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Gmail Trick: Cut Spam with an Email Alias

by on May 13, 2014
in Internet & Networking, News, Computers and Software, Blog, Time Savers :: 6 comments

If you’re anything like me, your Gmail inbox is clogged with countless promotional emails, sales fliers, app reminders and all sorts of other clutter that makes it hard to find the important stuff. Sure, Gmail does a decent job by filtering a lot of this spam for us and giving us a real unsubscribe option. But Time Techland writer (and friend of Techlicious) Doug Aamoth has an even better suggestion for stopping spam: Add a plus sign to your Gmail address.

Say you’re signing up for access to a new website or app you’re worried will harass you with emails. Instead of giving the company youremailaddress@gmail.com as your address, give it youremailaddress+spam@gmail.com instead. Its emails will reach you, but with some simple filtering, it will be automatically relegated into a low-priority folder away from your more important communications.

To set up the filter part using your disposable email addresses, you’ll need to do a little bit of setup. Click the cogwheel icon in Gmail and then choose “Settings.” Click on the “Filters” tab, and then click on the “Create a new filter” link at the bottom. Put your own Gmail address in the “To” field, using the “+spam” modifier as shown above. Then click “Create filter with this search.”

Creating a Gmail spam alias

From there, you can choose to automatically archive messages sent to that address or automatically send them to a spam folder. That’ll keep the nuisance messages out of your main inbox. You can choose to automatically delete these spam messages, but that’s not recommended – you may need to recover a password or other information later.

For more on managing your inbox though disposable Gmail addresses, check out the video below. Then check out these 5 tips for getting the most out of Gmail.



Discussion loading

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Basic technique, easily bypassed

From Rick N on May 13, 2014 :: 1:01 pm

While I’m sure this sounds like a good suggestion to the neophyte email user, this is very easily bypassed.

if I was a spammer harvesting email addresses, I would simply strip off any and all characters from the plus sign to the at sign.

A (slightly) better technique involves using a period.  While these are two different email addresses:

  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

These go to the same inbox:

  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This isn’t high tech security, but it’s at least a bit more obscure tan the technique in the article, and you can still filter messages on it.

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Will this work?

From Dave on April 26, 2015 :: 8:49 am

I am unfamiliar with Gmail.  Is it possible to run an automatic filter of some sort on its inbox to send mails without a + character to a spam folder?

BTW, I don’t have JavaScript enabled and don’t know how so couldn’t follow the hyperlinks in your post.

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Can you do something like

From Ellen on May 13, 2014 :: 10:06 pm

Can you do something like this using hotmail?

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Applicable to Hotmail?

From Rick N on May 13, 2014 :: 10:55 pm

The only way to tell is to actually try it.  If your email address is ‘doofus@hotmail.com’, try sending a few test messages to:

  doofus+test@hotmail.com
  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

See which ones bounce back as undeliverable, or don’t show up in your inbox, and which ones you do receive.

Rick

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I use my own domain

From Lorane on May 15, 2014 :: 12:36 pm

I have my own domain and I just assign separate emails for each site I do business with, then forward those emails to my real email address. It takes a couple of minutes to add a new email address, but for me it is worth not having too much spam land in my email account. FWIW, I have been spammed by large financial institutions, airlines, etc. If you are interested, I use Hostgator’s forwarders.

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where is my gmail

From Willie on June 07, 2014 :: 4:10 am

i set up my email through gmail.com…...not through google….not through facebook….now i cant find just gmail.com Google is connected to it and i cant get my mail because i DIDN"T SET IT UP THROUGH GOOGLE…..WHERE IS JUST GMAIL.COM

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