If you have multiple e-mail accounts in Microsoft Outlook, you can change the “From” address in a new e-mail message. This is faster than switching to another inbox and allows you to send emails from different addresses, even if they are not your own. Here̵7;s how – with some precautions.
Outlook allows you to send email from any account you have configured in the email client, but also from any other email address, even if you have not set it up. It sounds worrying – and in some circumstances it is – but there are legitimate reasons to use this feature as well as unnecessary.
We go through how this works and how email providers prevent people from using it for malicious purposes.
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Quickly switch between email addresses
Let us first go through the completely legitimate process. To change the “From” address, you must make the “From” field visible. Open a new e-mail message in Microsoft Outlook, and then click Options> Off. This will make the “From” field visible.
To change the “From” address, click the “From” button and select one of the email addresses you added to Outlook.
The e-mail address in the “From” field changes, and when you send an e-mail, it is sent from that address.
If all you want to do is quickly switch between your email accounts when sending email, that’s all there is to it.
But what if you want to send an email from an account that you have not added to Outlook? Well, Outlook allows you to do that too under certain circumstances.
Write a new email and then click the “From” button again. From there, select the “Other e-mail address” option.
Enter the address you want to send an email from in the panel that opens and click “OK”.
Now send the message as usual. Will the email be sent, or will you receive a delivery error message? And if it is sent, will the recipient see that it comes from the email address you used, even if it is not yours?
Both of these answers depend on who your email provider is.
How email providers handle messages sent from another “from” address
Microsoft Outlook itself, and other email clients such as Thunderbird or Apple Mail, do not control the email address you send from. The client simply sends the email to your provider’s Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server, often referred to as an email server, and lets the SMTP server decide what to do with your email.
What happens to your email depends entirely on how your email provider’s SMTP server is configured.
The major email providers, such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo, use something called SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) to prevent ( among other things) people from sending emails from addresses (spoofing) that are not theirs. How each provider handles this situation is a little different.
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Google simply ignores the new email address you used and the recipient sees your Gmail address. In our example of the screenshots, Outlook sent the email to Gmail’s SMTP server, which showed that the email address we sent from— SomeoneElse@gmail.com – does not belong to us, and the recipient received an email from our original Gmail address instead. .
Microsoft-hosted email accounts do things a little differently. If you try to send an e-mail from an address that you do not have access to, a Microsoft e-mail server (usually called an Exchange server) will not send the e-mail. You will receive a delivery error message instead.
However, if your company uses a Microsoft Exchange server to manage its e-mail, it is normally configured so that you can send an e-mail from which account you have access to, even if that account has not been added to Outlook.
For example, if you have permission to send emails from “email@example.com”, Outlook will send the email to the Exchange server and verify that you have permission to send from the address. The server then sends the email to the recipient, regardless of whether you have added the account “firstname.lastname@example.org” to Outlook.
Other email providers usually handle emails with the “wrong” address in the same way as either Google or Microsoft. The easiest way to find out is to try it in Outlook and see what happens. However, check your supplier’s terms first, as some may have a provision against doing so.
How do fraudsters use fake “from” addresses?
Major email providers have all kinds of checks and protocols to try to find spam and phishing emails, including emails sent from a fake address. Scammers and phishers do not use the big providers – they set up their own SMTP servers and send emails through them instead.
Scammers set up their SMTP servers to allow all of their emails, forcing major vendors such as Google and Microsoft to a constant arms race to detect and stop spam and phishing emails from entering your inbox.
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Your email provider, whether Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, or any other provider, scans the email headings for each email you receive. One of the things these companies are looking for is that the “From” address matches the “Sending” address. If they do not match, especially if they come from completely different domains, it is a red flag. It’s not the only thing email providers use to determine if an email is suspicious, but it’s one of the most important checks they make.