You may already know that Gmail ignores periods in account names, so username and user.name are actually the same account in Gmail. But do you know the secret of the plus sign?
If Gmail sees a plus sign (+) in your email address, it will ignore the + and any following text. So firstname.lastname@example.org will get delivered to email@example.com. (The + can only be on the left of the @ symbol, which is the username part of the email address.) Why is this something you should care about? Because you can make up new email addresses and do cool things with filters. A couple examples…
Deliver Important Messages to Your Phone
Let’s say your kid’s school has your email address so they can send you important messages. You can set up a filter in Gmail that checks for messages addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org and automatically forward them to your email at work. Or you can have them forwarded to your mobile phone as a text message. (Most mobile providers provide a special email address using your phone number, so people can send you email that will be delivered as a text message.)
Reduce Spam Messages
Or maybe you want to download a free e-book that requires your email address first. You can use email@example.com and set up a filter that automatically moves those messages out of your inbox–maybe into another folder or the Trash. You could also use firstname.lastname@example.org, and set up filters to handle those messages differently than regular email.
Here’s a handy anti-spam tip! When you need to provide an email address online, put the website’s domain name in the address, like this: email@example.com. Now if Facebook decides to sell your email address, you’ll know it when spam comes to that address…and you can filter out those messages, sending them to your Spam folder.