Multiple identities in one account with Apple

Over the time I tend to accumulate mail adresses and accounts. Not so long ago, I decided to switch from a multiple mail accounts to a single imap account where I aggregated all others.

I used to be an Apple user, but this switch caused me some troubles. How to specify different (legitimate) sender addresses with only one account configured ? I thought it was impossible and so decided to switch to Mozilla Thunderbird which allows you to set different sender addresses by account.

But recently, I found it was possible in and here’s how :

In your account configuration, enter a comma-separated list of adresses in the “Email Address” field.

Multiple identities for one account

Then, you’ll be able to choose which sender address should be used when writing a new mail.

Choose which adresse to use when writing a new mail

For those of you interested in my configuration, I operate a simple linux box with Postfix, Courier-Imapd and Maildrop. Then I use Fetchmail to grab mails from my different accounts and put them in my imap setup.

Drew leave a comment about a solution to have different names for each addresses. It require you edit the preferences plist file : Mac OS X Mail app config –

Sun, 05 Nov 2006 09:30 Posted in

  1. By George Razvan NICA 17/11/2006 at 08h49

    I, too, did bang my head against this for a long time, my solution being using different identities in my webmail interface for a few emails here and there. This time, ’though, I really need this on a regular basis and was about to turn my head back to Thunderbird. Not anymore. Thanks for the info, man.

  2. By Jamie Wilkinson 01/12/2006 at 21h59

    Brilliant! I’ve been using multiple IMAP accounts that all access the same account but with server settings that point to different faux-subdomains to try to replicate this, a constant headache. No more! Thanks for sharing the find.

  3. By Bart 30/12/2006 at 19h43


    I switched to thunderbird for the same reason, altough I was happy using Mac mail. I’m gonna try it immediately. Thanks.

  4. By Ted Houston 21/01/2007 at 17h28

    Thanks for info, you saved me from installing Thunderbird, that’s great! ;-)

  5. By Hank Hampel 22/01/2007 at 17h06

    Same problem here, tried to add fake accounts just to get this thing going with So thank you very much for saving me the trouble of adding even more fake accounts to my mail server!

  6. By Dude 23/01/2007 at 02h18

    Wow, this is the same reason I was using thunderbird, but I wanted to switch back so I could sync iCal and Address Book using iSync which thunderbird didn’t do well at all.

  7. By Chris 07/02/2007 at 09h05

    Superb tip! Thank you. I’ve been wondering how to do that for ages…

  8. By Thanks 11/02/2007 at 05h17

    FInally, a solution. You have just solved the ONLY problem I had with

    Thanks for posting this.

  9. By NOT solved the problem! 12/02/2007 at 18h25

    Hi everybody!
    This “hack” may help many of you. But not me. Because I have multiple addresses from DIFFERENT domains. I aggregate them on one Imap-Account. But for sending an email with another domain, I need to setup DIFFERENT outgoing SMTP-Servers. And this is NOT possible with But many of the others have this feature, like thunderbird, KMail etc.
    Sorry, that’s a major disadvantage!
    So it’s not usable…


  10. By Jonathan Tron 12/02/2007 at 21h25

    You’re right, the problem is only partially solved. It only works if you, or your sys-admin, allows to send mails for domains not managed by your SMTP.

  11. By that's no good idea... 24/02/2007 at 23h33

    Hi Jonathan, sending mails from another domain through an SMTP, which is not managing it, is no good idea! Most SPAM-Filters will recognize this and will rate this mails as spam. :-(
    This SMTP will look like an open relay (different domain sender/smtp), so in addition to that, it could happen that the SMTP-Domain will be mentioned on RBLs (RealTimeBlackLists for SPAM-Domains).
    So a real good admin will never do this ;-)


  12. By Jonathan Tron 25/02/2007 at 12h04

    CU > You’re right, it’s not a good advice for large smtp, but for home use this is not a problem. As for RBLs I’m not really a fan of these things, it’s so inaccurate and subject to errors that I’m not using it anymore… when your domains/ips got blacklisted because someone forged it and send spam as coming from you and you became blacklisted for no reason you’re lose most of your confidence on the system. Anyway I never said I’m a good admin nor does I said this solution should be used in large scale domains where “real good admin” managed the thing, but as a home solution it’s really great and so far I never encountered spam filtering refusing my emails.
    So thanks for the comment I think it’s clarified some aspect not mentioned in my initial post.

