Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to use Gmail as a free email server for your scanner

Many multifunction printers give you the ability to scan documents or images to an email address.  However, this capability isn't completely built-in.  You still need to have an email server or Exchange server that will take the emails and send them on to wherever they need to go.  If you want to set up scanning to email on your scanner or multifunction printer but you don't have a dedicated email server (or you don't know if you do) you can use Gmail's email server to send your scanned files -- free of charge.  The only requirement is that your scanner supports the SSL transfer protocol, which most modern scanners do.

In order to use Gmail as your email server, you will need to have a valid Gmail account.  If you don't have one, you can sign up for one here: https://mail.google.com .  If you already have a Gmail account, then you're one step ahead.

You can create a Gmail account using just about any information you want -- business, personal, etc.  The main thing to be aware of is not to select account verification (or Captcha).  If you enable this setting, you'll be asked to verify your account when you log into Gmail.  That may be fine for a human user, but your scanner has no way to verify itself when it tries to log in, and it will be denied access.

The steps for setting up your scanner to use Gmail as the email server will vary greatly by model, but you should be able to find instructions in the scanner's user manual, under Email Scanning, Scan to Email, SMTP Settings, or something similar.  On some machines, email setup can be done from your computer, through a web browser, while other machines may require you to do it directly from the scanner's operation panel.  Below are the basic settings you'll need to input.

For the SMTP server name, use "smtp.gmail.com".  You should be able to specify a port; if so, use port 465.  (If that doesn't work, try 587.)  Then look for an SSL setting and make sure it is enabled.  Often, when you select SSL, it will automatically select port 465.  If your scanner doesn't support SSL, you won't be able to scan through Gmail.

For SMTP authentication, use your Gmail email address as the user name, and enter your password in the password field.  You should only have to enter this information once (and maybe once more to confirm it) and then the machine will save it for future use.  Some machines will ask you for both a user name and an email address; in this case, enter the email address in both fields unless you have a separate user name.

Those are the basic settings that you'll need to input in order to scan through Gmail.  Different devices may ask for more particulars, or may call things by different names.  For any settings that you're unsure of, leave them at their default values or else select "Auto" if that's an option.

(Originally published on Bubblews.com, March 2014)

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