I had been using GMail for over two and half years now. But, still there are many tricks that you need to learn. It was one such day today, when I came to know the power (or insignificance) of a DOT in the GMail email address. May be I will take an example to start with. My email address happens to be sandy (dot) pec (at) gmail (dot) com. Preventing spammers gain access to email address is so tough ;)

Now guess what would happen if some one was to send an email to sandypec (at) gmail (dot) com. Logically and with any other email service, the email would be sent to some one with that address and not to me. Right! WRONG! This is where GMail makes a difference. GMail does not recognizes DOT in email addresses before the AT '@' symbol. This mean that email addresses like sandypec, sandy.pec, san.dy.pec, s.a.n.d.y.p.e.c are all one and the same. Yes, they are! So an email sent to an address, which after stripping all DOTS, leads to 'sandypec' as the address part, would always be delivered to me.

May of you would think of it as a bug or a limitation of GMail, where-in it is not able to assign addresses to people. NO! It is an advantage, a boon for users like you and me. Now I can configure multiple email addresses all in one email box. So, say I have one primary address as 'sandy.pec', I can use 'sandypec' while registering for some online community and then redirect all emails coming to 'sandypec' as the address into a folder, aka tags using filters (and of course, auto archive). Similarly you can register 'san.dy.pec' as another email address for those register-only forums, and redirect all emails to trash :)

Well, this seems a bit difficult to use dots to achieve this functionality. How can one remember what email address has he/she configured or not? There is a solution to this too. GMail has another bug or to say feature, where-in it strips down all characters after a PLUS '+' symbol in an email address. So an address like 'sandypec+online' is stripped down to 'sandypec' and delivered to my mail box 'sandy.pec'. Isn't this cool. So now I can have email addresses like 'sandypec+mobilebill' for registering email bills, 'sandypec+banking' for bank registeration, 'sandypec+trash' for emails whose destination should be trash, 'sandypec+forums' for all technical forums and groups.

This should help an average user keep his mails sorted and box clean. Wow! A nice thought-of feature from Google.

TIP: Configure all emails to go into trash box if there is no DOT in the email address. Reason - Well, spammers would also read this, and know that in case of GMail addresses, they can strip down DOTS and PLUS to make their email reach inbox. In case of 'sandypec' they will never ever know where to place the DOT or a PLUS to make it to inbox. For it's you and me who know that I am 'sandy.pec'

Hope this helps.

written by Sandeep Gupta

Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 8:22 PM


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