipient.
    Options

    (Optional) To apply this setting only to senders or recipients that you specify:

    1. Under Envelope filter, check one or both boxes.
    2.  Click the menu "" and select an option for matching sender and recipient addresses.
    3. Enter an email address, pattern, or group to match.
    4. Repeat for all senders and recipients.
  6. 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 email server.

Compliance routing

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Content compliance and objectionable content

You might want to send some messages in a specific way, based on the content in those messages. For example, you might want to route messages with specific types of content to your legal department.

Set up a new primary destination or add more destinations. Then create a rule that sends messages to those destinations when message content matches specific text strings or patterns. For example, set up a content match for the word confidential. Then, change the primary destination to a server that securely stores confidential data.

Learn more about routing messages for content compliance and objectionable content.

Attachment compliance

You might want to send messages to certain destinations based on the type of attachments the message has. 

Use the Attachment compliance setting on the Compliance tab to set up a new primary destination or add more destinations. Then create a rule that sends messages with specified attachments to those destinations. 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 email

You can require that messages to or from certain domains or email addresses are sent using TLS.

Set up TLS compliance setting for inbound and outbound email for the organizational unit. If a domain you specify doesn't support TLS, incoming email is rejected and outbound email 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 are sent to domains that don’t support TLS.

Route outbound email

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Send all email 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 email 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 email 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 email security settings in your Admin console to outgoing messages. Learn more about setting up SMTP relay.

Troubleshoot routing setup

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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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