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We're currently using Thunderbird for mail filtering, and have a number of mail filters set up to mostly forward emails with a particular keyword to staff or business partners. We have no direct control over most of the email accounts that we need to forward stuff to.

We are wanting to move this filtering to Gmail, but I'm not able to work out how to replicate the above there. We can't be hassling these people for the verification emails that it looks like Google would send if we want to set them up as forwarding addresses under settings->forwarding and IMAP, and there doesn't seem to be any way to create filters to forward emails without doing so.

Besides, setting up a forwarding address there looks like there would be relatively few (mis) key presses required for us to end up in a situation where all incoming mail gets forwarded to that/these addresses (as it looks like these forwarding addresses are associated with the account as a whole rather than just the individual filter itself, as is the case in the Thunderbird filters) - we don't want that to be even close to possible.

While my googling hasn't turned up anything, I would assume there's some other way to achieve this that I'm missing?

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There's no way to do that with just Gmail. Gmail requires that an email address be validated before it will let you automatically forward messages to it. This is an anti-spam measure and, while it might be inconvenient to some, I shudder to think what my inbox would look like if it didn't exist.

You will need to find some other tool to accomplish your goal.

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