  13. By randy 06/04/2007 at 07h51

    I just posted a link to this post on my site. I have to say that it was a great find. How did you stumble upon this idea anyway?

  14. By Jonathan Tron 06/04/2007 at 09h56

    Randy, it was a typo in an account setup that leads me to this “feature”.

  15. By Jean 13/04/2007 at 13h45

    Thank! As a Mac-newbee with numerous mail identities you prevented me from switching to Thunderbird ;-)

  16. By Philipp 03/05/2007 at 11h04

    Thank you so much for this post!

  17. By Sophie G 15/05/2007 at 15h12

    I’m having problems still.. I regularly use two different names, one stage name, one passport name, and have two different email addresses with the different surnames. If I set up my account as you’ve suggested above it still asks for a name to use to describe the account – a name that gets applied to both of the email addresses, so I’m obviously only able to use just my first name for both

  18. By Jonathan Tron 15/05/2007 at 22h49

    Sophie G : yes this does not solve all problems of multiple identities.

  19. By Emilio 11/06/2007 at 23h45

    I’ve been hating for a long time because I couldn’t group my different email identities under it. Thanks for sharing this knowgledge.

  20. By 15/06/2007 at 13h12

    for different domains you should go to your dashboard and forward the mail from one domain to the mailbox of the other. You then only need to use the one address with but can send from them all.

  21. By andrea 29/06/2007 at 19h58

    thank you so much. i was seriously thinking to go back to thundebird.

  22. By Vincent 16/07/2007 at 16h13

    I have been using MailSwitch for many years now, and wrote a review of it, though I shall not plug that here. It is great for keeping domains and other things completely separate, simply switching out all the relevant / user / library files for you.

  23. By Mat 28/09/2007 at 22h42

    This was a mystery to me too! This functionality is clearly a deliberate feature and Apple should have made that more obvious.

    Cheers Jonathan

  24. By DavidL 26/10/2007 at 08h18

    Awesome. Thanks for this tip. It allows me to forward through gmail ( into Apple Mail but still be able to send mail from Apple Mail as if it was sent from

  25. By Koe 29/10/2007 at 04h20

    Dude, upgraded to Leopard and wanted to go 100% with mac mail. So icreated multiple mail boxes for each identity and then kept them offline. What a pain. Your solution is so easy.

  26. By Lee 29/10/2007 at 19h33

    This is excellent! Just switched from linux/evolution to Leopard/ and this is a very much needed feature for me. Thanks for the post!

  27. By Savard 31/10/2007 at 02h16

    This is a simple basic fix. I like it. Unfortunately, there are some other things to note… like switching signatures, and possibly your name (full vs. familiar) which is done exquisitely like Thunderbird. Now if TB were only better integrated with iCal I would switch.

    Mac developers could learn a lot from Thunderbird… not to mention TB could benefit from Apple’s development team.

  28. By Felix 02/11/2007 at 09h55

    super great tips! thank’s a lot!

  29. By Richard 04/11/2007 at 16h00

    Thanks. Works on Leopard too. I can finally make the switch from thunderbird…

  30. By mbuna 04/11/2007 at 23h59

    Very useful information. Thanks !

  31. By Chad 08/11/2007 at 18h03

    Here’s the problem I have. I do have multiple accounts and receiving them all through Mail is fine. However, when replying to an email, the default (main I think) account is the one the mail is being sent from – not necessarily the one it came in on.

    Is there a way to set up Mail so that the reply mail account matches the incoming message? I know how to manually change from one sending account to another, but can this be set up automatically?

  32. By Jorn Mineur 10/11/2007 at 14h51

    Great idea, thank you for sharing it!

  33. By Nick 16/12/2007 at 05h12

    Thanks so much!

  34. By Janik 09/01/2008 at 13h32

    From me too: Loads of thanks!

  35. By Antonio 16/01/2008 at 01h39

    And you even can choose a different name for each one, just use:

    Antonio <>, Tony <>


  36. By Jonathan Tron 16/01/2008 at 18h28

    Antonio : nice refinement

  37. By Michael Wild 25/01/2008 at 10h07

    Thanks a ton!

    Btw: I use getmail, spamassassin, maildrop and dovecot on my linux box. Works like a charm!

  38. By GJB 09/02/2008 at 03h17

    Antonio, your suggestion does not function on the version of Apple Mail included with OS 10.4.11, or 10.5.1. :-( Which versions did you find this actually worked on?

  39. By benish 11/02/2008 at 23h04

    >Is there a way to set up Mail so that the reply mail account matches the incoming message?

