Easy Gmail Address Tweaks

Use these email hacks to add addresses and filter incoming messages

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If you have a Gmail address, you technically have only that address. With these tweaks, however, you can parlay it into dozens of variations that appear different to senders, all without actually making new Gmail accounts.

In a nutshell, this entails making your address look different with periods and plus signs. Any website that has your email on file will think that email1@gmail.com is different from email.1@gmail, and that both are different from email1+me@gmail.com.

This is possible because Google ignores periods and plus signs in its email addresses. It treats all incoming mail — regardless of a dot or plus sign — as the exact same account. As far as Gmail is concerned, the periods and plus signs are simply not there.

If this is confusing, consider this: When you signed up for Gmail and chose your email address, you could have used the tricks below and wound up with the same address you have. In fact, you can even log into Gmail using one of these tweaked addresses, and Google will take you to the same email account with the same emails, contacts, etc.

Add a Dot Anywhere

Gmail ignores periods in addresses, so put a dot anywhere in your email, and Gmail will pretend it doesn't exist. Any website you sign up for, though, will see your dotted email address as different than your non-dotted one; this means you can sign up for multiple accounts on the same website without needing multiple email accounts.

Below are some examples. Keep in mind that each address is the exact same, so you could send mail to all of these to reach the same Inbox.

  • j.oesfamily@gmail.com
  • jo.esfamily@gmail.com
  • joe.sfamily@gmail.com
  • joes.family@gmail.com
  • joesf.amily@gmail.com

You can't add a period after the @ sign, but anything before it is open for tweaking. You can even add more than one period, like this:

  • my.business.is.great@gmail.com
  • mybusiness.is.great@gmail.com
  • m.y.business.i.s.g.r.eat@gmail.com

Again, all three email address above are exactly the same, according to Google. However, you could make three Twitter accounts with those addresses because Twitter assumes each address is from a different person.

Some websites recognize this behavior and will not let you make more than one account using the same email address, even when you use this period tweak. However, for most websites, you can expect it to work.

You could add several periods right next to each other, too. This method, however, works only for logging into Gmail; you can't send someone a message if two dots are next to each other.

  • these.....are.....the.....same@gmail.com
  • theseare.the.....s.am...e@gmail.com
  • t.hese.a.r...e.th.e.same@gmail.com

Add a Plus Sign

Another way to spawn different Gmail addresses with nothing but a syntax trick is to add a plus sign at the end of the username (before the @). Doing this lets you add other words to your address, so it actually can look quite different.

Here are a few examples that expand on the email address joeman@gmail.com:

  • joeman+moretext@gmail.com
  • joeman+thatsmyname@gmail.com
  • joeman+ilovehunting@gmail.com

So, why would you want to add a plus sign to your Gmail account? Besides tricking some websites into letting you making multiple accounts as described above, you can more easily understand whether a website is selling your email address to advertisers.

For example, if after making an account on a website using joeman+possiblespam@gmail.com, you start getting emails sent to that unique address from companies you've never contacted, you can bet that the site you signed up for gave out your email address.

You also can use your plus-sign addresses to set up Gmail filters. For example, if you sign up for an email newsletter with the joeman+ilovehunting example from above, you could make Gmail auto-filter emails sent to that address into a folder that contains messages only from that hunting newsletter.

Here's how to set up email filters with your hacked Gmail address:

  1. Click the settings icon on the upper right-hand side of Gmail, and then click Settings from the drop-down menu.

    Open settings from Gmail home
  2. Click Filters and Blocked Addresses from the tabs list.

    Gmail Filters and Blocked Addresses
  3. Click Create a new filter from the very bottom of the page.

    Create a new filter link in Gmail Settings
  4. Type the special Gmail address in the To text box. For example, you might write joeman+ilovehunting@gmail.com if you want to filter all emails sent to that address.

    Create new Gmail filter
  5. Click Create filter.

    Gmail new filter step 2
  6. To automatically move messages sent to this address to a specific folder, select a label next to Apply the label. There's also an option in that drop-down menu to make a new label.

    Optionally, check any other options you want to enable, such as Mark as read or Never send it to Spam.

    Apply a label for Gmail filter
  7. Click Create filter to finalize the filter.