An email forwarder copies incoming emails to another address. For instance, you can create a forwarder that copies emails for info@example.net to a Gmail account. It is also possible to forward all emails for a domain to another domain.

The interface

cPanel’s Forwarders page has four sections:

  • At the top of the page you can select the domain you want to manage. Of course, this option is only relevant if you have more than one domain in your cPanel account.
  • The Add Forwarder button lets you create a forwarder for an email address. Or, you can click Add Domain Forwarder to create a forwarder for all email accounts.
  • Existing email forwarders are listed under the header Email Account Forwarders.
  • Existing domain forwarders are shown under Forward all Email for a Domain.

cPanel's 'Forwarders' interface, which is used to create and manage email forwarders.

Image: the Forwarders interface.

Create an email forwarder

As said, you can create two types of forwarders:

  • Add Forwarder lets you create a forwarder for a single email address.
  • Add Domain Forwarder lets you set up a forwarder for all users.

Before we show how to create forwarders we should briefly discuss how they work. We will first look at forwarders for an email address, as they are the most common.

How forwarding works for email accounts

You can set up a forwarder for either an existing or a non-existing email address:

  • If the email address exists then incoming emails are delivered to the mailbox and copied to the forwarding address.
  • Emails are still forwarded if the email address does not exist.

To give an example, let’s imagine that you want to forward emails for info@example.net to example@gmail.com. If there is a mailbox for info@example.net then emails will be delivered to both mailboxes.

If you want emails to be forwarded only then you can delete the info@example.net mailbox. Email sent to info@example.net will still be forwarded, even though the email address doesn’t exist. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to send emails from info@example.com.

How to add a forwarder for an email address

Creating an email forwarder is easy enough. To start, click the Add Forwarder button. This will take you to the Add a New Forwarder page, which has three sections:

  • You specify the address you want to forward under Address.
  • The Destination is the address emails should be forwarded to.
  • The Advanced section includes alternatives options for how emails should be routed.

The below image shows a forwarder from nospam@example.net to info@example.net.

Adding an email forwarder for nospam@example.net.

Image: creating a forwarder from nospam@example.net to info@example.net.

The example shows how you can use email forwarders to reduce spam. When you need to give a potential spammer an email address you don’t have to give them your private email address. Instead, you can give them an address such as nospam@. This is effectively an alternative to plus aliasing.

You can take this one step further by creating a forwarder for each potential spammer. For instance, to register with Evil Corp you could create the forwarder evilcorp@example.net. This has a number of benefits:

  • You can at any time remove the forwarder so that Evil Corp can no longer send you emails.
  • It will tell you if Evil Corp shares your email address with “carefully selected third parties”. As the third parties will use the email address evilcorp@example.net you know straight away that your email address has been shared.
  • If the email address suddenly appears on Have I been pwned you know your personal data has been compromised.

Forwarding to multiple addresses

To forward emails to multiple addresses you can simply create multiple forwarders. For instance, you can set up two forwarders for info@example.net, so that emails sent to the address are copied to, say, lee@example.net and emma@example.net.

Discarding emails

You can choose to discard rather than forward emails. The below example shows another forwarder for evilcorp@example.net. However, this time we have selected the Discard option. Senders will receive a bounce email with a standard message (“No such person at this address”).

When you create a forwarder you got the option to instead discard emails sent to an email address.

Image: discarding rather than forwarding emails for evilcorp@example.net.

Domain forwarders

Domain forwarders let you forward all incoming emails for a domain. For instance, a forwarder from example.net to example.com forwards emails for users at example.net to corresponding users at example.com.

Adding a domain forwarder from example.net to example.com.

Image: adding a domain forwarder from example.net to example.com.

To illustrate how this works, the below screenshot shows an email in the inbox for mail@example.com. The header information shows that the email was sent to mail@example.net. However, because we set up a domain forwarder the email was delivered to mail@example.com.

An email sent to mail@example.net in the inbox for mail@example.com.

Image: an email sent to mail@example.net in the inbox for mail@example.com.

Domain forwarders are a little confusing. There are two things to be aware of:

  • The destination mailbox must exist. For instance, an email sent to mail@example.net is forwarded to mail@example.com. The email will bounce if mail@example.com doesn’t exist.
  • However, if there is a mailbox for mail@example.net then the email is delivered to that mailbox. It is not forwarded to mail@example.com.

Domain forwarders are useful when you want to change a domain name. Often, though, there is an easier way to achieve this. If you are changing your domain from, say, example.net to example.com then we can simply rename your cPanel account. Any existing @example.net mailboxes are then automatically changed to @example.com.

Managing existing forwarders

The two forwarders we added are listed on the main Forwarders page. The Forward to column either shows the forwarding address or the action that will be taken. For instance, for our evilcorp@example.net forwarder the column shows that emails will be discarded (“:fail:”) with the message “No such person at this address”.

The list with existing email forwarders.

Image: existing email forwarders.

Using forwarders as catch-all solution

Forwarders can used as a catch-all solution. If you want all emails for a domain to be copied to a single mailbox then you can do so by creating forwarders.

As a simple example, if you want emails sent to info@example.net, lee@example.net and emma@example.net to be copied to catch-all@example.net then you can do the following:

  • Create the email account catch-all@example.net.
  • Set up three email forwarders (for info@, lee@ and emma@).