Gmail super tip

By | May 9, 2011
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Do you have a Gmail account? Gmail Accounts are free, give you lots of storage, and can be used like a regular email account in your Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird or other email program. You can get a Gmail account free simply by signing up for one – just visit this page.

For those who already have a Gmail account or if you just got one, here’s a tip that will really help you organize your email and even keep track of what sign-ups have caused you to receive the most spam.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you joined Jumping Judy’s Jasmine Graphics mail list. You you could sign up with your Gmail address – yourname@gmail.com or you could sign up for a newsletter with yourname+Jumping_Judys@gmail.com . That’s right! By adding the + and a brief identifier, you can sort email and tell if someone has sold or given your email address to others (assuming you don’t use the same identifier for more than one thing). Make sure your unique identifier does not contain spaces. You can connect-words-with-dashes_or_underscores_though :) .

If you joined Great Gordy’s NASCAR Mailing List you might want to use yourname+Great_Gordys@gmail.com . Or if you have a PayPal account you might want to use yourname+Paypal@gmail.com .

Then you can set filters in Gmail and create folders for each special identifier. Setting filters might sound complicated, but it’s not. Not with Gmail! Just log into your Gmail Account and click “Create Filter” (near the top). It’s very easy. Gmail walks you though it, believe us, no special skills needed!

By filtering your email by the “To” Field (like all mail addressed to yourname+Jumping_Judys@gmail.com would go into the folder you create for Jumping Judy’s. For example, using the information above, you could have a folder called Jumping-Judys, one called Great-Gordys, and one called “PayPal”. And by setting Gmail’s easy-to-use filters (rules) you can make all email addressed to yourname+Paypal@gmail.com go directly into your “PayPal” folder, all your mail addressed to yourname+Great_Gordys@gmail.com go directly to you Great-Gordys folder and so on.

Another good thing about this way of tracking your email is that if your + address gets stolen, you can have all mail coming to that account sent automatically to your spam folder. For instance if you have an account called yourname+att@gmail.com – and someone steals that address and floods it with spam, you can have Gmail automatically put all mail that comes to that account in your spam folder while having no affect on your yourname@gmail.com address.

In light of the recent theft of 80 billion email addresses from an email marketer used by CapitalOne, Verizon, Best Buy and many other well known companies, you can already see how it would be handy to have, for instance, a yourname+capitalone@gmail.com address. You could have all mail coming to that account sent to your spam folder and change your email address with CapitalOne to yourname+capitalone2@gmail.com – and all mail from CapitalOne to that address would go into your inbox.

It’s a great way to control, keep track and organize your email. It’s also a great way to see if someone is selling, renting or giving away your email address to others. Just be careful you don’t use the same identifier more than once. So with one single Gmail account you can actually have as many unique “email addresses” as you want. It’s limited only by your requirements and your imagination!

3 thoughts on “Gmail super tip

  1. sofia

    That doesn’t work all the time..some places won’t accept the email with + plus sign..

    that’s MY experience

    Reply
  2. Mervyn swaine

    Would it not be easier to just tell Gmail that anything from a problem address was spam and then you would never see it or anything from that address ever again. Works well for me and prevents having a long list of different names to remember or keep a list of names which could be a huge pain. What happened to the KISS formula? {KEEP IT SIMPLE S***ID} ?? That is as old as personal computers goes way back to the Vic-20’s Atari 64’s etc.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      In a perfect world lots of things would be simple. The world isn’t perfect or simple. Spammers don’t use the same address to send with – they steal real addresses and use thousands of stolen email addresses to send the same spam over and over. So blocking one address does not solve the problem. Fortunately Gmail does a much better job of identifying spam than Yahoo or Hotmail. But Gmail is far from perfect.

      Most people don’t understand how spammers work. They have long since graduated from making up email addresses to send spam from; now they steal real email addresses – for instance yours or your best friend. So putting spam in the spam folder without paying close attention to the sender’s address my actually result in your best friend’s email being put in the spam folder. Google would recognize that your address was being forged, but most likely not your friend’s.

      Spammers continue to evolve and they’re counting on the majority of people to think they are stupid and and just a bunch of kids trying to cause trouble. Most professional spammers are very smart and very sophisticated; many of them have become very wealthy. And the risks spammers take are small compared to the potential rewards. Very seldom do you read about a spammer being incarcerated for his or her deeds. There are tens of thousands of spammers – who make a lot of money sending spam.

      And then there are botnets – malicious files installed surrepiticiously on ill-protected computers. These botnets, once installed, automatically send thousands of spam mails from the infected computer – and there are millions of infected computers. The botnet will extract email addresses from various files (not just email) on the infected computers and use those addresses as the “Sent from” address.

      So while controlling spam seems to be such a simple matter – just block the addresses from which spam is sent from – it’s not that simple, nor will it ever be. Spammers are getting increasingly more sophisticated and advanced.

      We feel one of the biggest problems with spam control is the collateral damage – the good companies sending good and desirable emails – such as our newsletters, which are blocked by arbitrary and unsophisticated spam filters such as those used by Hotmail and Yahoo in particular. There are many ISPs who use the same misguided and unsophisticated approach to spam control – and it always results in the user still getting spam – and worse, not getting all of their important mail.

      We don’t have a solution. No one does. It’s a complex problem for which there is no simple solution.

      Reply

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