    It looks like in Mail 3.1 / Leopard 10.5.1 it will automatically switch the From: address to match whatever the incoming message was sent to (assuming you’ve set up your multiple email addresses as described here). A very pleasant surprise, as I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to switch back to Eudora.

    Not yet sure if there is any way to make sigs automatically match the from address…

  40. By Frank 16/02/2008 at 14h34

    Anyone able to get this working in 3.2 on 10.5.2? What exactly do you enter in which of the fields? I only can get Jonathans way running. I tried the one Antonio uses to have names switched also but that doesn’t seem to work?

  41. By Anthony 29/02/2008 at 12h48

    Thanks! You are a genius!!!

  42. By Hostile Fork 16/03/2008 at 05h22

    This is good to know! But still doesn’t solve my fundamental problem of forgetting to change the address to the right one when composing new messages…

    Apple Mail lets you pick a default, or just use the last viewed mailbox… but it doesn’t let you default to “None”. I would like to be forced to pick the appropriate address on each new message, because it’s easy to lose track when you’re looking in the unified inbox all the time.

    Anyone else who’s ever sent mail from the wrong account want to join my petition??

  43. By Mitch 15/04/2008 at 16h24

    great tip works like a charm

  44. By Simon 04/05/2008 at 15h16

    I can’t get Antonio’s way to work?

  45. By Shayne Power 29/05/2008 at 17h34

    Had some trouble getting this to work. Whenever I added a new address, saved and then came back… it had gone.

    Turns out that this “feature” is turned off if the account type is “.Mac IMAP”.

    Funnily enough, it works fine when the account is set up as plain old IMAP. So I swapped over and everything is sweet.

  46. By Dave Hughes 03/06/2008 at 08h22

    Still getting Google hits, and still solving this problem for people. Thanks Jonathan!

  47. By TQ 05/06/2008 at 01h45

    this is aweome! thanks and i have it working perfectly now!

  48. By 17/06/2008 at 06h49

    thanks man!!! great tip I`ve been trying to find out how to make such thing… thanks again very much!

  49. By Jerry Nilson 31/07/2008 at 19h08

    This certainly does not work any more. /Jerry

  50. By Jerry Nilson 31/07/2008 at 19h28

    well, it works — one just have to try with addresses not already in the from-list …. oops.

  51. By Troed 03/08/2008 at 16h56

    Many thanks for this! Found you when googling for a solution to this very problem.

  52. By Damian 07/08/2008 at 13h42

    Thank you sooo much! I would have never thought of this possibility to enter more than one email in that field… Super! :-)

  53. By Steven 08/08/2008 at 20h35

    Antonio’s refinement was clever, though I have not found a way to make this work. I have now spent about a half an hour plugging in variations (including adding the data in the plist file) to no avail. I would use this tip ALL OVER my office if only I could change the name. Perhaps inspiration will strike soon…

  54. By nargalzius 25/08/2008 at 07h20

    Is there a syntax for it to also have different sender names along with the addresses?

    something like “Name Surname” <>, “alternate name” <>, etc.

    Obviously I tried the one above and it doesn’t work, but I’m sure you get what I’m trying to say.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  55. By Jsmoove 08/09/2008 at 17h10

    i have this all setup and i’m able to select my Alias fine when sending an email. However when the recipient receives the email it is always from my original account and not the alias i selected to send from.
    Now i thought this may be a google thing, but when i set up Thunderbird the recipient always receives the email from whomever i select to send as.

    Can anyone help?
    Kind Regards

  56. By Vitorio 16/09/2008 at 23h41

    Thank you very much is exactly the answer that I’m searching for.

  57. By Bob 23/09/2008 at 07h52

    You are awesome. Thank you for posting this.

  58. By florenz 24/09/2008 at 23h09

    hi Jonathan,

    as you are already using postfix:

    you can tell postfix to choose different smarthosts… you just have to remember not to send mail from a “From” that would have to be delivered to an unreachable smarthost.


  59. By Paolo 16/10/2008 at 12h23

    Antonio just wanted to tantalise us!! :-(

  60. By Dorus 18/10/2008 at 14h58

    Thanks for your post! I almost stopped using because I couldn’t find this feature.

  61. By Jennifer 30/10/2008 at 15h35

    Hello…I know this thread is old but it is addressing an issue I am really trying to resolve…I am using APPLE mail for my gmail account, which receives my hotmail emails…It all comes over nicely to apple mail, however, when i try to change the “from” field to reflect what email it actually comes from, that works but it ALSO shows my gmail…it reads “from on behalf of” Is there a way to fix this??

