My Favorite Gmail Productivity Hack

A simple spam filter and account manager

Jonathan Hsu

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I rarely share my productivity hacks. Not because I’m stingy, but because everybody has their own flavor. Last time I shared an easy way to setup window snapping for vertical monitors. This time, we’re going to learn about my absolute favorite Gmail hack and probably the service’s best feature that nobody talks about.

I’m sure you’ve made your fair share of throwaway email accounts whether it’s to sign up for that website you know is going to spam you to death or because you want a second account for your favorite game. Assuming you’re on Gmail, I’m here to tell you that you never have to make another throwaway account ever again.

Read on to learn about using plus addressing and how it’s an absolute game-changer.

What is Plus Addressing?

Gmail will route all email addresses to the same location that share the prefix (before the plus sign). What that means is the following email addresses would all end up in the inbox of hey@gmail.com: hey+rewards@gmail.com, hey+characterTwo@gmail.com, and hey+dev@gmail.com

I think you can start to see where I’m going with this sweet hack, but just in case we’ll spell out some of my favorite uses for effectively having infinity email addresses in the same inbox.

The Easiest Filter Ever

Gmail does a pretty good job with spam filters and offering different email categories, but it’s time to level up and use a standard “plus address” to segment website sign-ups. With an explicit email address for all those accounts, setting up a filter + label is absolutely dummy-proof and you don’t have to rely on Gmail’s auto-filtering or continued maintenance adding manual filters.

Be an Organized Smurf

Whether you want to beat up on noobs with a low-level account or you want to play with your friends on another server, we all find ourselves needing a second game account eventually. Instead of signing up for a brand new account, which you’ll forget and never check, use a “plus address” to offer the game provider a new email address that will route directly to your existing inbox.

Quit Using Your Personal Address for Work

If you ever need a second account for something at work, instead of blurring the lines with your personal email address, use a “plus address” for that second Github, Salesforce, or Trello account. Moreover, if you’re in the software game, it’s a great strategy when you need to create test users or manage users in multiple environments.

Conclusion

There’s no need to go on further for the sake of a longer article. Short, sweet, and to the point, if you’re on Gmail then you need to be using “plus addresses”. Your inbox will thank you!

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