Migrating from Google Apps to Outlook.com

I’ve been a true Google Apps fan for years now. But for a few reasons, I really wanted to move the e-mail management part from Google Apps to Outlook.com. The reasons for the move are mainly because of this:

  1. Google Apps is not free anymore. Not a problem for me, as an existing user. But I don’t like the direction that Google is taking with this decision.
  2. I really don’t like Google’s Privacy Policy anymore.

Well, because of that, I decided to make the move. I’ve been a fan of Outlook.com since it was released, so it was the right time to make the switch. In this post, I will describe how you create your own custom domain, the DNS settings you need to make, and how you can make e-mail aliases.

Custom domain

First things first, we need to create a custom domain using http://domains.live.com. Sign in with your Live ID. Note that it can be one from your custom domain. In my case, I already had a Live ID making use of mydomain.com. Once you’re signed in, click on the ‘Add Domain‘ button. Enter your domain name, and select ‘Set up Outlook.com for my domain‘. Review and accept the next screen.


You will now get a screen with the question tho prove the ownership of this domain by creating a DNS record. Because we decided to set up Outlook.com for this domain, the first DNS record that you have to create is the MX one. To create an MX record, go to the DNS management part of your personal domain, or contact your hosting provider. The settings will look like this:


Once you’ve added the MX record, you can click on the ‘Refresh‘ button. If everything went correct, you will now be able to add some ‘Member accounts‘. Click on the ‘Add‘ button to create a member account. Enter the account name, for example ‘firstname.lastname@mypersonaldomain.com‘, a first name, last name and password. Click the OK button to add your account.

In fact, that’s all you have to do. You can go to mail.live.com and log in with your new account. Note that you will still see the old ‘hotmail’ look, but you can simply change it to Outlook.com using the options button on the right.

One import part, although for me, is the fact that if you already have a Live ID using this custom domain and you enable ‘mail’ for this custom domain, it will automatically create that user in the ‘Member Accounts. For example, I had a live ID alexander.vanwynsberghe@abc.com. This Live ID also had an Outlook.com inbox, but it was empty off course. But by creating a custom domain, and enabling the mail option on domains.live.com, it automatically created a member account ‘alexander.vanwynsberghe@abc.com’.  That’s all I had to do.


One thing that is missing from the ‘Windows Live Domains’ is the ‘Alias‘ feature. Well, in fact it does exist, it’s just not available from the interface. It’s possible to create aliases using the Admin Center SDK. After some Bing’ing (I couldn’t be the first one with this problem), I found a nice and easy solution to manage my aliases. It’s called WLALIAS. This is a command-line based tool making use if the Windows Live API.

Once you’ve downloaded the tool (version 1.5). You can add the following command to add a new alias (it will ask you to provide the Live ID you’ve been using to create the custom domain)

wlalias add memberName alias

MemberName is the Member Account from domains.live.com
Alias is the name of how your alias will look like.

After you execute this command, you will receive an email on your ‘MemberName’ account telling you that an alias has been added. To get an overview of all aliases linked to your ‘MemberName’. Execute the following command:

wlalias list memberName

You will now get a list of your aliases:


That’s it. My e-mails are now using Outlook.com, I’m happy! One thing that you also have to do off course is moving your ‘old’ Google Apps mails to Outlook.com. You can do this by enabling POP on Google Apps, and link this POP account to your Outlook.com account (but this can fail, mainly if you have lots of e-mails). Another option is to use the Outlook client. Simply add the 2 accounts (Google Apps and Outlook.com) and copy paste your folders.

Good luck!

Written by
Alexander Vanwynsberghe
Join the discussion

  • This worked for me but only after I have “undone” my earlier attempts to do this myself. In the process I created a full MS Account using the email address I wanted to use as an alias (by adding a member in the domain tools).
    I then deleted the account (using the domain tools) but the MS account got left behind.

