Use Gmail Plus-Addressing to Generate Throw-Away E-Mail Addresses

The following Tech-Recipes tutorial describes using the plus-addressing option on your Gmail account to create disposable email addresses.


Do not use this service from your main Gmail account. Eventually this trick will stop working, and your account will be flooded with spam.

Many services require email and email validation for use (i.e., forums, free I-tunes, free magazines, etc.). Some make money by selling your email address; therefore, you should not give them your main email address. Thus the need for throw-away or disposable email addresses is certain. Although many email providers offer this service, Gmail is an especially useful tool.

This information from wikipedia re Gmail explains how plus addressing works:

    Gmail also supports “plus-addressing” of emails. Messages can be sent to addresses in the form: gmail.user+extratext@gmail.com where extratext can be any string. Plus-addressing allows users to sign up for different services with different aliases and then easily filter all e-mails from those services. It does not appear, however, that the +string feature works when sending email from a gmail account to itself. Additionally (in some cases) the string appended to the e-mail address may not be longer than six characters.

If your gmail account is throwaway@gmail.com, then you can generate additional email accounts by adding text after the plus sign.

Original Account:
– throwaway@gmail.com

New Accounts:
– throwaway+dumpa@gmail.com
– throwaway+dumpb@gmail.com

By using Gmail’s filtering function with your unique text (dumpa, dumpb, etc.), you can automatically archive these messages if you start to see spam.

This likely will not work forever. Spammer and websites will soon learn to filter and remove this plus-addressing text. That is one of the advantages of Gmail. You can always sign up for another account.

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4 Responses to “Use Gmail Plus-Addressing to Generate Throw-Away E-Mail Addresses”

  1. September 11, 2009 at 1:17 am, D.B. Cooper said:

    Would this work?
    When you first start using gmail, give everyone you like your new address as:
    myaddress+6342@gmail.com
    Then filter out mail addressed to myaddress@gmail.com to be labeled spam.
    Use myaddress@gmail.com when you register at sites that you don’t want to give your real address to.
    You would still have the option to give other alias plus addresses if for some reason you wanted to track spread of a particular address to spam lists.
    The spammers who eventually catch on to stripping off the plus part of gmail addresses would be stymied.
    If your +6342 address started getting spam, you would have to change to a new plus suffix and let everyone know, but I guess you would have to do that with any address.
    Do you think using myaddress+____ would have more of a tendency to stay spam free even after the spamlist starts stripping off the plus suffixes?

    Reply

    • January 24, 2010 at 7:12 am, Dan said:

      GMail will not let you create an account with and address with “+” in it.

      Reply

  2. February 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm, Paul said:

    More detailed information on this phenomenon:

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/mail/addressing/
    http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5233
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-mail_address#Sub-addressing

    Reply

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