If Only Apple Would Let You Use Your Own Domain for iCloud Email…

Apple has been very clear recently about how they deal with personal data, and how the company is not going to play along with the likes of Facebook and others who consider users to be products. With the new anti-tracking features rolling out in Safari, and Apple’s moves to prevent the sharing of personal data through apps, the company is enhancing its reputation as one that will protect its users.

Many people use iCloud for email, but Apple could enhance iCloud so many more could use the service: they could allow users to host their own domains on iCloud. The company did this in the past, with its MobileMe service, a precursor to iCloud. But if they were to allow this now, lots of users would be able to move their email hosting from Google, Microsoft, and others to iCloud, with the knowledge that their emails wouldn’t be read in order to serve ads to users.

I’d love this; my personal email domain is currently hosted on Google because of the company’s performance and excellent spam filtering, but, even if Google may not scan all personal email that’s not going through its free Gmail service, I feel uncomfortable having my email hosted there. I am currently looking for a replacement.

If Apple had this feature, I’d gladly entrust them with my email, especially since I’m already paying them for additional iCloud storage, and it would centralize two services with one provider.

Will Apple do this again? They’d get people to pay more for storage, and perhaps they could charge a fee to host domains as well. But they probably wouldn’t want to do this. It’s a lot of hassle, and there’s probably a lot of support involved. But it would be good for Apple’s reputation.

9 thoughts on “If Only Apple Would Let You Use Your Own Domain for iCloud Email…

  1. Rackspace mail is a good email provider. Fastmail is another good one. There’s also something called mailcheap, which I haven’t had a chance to try out yet.

    That all said, we can’t really escape Google because we send emails to those addresses.

  2. Of course it’s nothing to do with who is actually ‘hosting’ the mailbox. That can be anywhere, although no reason why Apple couldn’t do that too. The big issue currently is that you CANNOT send an email through Apple’s SMTP servers without Apple looking in the email, checking that the ‘From’ address is your iCloud address and changing it if it is not. I use my own domain and all emails need to be sent From my address @ that domain. But if I send it via Apple’s SMTP servers, the email is MODIFIED so that it appears to the recipient that it came ‘From’ my iCloud address and NOT my own domain address that I decided is what I wanted to use.

    I think this is in fact quite outrageous behaviour and should be made illegal. It should NOT be allowed for any email service like this to actually edit and change the content of the message, even a header that already exists. They obviously have to be able to add headers, but who a message is From is crucial information, as specified by the sender and it is NOT acceptable that email handlers change this to suit their own greed.

    Apple is of course not the only organisation that does this. They all want to make all messages they handle appear to be From their wonderful domain, but this is not right.

    My solution is to use Apple’s iCloud IMAP servers to collect my email, but I send through my broadband provider’s SMTP servers as they, quite correctly, do NOT futz with my messages. But even that is fraught with Apple gotchas…

    Mail.app tries to prevent you from specifying alternative SMTP servers. I’ll re-phrase that. It DOES prevent you from doing this for any iCloud type accounts. They have coded this app to specifically NOT allow any alternative SMTP server for outgoing mail, so you HAVE to use Apple’s SMTP servers and they change the From address. Tossers. Sorry, but this form of control and manipulation simply to suit their never ending greed annoys me intensely.

    All is not lost however. It is possible to use Apple’s iCloud email service just via IMAP, in which case any email client can be used and in this case, even Apple’s Mail.app accounts can be configured to use different SMTP servers. So in MacOS and iOS you have your iCloud accounts handling your Calendars, Notes etc but NOT email. Then set up a basic IMAP email account for each actual iCloud account (as the iCloud servers will still be actually receiving your email).

    Since all your iCloud accounts are still shown in Mail.app, even though email is turned off for them (well done Apple, brilliant idea that is) you will see apparently duplicated accounts. The iCloud type account (that is turned OFF for email) and the IMAP type account that you actually use for email. This is only in Preferences though so doesn’t get in the way in normal use, but it is all so much more of a faff than if Apple simply allowed us to send From any address and not insist on restricting us to iCloud addresses.

    I’ve been waiting for this since the introduction of iCloud. Fortunately, I’m not holding my breath.

    • Look up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Allowing you to use their servers to send mail from your own domain would be against good email practices and would trigger SPAM filtration methods on the recipient servers.

      Rather than just outright preventing you from sending emails, they are very clear that emails sent using your apple ID credential will originate from that same email address.

  3. That’s interesting. Does the ‘From’ address they use as a replacement match the address you’re using for SMTP authentication? If so, that seems more reasonable.

    Many other providers simply refuse to send the email and return an smtp error indicating a sender mismatch if the from-address domain doesn’t match a permitted sender.

    It seems like you’re jumping through a lot of hoops just to use iCloud.

    Rackspace & Fastmail both allow you to use your own domain. Rackspace allows full spoofing of the from address. I’m not sure about Fastmail, but the spoofing wouldn’t be necessary if they are properly hosting your domain.

    Another option to consider is Office365. You’re probably already paying for a subscription and adding email hosting doesn’t cost much more.

  4. Ditto for Fastmail.com. I’ve been there for over 10 years. They’re currently hosting one of my domains, and popping mail from another two until I get the round tuit to move them to FM. The webmail interface works well, they provide 600? aliases/personalities on their domains, caldav and carddav syncing, plus file space with static web hosting (with traffic limits) and (very) simple automatic photo galleries. They can do simple filtering easily, and complex filtering if you’re willing to learn about Sieve. They also contribute to the open source community, and have a wonderful advent-calendar blog every year about behind the scenes stuff.

    I don’t like their spam filtering as much as I like Spam Sieve, though it’s not terrible. I keep Mail open on my server mac for that and some filtering with Mail Tags (which I’ve had for ages anyway so haven’t spent much time on Sieve). But I use the FM web interface for actual mail reading. Unlike Mail, it supports plain-text mode so I can actually read my mail.

    $50/month if you want the domain hosting, and worth every penny.


    gandi.net domain hosting also offers what looks like comprehensive email services if you have a domain there, but I haven’t used them. I do want to try it though, so next domain I get will be there.

    As for free email services–mail service is a pita to administer, and somewhat expensive. Anyone who does a good job of it is either going to charge a fair price either upfront or hidden in other fees, collect and sell as much of your privacy as possible, and/or cut corners so that it’s not a good service.

  5. I’ve got all of my email and cloud storage through Microsoft, yet I am a happy Apple user for computer/phone. I would be thrilled if Apple would support custom domain names for email addresses. If that were to ever happen, I’d ditch Microsoft in a heartbeat and put all my eggs in the Apple basket.

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