    When I ran wlalias it said the admin password was invalid and on trying to login to my MS account using these details, it showed that the wlalias had in fact created a LINK to the remnants of the previous account and I needed to verify this before it allowed me to login fully.

    I got around this by changing the email on the unwanted account (from my custom domain to outlook.com) and then I was able to successfully run wlalias again and create the alias I wanted.

    Thanks for the tip on how to do this.

  • When I try to setup custom mail with outlook.com I do not get a screen with the question tho prove the ownership of this domain by creating a DNS record. Why? Please help! Many thanks

    • Hi Olis,

      Did you use the same steps to add a domain using domains.live.com? Normally, on that site, when you look at the top left, you should see ‘Domain Settings’. When you click this link, you will see all necessary information about the DNS settings.

      Good luck!

  • Excellent info on WLALIAS – I never knew that existed despite some Googling myself.

    I’m grandfathered into a Google Apps account and my current Windows Phone 7 device is already one of the devices syncing so I’m safe from the EAS death come 30 Jan 2013. Safe until I upgrade later this year to a Windows Phone 8 device.

    The only thing stopping me from switching is the ability to access Contacts and Calendar from other apps. Switching to Outlook.com would mean I can safely sync using WP8 but any ideas on how to get OS X’s Contacts and Calendar to sync? I tried using m.hotmail.com and m.outlook.com as an Exchange Server address but no luck connecting.

    • Hi Christopher,

      Good question! As I don’t have OS X, I can’t try it for you. But from what Google/Bing is telling me, it should be possible by using ‘m.hotmail.com’ as exchange domain. If you find a solution for it, let me know if you want!


  • Hello. I tried to use this utility but I get:

    Creating alias…The call failed with outcome: SoapException
    Error 9003: Passport error.

    How do I get around this??

    • Hi Brendan,
      Do you already have more than 5 aliases? Could be one of the reasons that it’s failing.

  • That “no draft auto save” is a big problem. The Office apps themselves allow that. I wonder if MS simply hadn’t gotten to support it in blog editing mode yet.

  • How does Microsoft’s privacy policy compare to Google’s in this context? Also, what prevents them from changing it?

  • It’s also worth noting that the WLALIAS tool will also allow you to create an alias under a different domain, so it’s possible to have user@domain1.com, user@domain2.com and user@domain3.com all pointing to the same account.

    It requires the domains to be registered as custom domains using the same the same ‘domain manager’ account at domains.live.com, but otherwise just use WLALIAS exactly as described above.

  • Thanks for your article. It worked great when I configured a custom domain on Outlook.com, but there is one piece missing from your article: how to add other users to my domain and Outlook.com. This was simple with Google Apps…but here, I have my email address setup and I want to setup one for my wife and can’t figure out how to do it. Would you mind editing your article to include this information? All the info I can find about it on the web doesn’t work, so I’m stuck for now. Thanks!

  • Just want to confirm something you mention in your article before I do the same thing. I currently have a Windows Live ID of myname@mydomain.com and I have an Outlook.com account setup for this email address. Like you, there is nothing in this Outlook.com account and it’s displayed in Settings as “SEND ONLY”.

    I plan to change the DNS pointers for “mydomain.com” from Google to Outlook.com (Hotmail)…and when I do, I’m HOPING the “SEND ONLY” status will automatically change to “SEND & RECEIVE”. Do you know if this is the case?

    Also, since the Outlook.com account is already in place with myname@mydomain.com, should I point the DNS first…or add it to domains.live.com first? Thanks!

  • When you migrate from Google Apps to Outlook.com, do you have to close the Google Apps account? Can I later go back to Google Apps? I have the 50 free accounts with Google Apps and I don’t want to loose them. But I would like to try out Outlook.com with my personal domain.


Alexander Vanwynsberghe

Belgium-based entrepreneur. Into technology, innovation and a bit of cycling and running too. Evangelist for everything related to smart-tech.