Adding a + sign to Gmail addresses

By Patricia Egen • June 24th, 2013

Patricia Egen Consulting Fast TipsIt’s time for another Fast Tip article. This tip I will show today has been around a while. I just learned of it as part of my ongoing research on all things Google.

Ever need to provide your email and know for a fact you are going to be spammed in return? Of course. We all have. Well, it turns out there is a way to give out your Gmail email with a little modification that you can then filter out of your incoming mail.

All you have to do is add a + sign and some text after your name and before the An example would be In my example, the es stands for email spam.

When any emails come into your inbox with the +es you know you have gotten mail that is probably spam or at least possibly not that important.  Even more creative – add the actual name of the website where you are giving out your email.  If you start getting a ton of email addressed to that email, you know you are indeed being spammed.  At that point, if it was me, I would have it simply delete the emails.  I spend far too much time cleaning out my email inboxes as it is. I need all the help I can get to filter out unwanted mail.

You can also use dots in your Gmail addresses as well.  Using as our example, this will also work as,, etc.   You can then give out the various email forms in a manner that you then know where they are coming from – friends, newsletters, business associates, etc.  Pretty neat.

To filter the incoming emails,  go to Settings in Gmail and click on Filters. Filter on emails with a TO of (or one of the emails with extra dots) and then tell it to either delete or set to a label. I have already turned this on and it is working quite nicely.

Another use of this technique is to quickly flag emails that are important and that you want to flag in a special way.  For example, say you are putting on an event and are soliciting sponsors.  Put a code for the event in your email address and add a filter with a label.  You can then quickly find all the email responses for that event.  It could also be used for a large project.  You get the idea.  The applications can be quite creative.

I know there are services out there that will create one time disposable email addresses but this is easier for me to use.

Some other email services also support adding the + sign but not Lotus Notes or Exchange. So, it won’t work for corporate users. I have a corporate email account but use my Gmail account for things I know will try to spam me in return for me giving them my email address. This little trick will come in very handy.


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