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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Use Gmail Generate Unlimited E-mail Addresses

Gmail has an interesting quirk where you can add a plus sign (+) after your Gmail address, and it'll still get to your inbox. It's called plus-addressing, and it essentially gives you an unlimited number of e-mail addresses to play with. Here's how it works: say your address is pinkyrocks@gmail.com, and you want to automatically label all work e-mails. Add a plus sign and a phrase to make it pinkyrocks+work@gmail.com and set up a filter to label it work (to access your filters go to Settings->Filters and create a filter for messages addressed to pinkyrocks+work@gmail.com. Then add the label work).

More real world examples:

Find out who is spamming you: Be sure to use plus-addressing for every form you fill out online and give each site a different plus address.

Example: You could use
pinkyrocks+nytimes@gmail.com for nytimes.com
pinkyrocks+freestuff@gmail.com for freestuff.com
Then you can tell which site has given your e-mail address to spammers, and automatically send them to the trash.

Automatically label your incoming mail: I've talked about that above.

Archive your mail: If you receive periodic updates about your bank account balance or are subscribed to a lot of mailing lists that you don't check often, then you can send that sort of mail to the archives and bypass your Inbox.

Example: For the mailing list, you could give pinkyrocks+mailinglist1@gmail.com as your address, and assign a filter that will archive mail to that address automatically. Then you can just check in once in a while on the archive if you want to catch up.

Update (9/7): Several commentors have indicated that this is not a Gmail specific trick. kl says Fastmail has enabled this feature as well. caliban10 reports that a lot of sites reject addresses with a plus sign. You might use other services like Mailinator for disposable addresses instead. pbinder recommends using services like SpamGourmet, which redirects mail to your real address.

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Reader Comments:


Dude. You are a life saver. I've been using my domain to generate random e-mails (a simple catch-all), but half of the mails don't get past the default spam filter.

This saves a LOT of time!

Thanks, man!



very nice



I use this with my own domain to find out who's selling my email address, and it works very well. If you own your own domain name and set yourself up an additional "catchall" account (don't use your main account, please!), just configure your server to not bounce the "erroneously" addressed messages!



cool! :P



Seems like spammers would learn to delete the + and everything else up to @ for a gmail address.



Similarly, but maybe historically, gmail didn't differntiate between pinkyrocks@gmail and pinky.rocks@gmail. This caused a lot of problems, not sure if they ever fixed it.



This is not a feature google has "created" ... its part of the standard RFC... gmail might be one of the few mail clients that implement this part of the RFC but its definitely not a google creation!
(stuff after the + sign is a "comment" ... yes, as per the standard, you can have comments in the email address)

http://www.ex-parrot.com/~pdw/Mail-RFC822-Address.html



This is not a feature google has "created" ... its part of the standard RFC... gmail might be one of the few mail clients that implement this part of the RFC but its definitely not a google creation!
(stuff after the + sign is a "comment" ... yes, as per the standard, you can have comments in the email address)

http://www.ex-parrot.com/~pdw/Mail-RFC822-Address.html



GMail isn't the only one to implement this. FastMail has had this feature since its beginnings!



This works with Apple Mail as well. Very useful.



But, unfortunately, a lot of email address forms reject an address with a + in it.



"Automatically label your incoming mail: I've talked about that above."

Then why do you mention it again? Are you perhaps talking to yourself? Strange.



This is quite a bad way of finding out who is spamming you! Try http://www.spammotel.com instead. It works great, I've been using it for years with no spam!



Cool tip an absolute lifesaver! Submitted tip at howtohut

http://www.howtohut.com/howto_track_your_spammer_with_gmail



Thanks, this is very useful. To add on, Gmail ignores dots (.) in their e-mail addresses as well. Not nearly as useful though, but there you go, i have it described on http://edwin11.blogspot.com/2006/09/unlimited-e-mail-addresses-with-gmail.html.

One thing regarding using this feature to counter spam, if this feature becomes widely used in future, organisations which sell our e-mail addresses may simply extract away the "+something" first.



This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.



I wonder if digg.com already knows about this. I could register 20 times without opening bogus email accounts.



