How to Guess a Surprising Number of Email Addresses

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It may be possible to guess an email address you are missing—and guess smartly.

The Typical Email Addresses Is Not Random

Did you choose your name? Did you pick your company email address?

Pick the former, and you typically have also chosen the latter: personal email addresses at corporations, school, and other organizations are usually constructed from the name.

Such email address conventions make sense, of course.

Rather than requiring every person and program to look up random strings, email addresses can be inferred — and you can tell from the email address who a message's recipient this is.

Since you can make sense of these address schemes, you can also use them to "invent" the email address of a contact whose name and company you know.

Guess Somebody's Email Address

To guess a contact's email address:

  1. Start with the organization:
    • Search for the company, school or organization on the web to find their home page and domain name. The domain name is what typically follows the "www" in the home page's address; the domain name in "www.lifewire.com" is "lifewire.com", for example.
    • See if you can find a general-purpose email address on their contact page.
    • Look for email addresses and, if possible, associated names. Chances are, there's a pattern to the addresses. Michelle Lagrande's address may be michelle.lagrande@example.com, mlagrande@example.com or lagrande@example.com, for example.
    • Good places to find typical email addresses are contact pages and press releases. You can also try searching for the domain name or company on the web or in newsgroups to find addresses patterns.
  1. If you found an email address pattern and know your contact's full name:
    • Put together the pieces to make up the most probable address. If Michelle Lagrande's address is mlagrande@example.com and your contact is called Maxwell Lepetit, try mlepetit@example.com.
  2. If no pattern became apparent, try common ways to construct email addresses:
    • mlagrande@example.com
    • michelle.lagrande@example.com
    • michellelagrande@example.com
    • lagrande@example.com
    • michelle_lagrande@example.com
    • m_lagrande@example.com
    • michellel@example.com
    • michelle@example.com

    If you find no address format and all guesses fail:

    • Try asking for contact information:
      • your contact's colleagues if you can get a hold of any
      • a general-purpose contact (email, web form or phone).
    • Be prepared to have lots of relevant information and to authenticated yourself. Main contacts in particular are, fortunately, not eager to hand out information in willy-nilly a fashion.

    For people not working at a company:

    • You can sometimes guess their user name at a new email service or internet provider from their username at another email service, social networking site or instant messaging service.et provider from their username at another email service, social networking site or instant messaging service.
    • "Michellelg" at Yahoo! Instant Messenger could be "michellelg@gmail.com", for example.