I'm fairly savvy with civicrm in general but bounce processing seems to always stump me. Trying to use Google Apps for the return channel, I saw this post on the wiki: Step-by-step+Return+Channel+on+Drupal+-+Google+Apps+-+CentOS, which is referenced here: CiviMail+Installation.

Is this still the best practice to get the return channel to work? If so, I'm confused by the reference to [email protected]. If the organization sends from [email protected] can't one simply use the [email protected] as the return channel or does this example expect the sending address to be [email protected]?

The return address does not change at all if I enable/disable VERP setting in civicrm mail component settings. I have used return+ in the "localpart" and have Return Path blank. I assume that it is automatically generated.

Also, the wiki says that there are "There are four possible solutions for handling of the return channel." but lists only 2. Furthermore it says " Second, some SMTP services (notably google) insert their own Return-Path address headers, superseding the headers set by civiMail and effectively disabling bounce tracking." Does that refer to "Gmail" or "Google Apps"? When using an outlook client, it does let me change the Reply to address.

I'm using IMAP and after executing the bounce processing job manually I see the mail moved to "label:inbox-civimail-ignored".

Any delicious google app recipes or updates to the wiki appreciated.

BTW - I've had similar problems with SMTP bounce processing using Mandril so I'm sure I'm doing something dumb,

1 Answer 1


So first, the VERP setting you see is about processing replies, it isn't the same as the VERP used for the bounces, that are always in.

For the bounces, you need to create a mailbox dedicated for that purpose, (eg. [email protected]) that is different than your normal sending email ([email protected]). You could in theory use [email protected], but that's likely to create problems for your org.

To test if it works, create a contact with an invalid email address, send a civimail mailing to a group with that address and verify that the bounce email is properly into the [email protected] mailbox. If it is, you are almost there, as your cronjob seems to be properly setup to fetch that mailbox.

As for the label:inbox-civimail-ignored, it is simply that you have an email in your "bounce/return" mailbox that isn't a bounce. One of the many reasons to keep your info@domain (where recipients might reply to) separated from your return@domain (where only the mail servers are supposed to reply to when there is a bounce).

  • I see - Thanks for clarifying the two different VERP settings. I can try as mentioned but is it really necessary to create a new (paid) google apps mailbox just for bounces? I thought the google '+' alias of user+alias@domain was mentioned to avoid this (and creating an IMAP folder for bounces) Is the user+alias mentioned for something else? I'd be happy to experiment with using one account and sub-folders and documenting if you think that is a reasonable solution. Jun 23, 2015 at 22:52
  • In theory, you could set up a rule to put the bounces automatically with a label, and configure the bounces to fetch only this folder (you'd need to fetch over imap). Let us know, I never tried it that way
    – Xavier
    Jun 24, 2015 at 6:21

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