Google Apps: Use Nicknames & Catch-All To Avoid Spam
Do you use Google Apps for email on your domain? You’re going to want to learn these two tricks, which give you access to as many incoming email addresses you could want without creating new accounts.
Multiple incoming email addresses are useful for preventing spam, because you can track who is giving out your email address. For example, if you give Best Buy the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” you’ll know if they give your address to someone else, because you’ll see unrelated messages sent to that address.
Even better, if that address is spammed constantly you can set up a filter to block all mail going to it. That’s only one use case. I’ve thought of a few more, and I’m sure you will too.
Wait, What’s Google Apps?
Do you have absolutely no idea what Google Apps is? Basically it’s access to all of Google’s services, such as Gmail, Docs and Calendar, all on your own domain. So, you can use the Gmail service without having “gmail.com” in your email address; instead, it will be at your domain.
Check out our Google Apps Manual to find out more, including how to set this up on your own domain.
Are you not interested in Google Apps, but want something similar? Check out one of the most popular MakeUseOf posts of all time – One Awesome Gmail Tip You Don’t Know About, Seriously . The trick it revealed wasn’t well known back in 2007, and many people still don’t know it today. You can place and remove periods wherever you like in a Gmail address and it will still go to the same sender. So “GeorgeBush@gmail.com” goes to the same account as “George.Bush@gmail.com” or “G.eorgeBush@gmail.com”. Check out the article for more information .
Let’s get started by exploring the “nickname” function in Google Apps. It’s easy to find – head to the “Users” section of the Google Apps Dashboard, then pick the user you want to add a nickname for. Click that user and you will end up on the “User Information” section of his or her settings page. You’ll see this field there:
You can basically add as many email addresses as you like. This will not create a new user with a password; it will simply create a new email address that forwards to a given user.
This is useful for security and spam prevention, but also because people frequently try to guess email addresses and suck at it. So it’s good that you can add any common misspellings of your name to the list, and that you can add different first/middle/last name combinations just to be sure. That or you can make up new email addresses altogether. It doesn’t matter.
Best of all – because doing this doesn’t create a new account it doesn’t count toward your limit of free accounts.
Are you basically the only person who uses your Google Apps domain? Don’t bother with nicknames – there’s an easier way. Head to your Email Settings page in the Google Apps Dashboard and you should see the “Catch-all address” option:
Set this to forward to your account and any email address@yourdomain will go to you, unless of course you’ve set up an account or nickname that uses it.
Just like that, you can use any email address you can imagine, provided it’s on your domain. So if a scummy politician asks for your email address you can give them “email@example.com” and it will get to you.
You can literally make up email addresses on the spot, and provided they end with your domain you will receive them.
Do you want to know which emails are going to which address? That’s understandable, especially if there are a few addresses you use for specific purposes.
You can do this easily by setting up filters in Gmail. Create a new filter and put whichever of your new email addresses you want tagged in the “to” field. Create an appropiate tag for the filter to send messages to and you’re pretty much done. All incoming letters will be marked accordingly.
This isn’t just about spam prevention, of course. Multiple email addresses are also useful for security. You can have a different address for every online service you sign up for. In the event of a major leak your primary address isn’t compromised (it’s even better if you use a different password for every service, but that’s another story).
Multiple email addresses are also just plain cool. You can give different addresses to work colleagues, to friends and to family without having to check 5 different email accounts: they’ll all go to the same one.
Those are just the uses I thought of, naturally. I’m sure there are more. Share whatever you think of in the comments below.