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Manage emails effectively at scale

All About Google Workspace Email Forwarding

Jan 17, 2024
    |    
11 min read
    |    
Hiver HQ
Madhuporna

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Google Workspace (formerly G-suite) is like having a digital toolbox. You find everything you need inside it: email, calendar, documents, and more. It’s built for individuals and businesses wanting to work smarter and in a more efficient manner.

Out of all the beneficial features Google workspace provides, one that stands out is email forwarding.

Google Workspace email forwarding ensures the right emails find their way to the correct inboxes effortlessly. Efficient email forwarding means no missed opportunities. It means staying connected, always.

In this guide, we’ll go in-depth into the world of Google Workspace email forwarding. We’ll explore its benefits, see how to set it up and make a case for why it’s crucial for efficient communication.

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What is Email Forwarding in Google Workspace?

Email forwarding in Google Workspace is a feature that allows you to automatically send incoming emails from one account to another, so that users or administrators can redirect messages to the desired inbox seamlessly.

Automation is a crucial feature in Google workspace email forwarding that sets it apart from the regular email forwarding. You can set up automation rules so that emails are forwarded to desired inbox without manual intervention. 

For example, imagine you’re running a business with multiple departments, and you have a generic email, [email protected]. Customers might send queries related to sales, support, or billing to this address. 


Using Google Workspace’s email forwarding, you can set rules so that any email mentioning “purchase” or “price” automatically gets forwarded to the sales team ([email protected]),while emails with “help” or “issue” go directly to the support team ([email protected]). It ensures that each department gets relevant emails promptly, streamlining operations. 

Leave no email unattended in your Gmail InboxSee how

Types of Email Forwarding in Google Workspace

Google Workspace offers multiple ways to do email forwarding. Let’s find out what they are.

1. User-Level Email Forwarding

User-Level Email Forwarding is a self-service tool. It allows individual Google Workspace users to determine a destination for their incoming emails other than their primary inbox.

For example, let’s say you are working for a business’s support team. And you are gearing up for a vacation. Now, you wouldn’t want to return to an overflowing inbox, with queries needing immediate attention, right? To manage this, you can use user-Level Email Forwarding.

By setting this up, you can ensure that during your vacation, every email that reaches your professional inbox is simultaneously forwarded to a colleague. This way, the team stays agile, responding to support queries efficiently, and ensuring no query is missed.

Why is User-Level Email Forwarding Beneficial?

  • Personal Autonomy: In an age where customization is key, User-Level Email Forwarding hands the reins of email management back to individual users. Each employee or team member knows their workflow best, and this feature allows them to tailor their email flow accordingly.
  • Agility in Response: Especially in dynamic business environments, quick response time can be the difference between landing a deal or missing out. By forwarding emails to a currently active colleague, businesses can ensure that important emails are promptly addressed, even in an employee’s absence.
  • Flexibility: Not every email need is permanent. Perhaps there’s a temporary project or a short-term collaboration that requires a specific email flow. User-Level Email Forwarding offers the flexibility to modify forwarding preferences as situations change.
  • Reduced Risk of Missed Emails: It’s not uncommon for emails to get buried under a pile of other messages, especially when employees are away or when the email volume is high. Forwarding to another account, be it a secondary work account or a colleague’s, can serve as a safeguard against such oversights.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: In projects where multiple members need to be in the loop, forwarding emails ensures that everyone stays informed. While group emails are an option, forwarding can be a more streamlined approach, especially when only specific emails are of relevance to all.

How to set up User Level Email Forwarding?

  • The first step is to open your Gmail account in a browser.
  • On the top right, you’ll see a gear icon. Clicking it will reveal a dropdown where you can select ‘See all settings.’
  • Within settings, there’s a tab labeled “Forwarding and POP/IMAP.” Selecting this will present various email handling options.
  • Here, users can input the email address they want their incoming emails to be forwarded to. After adding, a confirmation email is sent to the specified address.
  • Once the forwarding address is confirmed, users can select it from the list, ensuring future emails are redirected as desired.

