A while ago I was perusing the Google help files and found a cool little tidbit. It didn’t really hit me right away how useful it could be. Once I started to use it, I wondered how I got by not having it before. What I am babbling on about is Gmail’s ability to handle aliases. These are variations of your email address, not totally different email addresses, going to a common inbox.
The main idea behind using aliases in Gmail is to help you automate organizing incoming emails. Most people I know have separate folders for different people or projects. When an email is received, it eventually gets manually moved to the folder in which it belongs. Some who use desktop programs like Mail or Outlook may have rules set up. Few people however, take the time for this with their web based email accounts. This is one of the reasons people spend so much time dealing with email everyday.
By simply giving your client, work, contest entry forms, social media site… an alias to your email address, you can have it automatically sent to a specific folder. This will save immense amounts of time sorting the messages in your inbox.
It is really quite simple to add an alias. All you need to do is add a [+] then your a word or abbreviation to your notmal email address. Here is an example. Let’s say your email address is email@example.com. If you wanted to add “jm” for junk mail, your junk mail alias would look like this firstname.lastname@example.org
You may want to write down the additional words or abbreviations you use so you can use them more than once. Here are some examples of short additions. There really isn’t a character limit for the alias, but you don’t want to go overboard.
eb = ebay
sc = soccer team
jm = junk mail
bt = beta trial
ja = job applied for or job application
There’s really no limit as to what you can use for the alias. The sky is the limit.
1. Job Hunting – This can be a super handy feature to use when seeking employment. You could have your email@example.com alias on your resume and applications you fill out. This way when you get a reply, it will be aggregated into your “job hunt” folder.
2. Selling Online – Give an alias link such as firstname.lastname@example.org for your contact information in an ad on Craigslist.
3. Sports Teams – If you are on or manage a sports team (yes, even a fantasy football team counts).
4. Collaborating on a Project - Have all of the emails for different projects go into different folders.
Setting Up a Filter
Setting up a filter is pretty important. If you don’t do this part, it makes using an alias pointless. For those of you who don’t know how to create a filter and label, here’s how.
1. Click the Settings tab in the top right of your Gmail inbox page.
2. Click on Filters
3. Click on Create a new filter
4. Type your email address with your alias in [To:] field
5. Click Next step
6. Check the boxes for the actions you would like. In this case I chose the following options:
- Skip the Inbox (Archive it)
- Apply Label – Job Hunt (If you don’t have a label created, click “Create new label” and choose a name.)
- Never Send it to Spam
7. Click Create Filter
In the end, you should see something like this.
What are the ways you plan to use aliases?
Image credit – Adria Richards