I started to use this but gave up after a majority of websites say a plus is invalid. I also don't like it because your real e-mail is still there for anyone who knows about adding a plus.

My favorite way to defeat spam is http://www.SpamGourmet.com/

All you do is set your info up with the website, confirm an e-mail, and for the most part, never really need to go back to the website. How to is on the first page of the website.



I started to use this but gave up after a majority of websites say a plus is invalid. I also don't like it because your real e-mail is still there for anyone who knows about adding a plus.

My favorite way to defeat spam is http://www.SpamGourmet.com/

All you do is set your info up with the website, confirm an e-mail, and for the most part, never really need to go back to the website. How to is on the first page of the website.



I started to use this but gave up after a majority of websites say a plus is invalid. I also don't like it because your real e-mail is still there for anyone who knows about adding a plus.

My favorite way to defeat spam is http://www.SpamGourmet.com/

All you do is set your info up with the website, confirm an e-mail, and for the most part, never really need to go back to the website. How to is on the first page of the website.



this is great. another way to defeat those spammers. there is another way to get disposable emails. one that i have been using for the last few months is http://www.jetable.org.



Hey this is realy good... Thanks for this tipp...



Holy shit, are you stupid? This is about as much of a "quirk" as is the ability of a lightbulb to produce light. FFS, it's been in the gmail "help" section since day one. Fucking retard.



"Seems like spammers would learn to delete the + and everything else up to @ for a gmail address.
# posted by davejk : 8:27 PM, September 06, 2006"

Well, I will post my support here for spamgourmet.com - not even my closest friends (unless they are on gmail and I really trust their computer savvy) get my protected address! Today's count says I have 54 sg addresses. I use that and Gmail to have a nice relatively tight security mailing system (also use "bcc" instead of "to" and advanced sg mode).



Other Uses of Such Addresses
Did you people know of a previous use of such email addresses?
I once heard that it was also used to re-route your emails through alternative Internet routes :)...
It was said that if you added a previous domain from another part of the world, then the email would search for that previous domain to route through www. And later, when it had checked that there was no user with such an address there, it would re-route to the second piece of the email domain...
That is also cool, don't you think so?



I hadn't heard about using it for re-routing emails, but it does sound really cool. Adds a layer of redundancy, but doesn't mean you'll receive two copies of an email (since the other way is just to enter two email addresses in To: field).

As far as other uses, some users have mentioned that the plus-addressing is used to add a comment to the email address.



Does anyone know how to implement this same feature, say, on a Linux box? Maybe one running cPanel?

:)



Thanks, man! Plus-adressing is very nice! :)



@Christian: You're welcome!



(re: "explanatory" update)

No, this doesn't work because mail servers consider + equal to @.

The email address pinkyrocks@work@gmail.com is simply invalid; if gmail interpreted it as this then you would never even receive the mail.

Don't make crap up (that this is how all mail servers work).

Try sending a mail to an address with an extra @ symbol. It won't work.

Maybe your ISP allows you to login to your POP server with a '+' instead of an '@' in your username, but that would be an ISP-specific thing. It is never the case that '+' is interpreted as '@' when sending or receiving mail.



Noted. Explanation removed.



looking for digital buddies.write.



WANT TO OPEN ID AT GMAIL



Cool. I don't use Gmail, but I'm passing this on to people who do!



Ugh, forget Spamgourmet - it's ugly. I used it until I saw the light and progressed on to www.emailias.com. Not an affiliate link - have upwards of 600 addresses with Emailias. Plus the owner, Paul, is a nice guy.



AMAZING METHOD!



I am so happy when i found this blog.Plz share to me also how to publish google adsense on my blog www.FindFinder.blogspot.com



Great secret, i think it s really usefull!



trashmail.net is the best for disposable email addresses.

you can get a firefox extension that lets you pase a random disposable address anywhere:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1813



You my friend are awesome. Believe it or not I'm a Web Developer and until recently I only just found out about this method.

It's especially great for as you said pin-pointing spam.

- Dwayne Charrington.
http://www.dwaynecharrington.com



doesn't work that well -- most places have figured out not to allow you to put a + in your email address when you're signing up for something



One of the best spamprotection is Spamfence



Great post and awesome tutorial. No more spam for me


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