2. Admin-Level Email Forwarding (Global Forwarding)

Admin-Level Email Forwarding, often referred to as Global Forwarding, is a powerful feature in Google Workspace. It allows domain administrators to set email redirection rules that can apply to multiple user accounts, specific departments, or even the entire organization.

For instance, in a business setup, employees come and go, departments get restructured, and roles shift. In a typical scenario, let’s say a key project manager transitions out of a company. 

But, the influx of mail to their account won’t stop. Here, Global Forwarding becomes crucial. Instead of these emails going unread or piling up, an admin can set a rule to auto-forward all incoming messages from the former employee’s inbox to their replacement, ensuring business continuity.

Why is Global Forwarding Beneficial?

  • Business Continuity: When employees leave or change roles, their emails can be rerouted to ensure no communication gaps.
  • Centralized Management: Instead of relying on individual users to set up forwarding, admins can manage these settings centrally, ensuring consistency and adherence to company policies.
  • Time Efficiency: Setting up global forwarding rules for specific scenarios or departments saves time compared to adjusting settings for each individual account.
  • Enhanced Security: By controlling where emails go, especially sensitive ones, organizations can better guard against information breaches.
  • Consistency in Communication: If a company decides, for instance, that all customer feedback should be collated by a particular team, global forwarding ensures all such emails head to one designated point.
How to Use Google Groups for Effective Business Collaboration


How to Setup Global Forwarding?

  • Google Workspace administrators can set this feature.
  • You need access to the Google Admin Console by logging into the admin account.
  • Navigate to  ‘Apps’ and then click on ‘Google Workspace.’ Then, You’d select ‘Gmail’ and locate “Email Settings” or its equivalent based on updates.
  • Then, define Forwarding Rules. You can set up rules for specific users, groups, or domain-wide settings, choosing where incoming emails should be redirected. This will enable a default routing, due to which incoming mail will be now received by the new address.

You may also like: The Complete Guide to Set Up Google Workspace for Your Organization

3. Group-Level Email Forwarding

Group-Level Email Forwarding is a feature in Google Workspace where emails sent to a group email address, like a department or team address, get automatically distributed to individual email addresses of members in that group. It’s like sending a single email but ensuring it reaches multiple inboxes within a specific team or department.

For example, imagine launching a new product campaign. Feedback, inquiries, and leads start pouring in, all directed to [email protected]. Instead of a single individual being burdened with the influx, Group-Level Email Forwarding ensures that every member of the marketing team instantly receives these emails. This facilitates rapid, coordinated responses, and ensures that no email goes unnoticed.

Why is Group-Level Email Forwarding Beneficial?

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Teams can work together seamlessly, ensuring that everyone is on the same page without the need for redundant communication.
  • Efficient Response Management: By spreading the email load among a group, it reduces response time and prevents any single member from being overwhelmed.
  • Redundancy Prevention: Instead of forwarding or CC’ing emails to multiple team members, a single group email ensures everyone gets the message without duplication.
  • Flexibility in Team Dynamics: As teams grow or change, admins can easily add or remove members from the forwarding list, ensuring the right people always have access.
  • Streamlined Workflows: Particularly for departments like customer support or sales, where timely responses are crucial, this system ensures that someone from the team can always address incoming emails.

How to Setup Group-Level Email Forwarding?

  • You have to be a group admin or group manager to set this up. 
  • From your Google Workspace account, access Google Groups from “Google Apps”.
  • Select or create the relevant group. If the group doesn’t exist yet, create one, defining its primary email (e.g., [email protected]).
  • Click on “People” in the left panel, and then click on “Add Members”.
  • A pop-up box will appear. Admins can specify which members should receive forwarded emails and even define roles and permissions to refine the process.
  • Finally, click on “Add Members” again to save the process. 

