Cloning Your Gmail Address

A little known Gmail feature can be used to organize your incoming email. For example, this trick can be used to track emails from students in different courses by providing a different email contact for each course.

When you obtain a Gmail account, say, "user@gmail.com," you can use it as a base for any number of email accounts by using the form user+suffix@gmail.com, where suffix is any alphanumeric that helps identify the email source. The emails will all come to the user@gmail.com inbox, but now you can differentiate them by their suffix. In essence, you have an unlimited number of email aliases at your disposal.

Back to the course organization idea. Let's assume you are teaching two courses: for one course, you could post your email address as user+c1001@gmail.com and for your second course, user+w1002@gmail.com. Email to either address will arrive at your Gmail inbox where you can then create a simple filter to label each email accordingly. In fact, using the address suffix, you can label, archive, or perform any other processing permitted by Gmail's filtering options.

Many other uses are possible, such as signing up for web services or alerts with a variant of your email so that you can track responses. For example, signing up for a flickr account with user+flickr@gmail.com to easily track their emails.