  62. By Jack 31/10/2008 at 22h12

    Brilliant tip! I’ve been scratching my head on this one since making the jump to IMAP. Thanks so much for sharing!

  63. By Micah 01/12/2008 at 02h45

    Wow, this just made my day and the rest of the year! Thank you and bookmarked on Delicious!

  64. By JD 09/12/2008 at 16h10

    Under 10.5’s, you can sort of use Antonio’s trick if you leave the “real name” field empty…which is not much of a solution, but it’s something, I guess.

  65. By drew 10/12/2008 at 07h38

    A way to get Antonio’s method working by editing the plist can be found here:

  66. By anthonyl 12/12/2008 at 14h40

    I have a related problem

    Apple Mail Wrong Proper Name for an email account, that is wrong Full name associated with an email addresses. I have on one computer login in Leopard Apple Mail around 10 email accounts about 1/2 mine and my wives.

    For one of the accounts it seems her name is being associated with one of my email addresses despite it being correct in Mail setup and the Apple Address book. I even checked all the Apple Mail remembered cached recipients by typing in our names and removing them from recently sent recipients. This happened to be once before with a different account or two and I thought removing it from the Previous Addressees and adding it correctly to the Apple address book resolved.

    It is sort of maddening that it does not simply follow what is in Apple Mail set up?? Anyone else ever see this?

  67. By Henri-Pierre Robin 09/01/2009 at 16h45

    Simply a warm THANK YOU from Belgium !

  68. By Aaron 27/01/2009 at 23h55

    For this to work in Gmail you have to also add the addresses in Settings > Accounts > “Send mail as”.

    Thanks for the tip! I always thought this was impossible.

  69. By BJL 24/04/2009 at 13h19

    Shit that was easy, thanks!!

  70. By S 02/05/2009 at 14h34

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. So easy!

  71. By spider 04/05/2009 at 12h43

    Found this post through Google: thank you a lot! It worked perfectly!

  72. By tonia 18/05/2009 at 00h20

    wana kiss you… ;)

  73. By Arjan 09/06/2009 at 22h25

    Thx! your’re a genius!

  74. By Anssi 15/06/2009 at 15h05

    Brilliant, thanks for the tip! I just found this post via Google… I really prefer to use native tools, since especially Mozilla project’s stuff seems extra slow on Macs. Too bad there’s apparently no hope for Safari to match the functionality of Firefox + extensions. I must have adblock+, flashblock, customizegoogle, tab mix plus at the very least…

  75. By Mikey 24/06/2009 at 16h42

    Wow… How long did I spend trying to figure this out and it is something SOOOO simple. Thanks a lot, you made my day! If only google had thought to include this in their instructions (or if they did then they could have put it somewhere I could have found it)!


  76. By Philippe 13/07/2009 at 13h42


    Thanks a lot!

  77. By Sebastian Buks 21/07/2009 at 08h39

    WOW, finally! Thanks a lot. As usual a brilliant Apple way but not that obvious after all years stuck with M$

  78. By כלי דם 28/07/2009 at 23h22

    I have to join all the previous praises, mate… That was a great solution. I feel like an idiot for not discovering it by myself.

  79. By Kreig Zimmerman 29/09/2009 at 22h04

    Oh thank you! If only this was somehow documented better, a lot of headaches on my part would have been avoided… :)

  80. By Cindy 02/10/2009 at 03h34


  81. By Atze 02/10/2009 at 10h13

    great to know!

    It stills shows 1 ‘full name’ for multiple email addresses.

    How should I change the setup, so that I see different ‘full names’ for different email addresses.

    I know just ‘delete’ the full name from the account setup, that works. However, it is not a nice solution.

    Who can help?


  82. By Andy H 09/10/2009 at 08h11

    Superb tip. Thank-you very much.

  83. By Choucrouteman 11/12/2009 at 14h09

    Internet is just great. 2 seconds and I found exactly what I was looking for.

    Thank you Jonathan, I never thought there was such a simple solution :-)

  84. By Chris Nehren 20/12/2009 at 00h19

    Just what I needed, thank you.

  85. By Mark Goodhand 26/06/2010 at 12h43

    Excellent tip. Thanks very much.

  86. By Louis Muhammad 04/09/2010 at 16h32

    Thanks! This worked like a charm. Been banging my head trying to figure this out for weeks, and your solution really solved our problems.

