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Keep your inbox clean with email aliases

2009 July 5
by Eddie

More and more sites require you to verify an account by receiving an email.. fair enough.  But then 2 months later you start getting the newsletters and updates that you no longer care about.

Enter Gmail !

To be honest, other mail servers may do the same, it may be standard, but I have not seen it used outside of gmail domains. Anyway, I digress.

The Alias ability in Gmail lets you create a unique address for a site(s) and then set filters on those addresses, my favorite being send to trash..

Email Aliases – Best Approach?

Ok so the downside is you can’t turn off the aliases, and senders won’t get a non-recipient error when they send the email. Most intelligent mass mailing systems will remove addresses that get this error on several attempts. So your not doing your part to cut down useless internet traffic.

BUT! you will never see the email and cringe with anger because you still have not bothered to login to the site, close the account and unsubscribe.

The Gmail Way

When you are signing up to a site with obligatory email, give them your email as follows;

You’ll get the one time “please click here” activation email just as if you provided your normal address.

Then, once you decide you no longer need to read their messages you can set the filter.  Just enter a plus sign and a unique tage ( ‘+uniquetag’) as the to: criteria. I get a ludicrous amount of emails from this Eddie fellow about cats, so its time I made a filter..

Building a Filter from Gmail Alias

Building a Filter from Gmail Alias

Other Ideas

So there are lots of reasons to use this aside from email address discretions.

  • Labeling your email forwarded from other accounts, just change the FWD address in the other account
  • Sorting comments from a website contact form (+feedback, +sales, etc)
  • Telling people your email address has a plus sign, beat that!
  • Auto-Archive daily Cron messages

I would love to hear about some more handy Gmail tricks.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. tried it permalink
    July 5, 2009

    It’s a good idea, but lots of sites already reject gmail addresses with the “+” character in them.

  2. July 6, 2009

    An alternative is to use a “throw-away” mail address from a service like

  3. Eddie permalink*
    July 6, 2009

    @tried it
    Great point, I haven’t had that issue with my work or school email forwarding servers, but many sites do use lame email validation that will forbid ‘+’s

    Absolutely, and throw-away services automatically expire after the given interval so senders will get a non-recipient warning. This is the best route for pure spam sites.
    I think the alias method gives a nice balance (should you need a password reset, etc in the future, you can pause the rule)

  4. mike permalink
    August 2, 2009

    throw-away sites are not very secure…
    try something like where it is password protected and forwards the emails to your normal account.

  5. Eddie permalink*
    August 4, 2009

    Excellent point Mike.
    I wonder if you are able to turn off forwarding for emails or sites after they serve their use.

  6. mike permalink
    August 8, 2009

    yep, you can.

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