4. Catch-All Email Forwarding

Catch-All Email Forwarding is an essential feature in Google Workspace that acts as a safety net. If someone sends an email to any address within your domain that doesn’t actually exist, instead of the email getting bounced, it is seamlessly redirected to a pre-determined inbox.


For example, let’s say a customer wants to reach out to the customer support team of your brand. But they accidentally mail their concern to “[email protected].”This is a wrong mail ID. Without catch-all forwarding, this email would be lost, potentially leading to a situation of bad customer service. But with Catch-All Email Forwarding activated, this email can land in the designated inbox (eg. [email protected]),where it can be addressed on time.


Why is Catch-All Email Forwarding Beneficial?

  • No Missed Opportunities: Captures emails even if they’re sent to incorrect addresses, ensuring businesses don’t lose out on important messages due to minor mistakes.
  • Enhanced Reputation: Clients and partners may never realize they made an error, thanks to the seamless redirection of their emails. This ensures your business retains its professional image.
  • Reduced Bounce Rates: A lower number of bounced emails can positively impact your website domain’s reputation, ensuring better email deliverability for genuine communications.
  • Streamlined Communications: The designated person managing the catch-all inbox can efficiently reroute emails to the intended recipients, maintaining fluid communication channels.
  • Backup for Human Errors: Everyone makes mistakes. This feature acts as a backup system for both internal and external email communications.


How to Set Up Catch-All Email Forwarding?

  • You have to be a Google workspace admin to set this up. 
  • Log into the Google Admin Console.
  • Navigate to Domain Settings.This is typically found under a section like ‘Apps’ or ‘Google Workspace’.
  • Activate Catch-All Forwarding: Here, you’ll need to designate the specific inbox where all misaddressed emails should be directed.

You may also like: 8 Examples of Bad Customer Service and How to Avoid Them

5. Filtered or Rule-Based Forwarding

Filtered or Rule-Based Forwarding is a feature within Google Workspace allowing users to define custom rules based on specific email criteria, such as keywords, sender address, or attachments. When an incoming email matches the predefined criteria, it is automatically forwarded to a designated address.

For example, imagine a brand frequently receiving partnership proposals and vendor communications. To expedite the proposal review process, the business can set a forwarding rule: Any email with “partnership proposal” in the subject line gets forwarded to both the CEO and the head of partnerships. This ensures timely reviews and faster decision-making.

Why is Rule-Based Forwarding Beneficial?

  • Streamlined Workflow: By auto-routing essential emails to the right departments or personnel, businesses can significantly enhance their operational efficiency.
  • Reduced Response Time: Crucial emails are not buried in crowded inboxes but are immediately directed to the appropriate parties for quick action.
  • Customization: Every business has unique needs, and this feature lets them set forwarding rules that align perfectly with their operational requirements.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: For emails that need inputs from multiple departments or team members, rule-based forwarding can ensure the right stakeholders are looped in automatically.
  • Minimized Errors: With automation in place, the chance of overlooking an important email diminishes, ensuring all key communications are addressed.
  • Efficient Data Management: Specific rule-based forwards, such as directing all invoices to the accounting department, can help in better data organization and retrieval.

How to Set Up Rule-Based Forwarding?

  • Click on the gear icon in Gmail and select “See all settings.”
  • Go to ‘Filters and Blocked Addresses’. This section allows you to create or manage your filters.
  • Click on the link that says “Create a new filter” near the bottom of the page.
  • A box will appear, prompting you to define the criteria for your filter. This can be based on several aspects:
    • From: Emails from a specific sender.
    • To: Emails addressed to a particular recipient.
    • Subject: Emails with a specific word or phrase in the subject.
    • Has the words: Emails containing specific words or phrases in the body.
    • Doesn’t have: Emails that do not contain specific words or phrases.
    • You can also choose to filter emails with attachments or based on their size.
  • Once you’ve defined your criteria, click on “Create filter.”
  • After defining your filter criteria, you’ll be prompted to select an action. To forward the email, tick the box next to “Forward it to:”
  • From the dropdown menu, choose the email address you want to forward the emails to. If the address isn’t listed, you’ll need to add a new one and verify it.
  • Once you’ve set up your forwarding action, click on “Create filter” to save it.

