Google Gmail is one of the most popular and powerful web email platforms on the Internet. I have been using Gmail almost since the beginning and over the years I have used every tip and trick that made my email experience better. With all my reading and trying to stay up on all the new features occasionally one or two slip through the cracks. As I was conversing with co-workers today I found about a new one that I have already begun using and I can see being very useful and insightful in the future. Since I am writing a post I will throw in a bonus trick for free, two Gmail tricks that will change your use.
Any other email service you get one email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s it. If you use that to register on website, applications, services, etc… you use that one address. Eventually you will get a company that will sell your email and the spam starts to flow. From your viewpoint you can’t tell what service sold your info. With Gmail you can without getting new email addresses all the time. This trick will only help you identify the website or business that sold you out, it won’t help you get out of the spam lists.
If a website will allow this in their text boxes, most do, you can create an infinite number of email addresses with one account, here’s how –
Write your email address like this – email@example.com . When you add a + after your email address name and before the @ Gmail will still send it to your mail mailbox. This little trick now allows you to create email addresses and add a note to it that will help identify anyone that sells you out. Examples, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Simple, easy, effective. If you get spam it will be sent to the whole email address you used, the websites don’t know any different. If you want to kill the spam you can prevent the spam coming in but you can create rules to auto delete everything that is sent to that unique email address.
The second trick involves the dots/periods in an email address. This one you can a little more sneaky and tricky with if used right. Gmail parses out all the dots in the email prefix. No matter where the dot or dots are all the mail will be sent to the mailbox. Example – email@example.com, con.tactme@binaryblogger, con.ta.ct.me@binaryblogger.
How is this useful? Similar to the notes trick from above you can create multiple email addresses from one address. You can use it to identify sources but on the more tricky side you can use it to register multiple times with the same email address. The website will see each email address as a single unique address even though it all goes into one mail box. If you have a contest that has a one registration per email, well now you can register multiple times without having to use multiple, separate email addresses. Ethical? Skirting the rules? I am not a judge on the moral compass of the matter. But for each email address contests get the trade-off is selling that info for $$$ so it’s up to you to work within the technical limits and if you can sleep at night. Me, I sleep just fine.
There you go, two trick for Gmail that will change the way you will use it. I have already begun using the notes feature to start to track who is selling my info so I can stop doing business with them. The power to auto delete the inbounds will also ensure my Gmail account(s) can stay cleaner, longer.
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Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.