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Automatically forward emails to the Help Desk
Automatically forward emails to the Help Desk

Automatically send emails from your email clients to teams or teammates in Intercom.

Beth-Ann Sher avatar
Written by Beth-Ann Sher
Updated over a week ago

If you want customers to be able to contact you via email (e.g. help@yourapp.com) and manage these emails in Intercom, you can automatically forward your emails to the Help Desk. This will let you handle all support requests from your team inbox.

Each Intercom Workspace has a unique incoming email address, this is found in Settings > Channels > Email > Email forwarding. It’s as easy as copying this email forwarding address from Intercom and pasting it as your new forwarding address in your email client.

You can add more than one email address to forward into Intercom. Once you've done this for the first email address, just repeat for all other email addresses you want to set this up on.

Before you get started

Automatic forwarding is a feature that is found in almost all email providers. However, email providers have different settings and capabilities that can affect, for example, whether or not spam is filtered out before emails are forwarded, or how many emails can be forward per day. Below we outline some guidance for setting up automatic forwarding with some major email providers, but we recommend reading the documentation for your email provider before getting started.

Important:

Please do not use mailing lists for forwarding. Mailing lists such as Google Groups are not suitable for forwarding emails into Intercom. This is because they typically modify the envelope From address on forwarded mails. When this happens we aren’t able to associate the email with the correct contact in Intercom. This is to protect against user impersonation.

Forwarding from Google Workspace or Gmail

Google offers a couple of ways to set up automatic forwarding from your email account. You should make sure to only set up forwarding with one of these approaches, or you’ll receive duplicate emails into Intercom.

Google Workspace default routing rule

This approach is recommended for forwarding from Google because it doesn’t have rate limits or require a mailbox to be created. You’ll need administrator access to set it up. Learn more by reading their help article.

Important: Ensure that the email address you are forwarding from is not associated with a Google Workspace user account, mailbox or Google Group membership. Learn more

If you want to use custom sender email addresses while using mail routing, you should first:

  1. Set up aliases for your Google admin email account, using the sender email addresses you wish to use with intercom (otherwise you will pay for these addresses as Google users unnecessarily).

  2. Verify your domain in Intercom.

  3. Then verify the email addresses.

  4. Only then set up the workspace mail routing.

Gmail forwarding setting

If you use Gmail but not Google Workspace you can configure forwarding from the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab in your Gmail settings. Be aware that Google limits the number of emails that can be forwarded per day.

See their help article to learn more.

Forwarding from Microsoft Outlook

There are two different ways you can set up forwarding from Outlook. Which approach you take depends on:

  • Which version of Outlook you use

  • Whether you are using Outlook on a desktop app or on the web

  • How much you need to customise your forwarding setup

Redirect rule

We recommend setting up a rule in Outlook to redirect emails to your workspace forwarding address. This approach is the most flexible, so it can be combined with other rules you may want to apply to your emails. It is also available in more versions of Outlook.

You should choose ‘Redirect the message to‘ to set up forwarding correctly with Outlook rules. If you use ‘Forward the message to’, the From address will be changed so the messages will appear to be sent from you rather than the original user.

See their help article for more information about setting up rules.

Forwarding setting

Some versions of Outlook also allow you to set up forwarding with a simple setting to redirect all emails to another address.

See their help article for more information about enabling automatic forwarding.

How to set up your email forwarding

1. Choose your email provider:

Navigate to Settings > Channels > Email > Email forwarding and select your current email provider from the options shown:

2. Enter your existing support email address:

Next, enter your current support email address. This is the address your customers use to contact you, that you want to forward to Intercom:

3. Copy your forwarding email address:

Copy your unique inbound address. This is the address we'll forward your emails to in Intercom. You must then go to your email client to set up the forwarding as this action is handled by your email client and not Intercom.

You can also automatically forward email to an individual team member. To do this, copy the unique email address listed on their teammate profile below which you can access the teammates profile by clicking on their name from the teammate settings.

3. Set up forwarding in your email client

Refer to the documentation for your email client to begin forwarding email to your inbound address. Here’s documentation for some common clients depending on your email volume:

4. Verify your email

This step may vary based on your email provider. Some will send an email in your Intercom Help Desk and you'll be asked to click a link to confirm your request or copy a code. This code can then be entered into your email client settings. If you don't see this email in your inbox, you'll find it in your email settings in Settings > Channels > Email > Email forwarding.

Many providers don’t require this, so you may be able to skip this step:

5. Test email forwarding

Once you've completed these steps in your email client, you can check your email forwarding setup in your email settings to test the connection. It can take a few minutes for the test to complete.