Safety and Security Considerations

While technologies like email forwarding significantly enhance operational efficiency, it’s equally crucial to address their security implications. 

Google Workspace offers a robust suite of tools and best practices to ensure your email forwarding remains both effective and safe. Here’s an overview:

1. Understanding Google Workspace’s Security Protocols

  • Data Encryption: Google Workspace uses encryption in transit, ensuring that your data remains secure as it moves between your device and Google servers and even while it is at rest in Google data centers.
  • Advanced Protection: Google offers the Advanced Protection Program, which provides an extra layer of security for users who are at an elevated risk of targeted online attacks.
  • Suspicious Activity Alerts: Google Workspace is built to detect any unusual activity. If anything seems off, Google Workspace is programmed to send out immediate alerts to administrators, empowering them to review and take necessary action swiftly. This feature is particularly handy in catching unintended changes or spotting potential internal threats.

2. Best Practices for Safe Email Forwarding in Google Workspace

A. Regular Audits

  • Just as you would routinely check financial statements or inventory levels, it’s vital to keep tabs on your email forwarding settings. This proactive approach will help spot and rectify any outdated or unnecessary forwarding rules.
  • Especially for businesses, having administrators oversee these audits is beneficial. They can ensure that company-wide forwarding rules align with business needs and pose no security risks.

B. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

  • 2FA works by requiring a second form of verification in addition to your password. This could be a code sent to your phone or a physical security key. It’s an effective deterrent against unauthorized account access attempts.
  • Particularly when making adjustments to forwarding rules, having 2FA enabled ensures that changes are genuinely made by the account holder.

C.External Forwarding Alerts

  • Emails, especially sensitive business ones, being forwarded to external domains can be a red flag. By setting up alerts, you can be instantly informed of such actions, allowing for quick intervention if the forwarding wasn’t intentional.
  • These alerts are also essential to identify and combat potential phishing attempts or other security threats.

D.Educate Team Members

  • Often, security breaches happen due to a lack of knowledge. Organize regular training sessions or workshops to educate employees about the significance of secure email forwarding practices.
  • Whenever there are updates or changes in the email system or forwarding features, ensure that the team is made aware.

E.Monitor Traffic Patterns

  • Set up systems to observe email traffic patterns. If there’s a sudden spike in forwarded emails or unexpected bulk forwards, it should raise an alert.
  • Tools and extensions are available that can automatically perform these checks, providing real-time insights.

F.Review Domain Lists

  • Maintain a list of trusted domains. Only allow forwarding to these domains, or at the least ensure there’s an additional verification step if emails are being forwarded to non-whitelisted domains.

Recommended Read: 23 Email Management Best Practices and Tips

3. Email Forwarding Loops and How to Avoid Them

An email forwarding loop is a recursive cycle that occurs when email messages are indefinitely routed between two or more email accounts due to interconnected or overlapping forwarding rules. This repetitive sequence can lead to system overloads and potential data losses, as the email message becomes trapped in an endless loop, unable to reach a designated endpoint.

How to avoid creating loops?

  • Monitor Forwarding Chains: Be aware of how you’re setting up forwarding chains. If you’re forwarding email A to email B, ensure email B isn’t forwarding back to email A.
  • Use Warning Systems: Some email systems, including Google Workspace, can detect and warn users of potential email loops. Make sure these warnings are not ignored.
  • Regular Reviews: Periodically check your forwarding rules and the rules of major groups within your organization. Keeping tabs can help detect and rectify loops early.

Advanced Email Forwarding Tips and Tricks

For businesses using Google Workspace, mastering email forwarding can greatly enhance communication efficiency. But beyond the basics, there are some advanced techniques that can help optimize your email management efforts. 

