In the spirit of Christmas, here is my gift to fellow Dimers which I hope will be useful for availing deals. Just one request, even if you are already aware of this information, please do comment and share your input. And, of course, your votes will only motivate me to share such things again in the future. Here goes nothing:
I think it’s safe to assume that all of us have at least one Gmail address that we use regularly. What most of us do not know is that Gmail accounts come with an option to get virtually UNLIMITED number of email addresses without any effort. This is sort of an open secret. Just append a plus (“+”) symbol proceeded by some phrase to your Google ID to get virtually UNLIMITED Gmail addresses. For example, if your Gmail account is PersonXyzAbc @gmail.com then you will also get all emails sent to PersonXyzAbc+whatever @gmail.com, PersonXyzAbc+123 @gmail.com, PersonXyzAbc+1Missisippi @gmail.com, PersonXyzAbc+2Missisippi @gmail.com, and so on.
Another related trick, though not as useful, is to add a dot (.) anywhere in between your email ID to get a new virtual email address. For example, if your Gmail account is PersonXyzAbc @gmail.com then you can also use Person.XyzAbc @gmail.com, Person.Xyz.Abc @gmail.com, P.e.r.s.o.n.X.y.z.A.b.c @gmail.com, and so on. Obviously, the number of email addresses generated this way is limited by the length of your Google ID.
Combine Options 1 and 2. Duh!
For the uninitiated, this means if your Gmail account is PersonXyzAbc @gmail.com then you will also receive all emails sent to PersonXyzAbc+what.ever @gmail.com, Person.Xyz.Abc+1.2.3 @gmail.com, and so on.
Usage for Deals
It should have dawned on you by now — you can use these tricks to bypass the one order per account restriction that is becoming quite popular with the ecommerce websites. This is also super useful for time sensitive deals. We all know how much it sucks to see the product OOS by the time we get a throwaway email address and are ready to order.
When a shady website, say XXX, requires me to give my email address, I usually append a “+XXX” to my Google ID before giving it to them. Then I create a filter in my Gmail account to label emails coming to “myaccount+XXX @gmail.com” with something that will help me remind where I gave that email address. This way, I have caught and reported many spammers and data privacy violators.
Some websites do not accept email addresses with a plus (“+”) symbol in them. Some are even smart enough to recognize the dot (.) variation trick, e.g., Facebook. YMMV.
You can add the plus’ed or dot’ed virtual addresses as “aliases” in your Gmail settings in order to reply or send mail as one of your virtual addresses2. You can add upto a total of 30 aliases per Gmail account. To add an “Alias”, click on the gear icon in your Gmail interface and go to “Settings”. Once there, click on “Accounts and Import”. Lastly, click on “Add another email address you own” to add any of your virtual addresses.
1. I read about the plus and dot tricks on my RSS feed some 8-9 years back. Sorry, can’t recall the website name, but it was surely popular enough to have made it into my RSS feed. Most likely one of these: slashdot, lifehacker, or arstechnica.
2. User @nitrodealr pointed out that Gmail’s “Send Mail As” feature can be used for dot’ed virtual addresses.
Update 1: The plus trick (Option 1) also works for @outlook.com email addresses.
Update 2: Every gmail address also has a @googlemail.com alias. So if your address is xyz @gmail.com then you can also give/use xyz @googlemail.com alias.
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