6. Add it as a company address

Mark the email address as a company address. This will stop it being added to conversations and causing email loops.

Intercom will attempt to automatically detect and add any configured company email addresses to this list. 👌

Note:

  • It's not possible to forward email by just adding your email address to a mailing list like Google Groups. You need to explicitly forward that email to Intercom.

  • When you forward your email into Intercom, every member of your team will be able to see any emails sent to you. As a result, if you have private emails you don't want visible in Intercom it's not advisable to forward emails from your personal address.

  • Some email clients like Outlook refer to these settings as "redirection" not "forwarding".


Important note regarding BCCs

We will thread replies from Bcc’d people (or other ‘unknown’ senders) into the same conversation. Their reply will contain a warning banner to tell the teammate that the person wasn’t previously seen in the conversation, and they were not CC’d by another participant.

The sender will be added as a participant into the conversation. The teammate can choose to remove them from the conversation if they don’t want that person to see their replies.


Remove Email Forwarding

If you wish to disconnect your email forwarding from Intercom, you need to disable the email forwarding in your email client settings.

Troubleshooting email forwarding issues

My email forwarding suddenly stopped working

If your email forwarding stops working completely, likely someone in your company has disabled the forwarding in the email client of the forwarding address. The first step here is to log into the email client and check that you have Intercom's default email address added to your email forwarding settings for your external email client and that the forwarding has been enabled. Your default Intercom email address can be found here.

For reference, here's how forwarding settings look in Gmail 👇

If your email forwarding is correctly enabled, check if any filters or restrictions have been created in the forwarding setup of your email provider which could block emails from being forwarded to Intercom, e.g. only forward emails with a specific Subject line or with keywords.

If you're still having issues with your specific email provider, we suggest reaching out to your provider or email administrator, or checking the Intercom Community for similar reports.

Missing some forwarded emails

If you have email forwarding enabled and notice that some emails cannot be found within your Help Desk, there's a few things to check here:

  1. Use the Help Desk search in case the Email got assigned to a specific team or teammate.

  2. Check if the email went to spam in your email client. If it did, it will not be automatically forwarded. Email clients do not forward an email when you click "not spam". You will need to manually forward this to Intercom.

  3. Next, check your Intercom spam folder. Intercom has built-in spam filtering in addition to that provided by your email client. If you’re missing messages that you think have been incorrectly filtered, you can check for them in the Spam Inbox.
    To remove spam emails from this spam folder, you can press "not spam" on these messages, which will bring them back to the normal inbox.

  4. Check the size of the email in your email client. Intercom has a 20MB limit on incoming email content. Any email larger than 20MB will be rejected. - This limit includes attachments.

  5. The last action is to check if a forwarding event actually happened for the specific email. You will need your email administrator to check this for you. For gmail, they can follow the instructions here.

  6. If you have proof of forwarding and the email does not appear in Intercom, write into our Support team in the Messenger with the following info:

    • Subject Line of the missing email

    • Timestamp the email was received at

    • The email address of the user and the email address it was sent to.

The users email is not being added as a participant to the conversation

There are a few cases where this can happen:

  1. If you manually forwarded an email to Intercom, then the address that did the forward action will be picked up as the sender of the email. You can prevent this from happening by enabling the end-user detection in forwarded emails. To enable this, go to Settings > Channels > Email > Advanced and scroll down to the "Detect customers in forwarded emails" setting to toggle this on. You can read more about the feature here.

  2. This issue can also happen if you set up your email forwarding through Google Groups or another mailing list provider, which is not supported.

Can I forward emails with Google Groups?

You can’t use Google Groups for forwarding emails into Intercom, as it will rewrite the envelope "From" address to the Google Group address and put the original customer's email address as the "Reply To" address. This is due to the way that Google handles strict DMARC policies. In Intercom the conversations will be associated with a lead that has the Google Groups address, and the original customer will be included as a second participant of the conversation.

To forward emails from a Google account we recommend using Google’s routing options.

The original user is not added as the participant in the conversation when an email generated from a contact form

Intercom uses the 'From:' field of an email to identify the sender of an email and adds them as a participant to the conversation.

Sometimes, with contact forms or some email forwarding configurations, the sender may be changed to the account doing the forwarding, instead of the original sender (or the email entered into the contact form).

Rather than forwarding your completed contact forms via email forwarding, we recommend using our REST API to create conversations directly in Intercom when the form has been completed.


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