    I’m buying lunch when i’m in your city :)

  87. By Sabine 22/12/2010 at 21h59

    So simple. Thanks for posting this.

  88. By sproot 15/01/2011 at 18h25

    Still the only way four years later!
    Cheers Bud!

    Less impressed with Apple though :(

  89. By Tom 19/01/2011 at 04h05

    Still works (Jan 2011). I’m embarrassed it’s taken me about a year to find the right Google query. When I did, this page was at the top. Shame on Apple for making it so difficult.

  90. By louis 27/02/2011 at 11h46

    if you are having trouble with the multiple identities from different domains and your email keeps sending from the same primary account email address, all you need to do is add the smtp server to the list of outgoing servers. you can do this by going to into your primary account preference, and going to the outgoing server drop-down list. then manually add the other outgoing server. you do not need to add the alternate account to Apple Mail or have the account be active to do this. then, when you want to send an email from another email address, just open up a new email, and be sure to select your alternate email from the list as well as the corresponding alternate smtp server that you just added. (you can configure your email message to show the outgoing server by clicking on the customize view button on the left side of new email message). works for me!

  91. By MymnDymnQuisy 02/04/2011 at 03h45

    Content inform appropriate me to beget bank

  92. By Paco 10/04/2011 at 09h15

    Drew’s tip is amazing! Thank you! to anyone interested. Don’t be intimidated by having to edit the plist. I’d never done it before but the step by step was very simple and clear. worked like a charm!

  93. By Anna 26/05/2011 at 06h02

    Thank you for the great tip! Nice post.

    Anyway, you say that:

    Not so long ago, I decided to switch from a multiple mail accounts to a single imap account where I aggregated all others.

    I do the same in my MacMail app. I have 3 different email accounts: 1 gmail + 2 business email accounts from different domains, and can send as any of them (with that account’s name and signature), drag emails between the account inboxes, organise them in shared folders and so on. So if I receive a business email on my private account then I drag it into the business account it belongs to, to keep my correspondence in order. Quite neat.

    However, I have used POP, not IMap, to set up the accounts within my MacMail app. I am not quite sure what the difference is between IMap and Pop. Setting it up with IMap is more complicated / maybe not doable with at least one of the accounts, so I won’t try if there is no particular benefit.

  94. By jen 04/07/2011 at 04h06

    Hey! That was great info, have been struggling with this – but how do you change the name appears as the sender of each different identity? I can see that you last one is different from the rest, but I can’t figure out how to do this. j

  95. By Rodney 08/09/2011 at 07h35

    Thanks mate, very helpful.

  96. By Brenda 22/09/2011 at 17h22

    If your blog had a +1 button, I would click it 1000 times.

    I too have been looking for this for a couple of years.

  97. By Thorri 22/09/2011 at 23h02

    I’ve been looking for this for too long. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  98. By Lyn 23/09/2011 at 02h34

    Thanks so much for this. Helped out heaps!

  99. By Ben 23/09/2011 at 20h12

    THANKS! This is awesome!

  100. By Sebastian 17/11/2011 at 09h05

    This is amazing! Thank you so much!!!

  101. By Nicolas 22/11/2011 at 15h12

    Hello, simple but efficient, this is how I like it.

    Thank you for the tip!

  102. By Darren Overby 30/01/2012 at 18h30

    Thanks for this tip. I was just about to give up. But now I see the solution is fairly obvious. Now if I can just get my gmail contacts to sync with address book. Doesn’t seem to be working for me.

  103. By dennis 03/02/2012 at 16h28

    Write stuff in 2006 and get people to still thank you in 2012… here we go:

    Thank you!

  104. By Sebastien 30/03/2012 at 12h22

  105. By Lee 01/04/2012 at 19h01

    I am currently still on Entourage (2008) and considering moving to Mail. Multiple email address are no problem in Entourage of course…and the email that I receive email from is the default email that is used when replying. How “normal” is that behavior but Mail still does not default to this behavior??

    My biggest question is: can I actually have two or more complete “Identities” when loading up Mail? I currently us multiple identities (not emails) in Entourage (personal and work) and have multiple email addresses coming in to either identity. I log out of one and into the other as I do not want my personal emails being mixed in with my work emails…or my folder sets being mixed either. This works great in Entourage but from what I see not in Mail…?? Any other way to “separate” these groups of emails and folder groups so my Inbox/email interface stays separated and organized??

    Thanks in advance!

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