1. Utilizing Filters for Selective Forwarding

Navigating through heaps of emails can be cumbersome. But Google Workspace offers a solution that many businesses find invaluable: the ability to selectively forward emails based on specific criteria. 

So, instead of forwarding all emails, why not be selective based on your requirements?

  • Specific sender-based forwarding: Through Gmail’s filtering system, you can identify particular senders whose emails should be automatically forwarded. This ensures that no communication from these crucial contacts gets overlooked. For instance, an email from a major client could be instantly forwarded to both the sales and management teams, guaranteeing swift responses and optimal client relations.
  • Keyword-Based Forwarding: Gmail allows you to set up filters based on words or phrases. So, when an email arrives containing terms like “urgent”, “invoice”, or “contract”, it can be immediately forwarded to the right team or individual. 
  • Attachment-based forwarding: If, in your business, emails with attachments are circulated among teams, set a rule for attachment-based emails. Using filters, you can ensure emails with attachments aren’t buried beneath other less pressing emails.

2. Integration with Other Google Workspace Tools

Google Workspace’s strength lies in its cohesive ecosystem. By interlacing email forwarding with its suite of tools, businesses can foster a seamless flow of information. Let’s explore the key integrations:

  • Calendar Integration: When meeting invites, or reminders land in your inbox, you can set up forwarding rules to direct them to a shared team calendar.
  • Drive Integration for Attachments: Configure email rules to detect attachments and then automatically save them to predetermined folders in Drive. This way, everything will be neatly categorized in the drive.
  • Chat Integration: Important emails can be forwarded to Google Chat rooms for immediate team discussion.

Recommended read: 7 Customer Service Tools to Integrate with Google Workspace

Challenges with Google Workspace Email Forwarding

While Google Workspace email forwarding offers a multitude of benefits, it’s not without its share of challenges. It is important to understand these challenges to minimize potential pitfalls.

  • Complexity in Management: As the number of forwarding rules and filters increases, management can become complex, especially for large organizations.Incorrectly set rules or overlapping filters can lead to missed emails or incorrect forwarding.
  • Security Concerns: External forwarding might inadvertently expose sensitive information to unintended recipients. There’s an increased risk of data breaches, especially if forwarded emails end up in the wrong hands.
  • Forwarding Loops: Setting up interdependent forwarding rules can result in loops where emails get endlessly bounced between addresses. Essential emails can get trapped in these loops, causing mail servers to overload and critical communications to be missed.
  • Clutter and Storage Issues: Unfiltered email forwarding can result in the receiving account getting cluttered with unnecessary emails. This could lead to essential emails being overlooked. Also, the accumulation of forwarded emails, especially with large attachments, can quickly consume the available storage space.
  • Risk of Losing Original Metadata: When emails are forwarded, there’s a chance that certain metadata (like original sender details) could get altered or lost. This can pose challenges in tracing email origins or authenticating sender identities, especially in forensic email investigations.
  • Potential for Miscommunication: If employees aren’t aware of set forwarding rules, they might be surprised or confused when their emails get redirected. This can lead to misunderstandings or even conflict within teams, especially if sensitive emails end up with unintended recipients.

The Way Forward: A Real-Time Email Management Platform

Google Workspace email forwarding might seem daunting, but with the right strategies and knowledge, it becomes a powerful tool in any business’s communication arsenal. But email forwarding alone won’t cut it. Your business should focus on optimizing email management for maximum efficiency.

This is where Hiver comes into play. A seamless solution built for teams, Hiver transforms your Google Workspace into a collaborative hub, streamlining email workflows without the need for constant forwarding. 

From shared inboxes to automations to actionable analytics, Hiver ensures that your team stays on top of every email – without having them leave their Gmail Inbox. 

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A B2B marketer, Madhuporna is passionate about breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-digest nuggets with a stroke of her pen (read keyboard). Her expertise lies in crafting research-driven content around customer service, customer experience, IT and HR. When off the clock, you'll find her binge-watching suspense thrillers or basking in nature.

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