In the early days of Google Apps the only way to sign up was by linking to an existing Google Account, in the format of email@example.com. If you have one of those accounts, there is no way to tell Google that you are now firstname.lastname@example.org. This means that Google Apps thinks of your original @gmail and new, @domain identities and two different ones. You can directly access (via URL) your own Calendar, Docs, Groups ..etc. all under your own domain, however, programs that need to access those apps only find the other version, attached to your @gmail.com account. A simple example is trying to save an event from Upcoming.org, Zvents, or any other services: there’s no way to use them with your own domain.
Even the Google Groups is messed up: when I am logged in as email@example.com, Groups that I am a member of won’t recognize me. I actually have to have duplicate identities created in Google Groups: one to be able to send email (my own domain) and one to be able to access Group’s other features via the browser (@gmail format).
It appears to have been (almost) fixed now. Google Account and Google Apps Account still remain to different entities, but there is a way to (almost) have them work seamlessly. The steps:
- Go to your Google Account (not Apps!), see your list of services, and remove Gmail. (see Warning at the bottom of this post)
- Enter your Google Apps email (firstname.lastname@example.org) as the new primary email address for this Google Account. Your Apps account, the one with your own domain immediately becomes the new login to Google Accounts.
For the services that exist both in public and Apps version, e.g. Calendar, Docs, the Apps version will take priority, and becomes the default. (Warning: you won’t be able to access the “public” versions anymore). For other services, that don’t have an Apps version, e.g. Groups, Reader, you still need to sign in to your “basic” Google account. This may be a little confusing, especially if, prior to deleting the Gmail-based login you used a different password. Your Google Account now has the login name from the Google Apps account (your domain), but the old password. For simplicity, you may want to change the Accounts password to be identical with the Apps password. After this, although you may be surprised at the repeated login prompts, you don’t really have to worry about when you are in Google Apps or regular, public Google services, the experiences is fairly seamless.
Why “fairly”? There are still a few dead-ends. When you are in a public-only service, e.g. Reader, Groups, and click on some of the links in the upper-left corner, e.g Calendar, Google still attempts to pull up the “old” public version, and gives you some funny error message about a “null-calendar”… just ignore it.
I’ve done the transition, and with the exception of some of these bad links appear to be able to work normally now. I can save events from third-party sites, to my Apps Calendar, Plaxo synchronizes it happily, can participate in Google Groups with my own domain email, and even Doc’s come up properly. (There is an option to merge your old Docs account with the Apps version, but for this to work, every tiny setting between the two accounts has to be identical, down to the time zone).
“This will allow Google services to recognize that [your additional email address] and your Google Account are associated (e.g. all invitations sent to this email address will automatically appear in your Google Calendar).”
For now, it seems the only benefit to doing this is for Google Calendar (although you can also then use any of your additional email addresses to sign in to your Google Account instead of using your username or Gmail address)
This may be the way to go in case you want to keep BOTH the Gmail account and the Apps email separately. (My process is a complete cutover), but it may not be a complete solution for services other than Calendar – at least for now.
- If you already removed Gmail service and want to save your content. go back to Manage Google Account, include Gmail again, and use your previous Gmail id – your content will still be there for two days.
- If all you need is the old email for archiving/search purposes, but no longer need to maintain this particular Gmail address, you can always set up another Gmail address (which will not be associated with this Google Account), use Gmail Mail Fetcher to migrate all your old stuff (this can take days), then finally do the above steps again.
Update (Aug 15, 2009): See Troy Arrington’s posts on How to use Google Groups for Businesses that are using Google Apps.
Update ( Feb 21, 2010): Google changed things around authentication a few months ago, and the above solution is breaking down in several places. While obviously never a true solution, it was a decent workaround… now it looks Google is forcing users to split their identities between a branded (own domain) and gmail.com instance. Not good … will do an update post soon. In the meantime, read this new, related post: Fixing the Google Account problem. Update to the update: wow, everyone seems to be “discovering” the problem now…. here’s Gina Trapani: Google, Gmail, and Google Apps Accounts Explained.
Update (Mar 14 2010): Perhaps we will have a solution, after all…