Though I myself do not use gmail for privacy reasons (it scares me they scan all my mails to show me targeted ads), I do acknowledge that Google has implemented some really useful properties. I wish mail servers and other mail suppliers would implement the same trick. It all boils down to one realisation: that email address of yours? You weren’t given just one, you have an almost infinite amount of email addresses!
An Infinite amount of email aliases
Almost everyone of us has an email address for spam, one for work and one for personal use. Sometimes you wish you had just one more. You can do that with your gmail address, by adding “+something” before the @ symbol. Example: John Doe has an email address firstname.lastname@example.org. He wants to use an email address for work, for personal use, for the society he’s a member of and one to give away to companies. Gmail supplies, John supplies the following email addresses:
- email@example.com to friends
- johndoe+ABCcompany@gmail.com for work
- firstname.lastname@example.org for use within his society
- email@example.com anytime a company asks for his email address
Whenever someone emails john, it all arrives in the same inbox. For John, it looks like he only has one email address. For the rest of the world, John has an infinite amount of email addresses.
P.oin.ts d.o not mat.ter
There is an extra feature to make your email address look more “professional”. You can add any number of points in between any letters. So john not only has firstname.lastname@example.org but also:
- email@example.com And any other placement of points. Go wild and give some one j.o.h.n.d.o.e.@gmail.com as your email address. GMail doesn’t pay attention to any points you add.
Note: You can combine both tricks. You can give away firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com if you wish
Filtering for a clean inbox (or faking several inboxes)
What is the use of all these extra email address you have, if they all arrive in your inbox? A depressing start of the day is waking up to an inbox filled with 100+ unread emails. You can solve this, by using filters. You can use filters to move emails to folders upon arrival, if they match a certain requirement. If the email is sent to an email address containing “+ABCcompany” you can move that email to a folder “work”. If the email address contains “+committee” you can move that email to the “committee work” folder and mark it as important. You can even prioritise your filters! Create a filter for work and your hobbies, put those on top. Add an extra filter “spam” that checks for a “+” in the to header and mark that mail as spam. Whenever a new email arrives, Google checks the filters in order. Does it contain “+ABCcompany”? Move it. If not, check the next filter. Does it contain “+committee”? Move it. If not, check the next filter. Doest it contain a “+”? Mark it as spam. If not, don’t do anything.
That’s it! An incredibly powerful method of giving away email addresses and organising your email. Try it out!
Note: You can replicate the effect if you have your own domain. Just create a catch-all email address that email gets sent to when someone mails to a non-existing email address and use that catch-all as your primary inbox. Whenever you need a new alias, just give one out that doesn’t exist in your domain. Use a system like the + sign for filtering automagically.