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user.name, what does it all mean?
October 15, 2010 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Please tell me everything I need to know about the GMail dot feature (placing - or not placing - a dot in the username of a gmail email address). I don't understand it, how to use it, what it does and how to take advantage of it. As an email receiver and sender. Also, what problems are created with this? Is there a way I can use it to categorize email, both received and sent?

(Yes, I've googled this. But there doesn't seem to be a straightforward explanation anywhere.)
posted by iamkimiam to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
As far as how it works, GMail does not care if a dot is in your username. If you have a dot in yours, and try to register the version without the dot, it will say the name has already been registered. They just look at the letters and numbers in your username. Dots are allowed but ignored. As far as usage, you could use filters on the address it is sent to (same way people use the + on the end to do the same. As someone who has signed up for contests in the past, that every unique e-mail address is separate... let's just say the dots created an unforseen advantage. I see it more as a receiver's bounty. I don't know if you can set different addresses to send from with different dot placement, however.
posted by deezil at 4:40 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


One thing I use it for is to put a . in there when I sign up for things that will probably send me spam. If I get mail to the .ed address I know the company told others about my information.

Since I use the same . in the same place I'm not quite sure who did it, but I do know that anything coming to that address is something that can be instantly trashed.
posted by theichibun at 4:41 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is from one of the Gmail help pages:

Gmail doesn't recognize dots as characters within usernames, you can add or remove the dots from a Gmail address without changing the actual destination address; they'll all go to your inbox, and only yours. In short:

* homerjsimpson@gmail.com = hom.er.j.sim.ps.on@gmail.com
* homerjsimpson@gmail.com = HOMERJSIMPSON@gmail.com
* homerjsimpson@gmail.com = Homer.J.Simpson@gmail.com

All these addresses belong to the same person. You can see this if you try to sign in with your username, but adding or removing a dot from it. You'll still go to your account.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:44 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The trick to this (as well as the more useful "+" one to append some text to the end of the username) is that you have to set up filters to fully take advantage of this feature.

The "+" one gives you more flexibility and readability. So, suppose you have "john+nytimes@gmail.com" as your subscription email for the NYTimes website. Then create a filter to move all incoming mail addressed to "john+nytimes" into a specific NYTimes folder. Then you won't have all the NYTimes email cluttering your inbox.

You can do the same thing with the "." trick, i.e., a filter for "j.ohn" which is an email addressed used only for NYTimes subscriptions, but the readability goes out the window quickly.
posted by chengjih at 4:50 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


You might be confusing the dot feature with the plus feature, which allows you to append anything to the end of your e-mail address, like so:

yourname+anykeyword@gmail.com

With this, you can give out slightly different e-mail addresses to people, and then use Gmail's filters to categorize incoming e-mails addressed to each variant.

I suppose dots work in a similar way.
posted by archagon at 4:51 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What everyone else said -- gmail ignores any "." in the email address. If anyone tells you how they signed up with a period in their name, and then google stole it from them? They're mistaken. (And probably shouldn't keep using what was never their email address in the first place, or I'll keep ending up with their rehearsal schedules and hotel reservation emails...)

The plus sign stuff is hugely useful, except for the not-insignificant number of online services that are poorly programmed and refuse to except a "+" in an email address.
posted by inigo2 at 4:57 AM on October 15, 2010


On a related note: when you have to send an unsubscribe email to unsubscribe, how do people do this if they've used the plus trick?
posted by gramcracker at 5:19 AM on October 15, 2010


On a related note: when you have to send an unsubscribe email to unsubscribe, how do people do this if they've used the plus trick?

In your Settings, go to Accounts and Import. You can add addresses to Send Mail As - your email address with dots or plus signs can be added here. To use, just choose the address from the dropdown From menu when composing an email.
posted by beyond_pink at 5:22 AM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have a gmail address for my real name (no dot) i.e., mysticalchick. Someone signed up for one with a dot i.e., mystical.chick. I get her mail quite quite often. If she gets any of mine, I have no idea but I forward hers when I do get it. Never hear back from her so I don't know what the deal is. Weird, hey?
posted by Mysticalchick at 5:54 AM on October 15, 2010


I have a gmail address for my real name (no dot) i.e., mysticalchick. Someone signed up for one with a dot i.e., mystical.chick. I get her mail quite quite often. If she gets any of mine, I have no idea but I forward hers when I do get it. Never hear back from her so I don't know what the deal is. Weird, hey?

There is a lot of confusion when this happens. You are NOT getting someone else's mail because you have mysticalchick and they have mystical.chick - these are the exact same email address in Gmail's eyes. You are getting someone else's mail because the sender sent it to the wrong address. The reason they sent it to the wrong address could be the other mystical chick is mysticalchick1 or mysticalchik or some other similar but different address. Or the other mystical chick is stupid and giving out an incorrect email.

This is like you getting a "wrong number" phone call where the person dialed 1235 (your number) instead of 1234 (the number they meant).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:00 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are NOT getting someone else's mail because you have mysticalchick and they have mystical.chick - these are the exact same email address in Gmail's eyes.

PS: if you want proof - log in to Gmail putting mystical.chick into the username instead of mysticalchick. It will take you to your own email account as usual. You can also try m.y.s.t.i.c.a.l.c.h.i.c.k or MyS.TI.cal.CHIc.k. They are all the same thing.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:02 AM on October 15, 2010


To give a usage example, my registered email address is firstnamelastname@gmail.com. However, on my resume and on job applications I always do firstname.lastname@gmail.com. Then I have a filter set up to star and label everything that comes to first.last as a job-related email.

This was a fantastic way to stay on top of everything while looking for jobs.
posted by alaijmw at 6:41 AM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Someone signed up for one with a dot i.e., mystical.chick.

No they didn't. They might _think_ they did, but they didn't.
posted by inigo2 at 6:47 AM on October 15, 2010


Just to clarify, I vaguely remember way back in the beginning of Gmail, there was a period (hah!) of time when they allowed pol.exa and polexa both to sign up for separate email addresses...

Of course this only surfaced as an issue when people found out about the . addressing
posted by polexa at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2010


Just to clarify, I vaguely remember way back in the beginning of Gmail, there was a period (hah!) of time when they allowed pol.exa and polexa both to sign up for separate email addresses...

Of course this only surfaced as an issue when people found out about the . addressing


I read a few Google tech support threads and people mentioned that Google employees have confirmed that it was never possible to register username and user.name separately.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:25 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The plus sign stuff is hugely useful, except for the not-insignificant number of online services that are poorly programmed and refuse to except a "+" in an email address.

Yes, this is annoying. I actually pay for Sneakemail so I can get as many e-mail addresses as I want easily.
posted by grouse at 9:33 AM on October 15, 2010


As far as I know, this is something that is in the specifications for email addresses. Gmail is (or, at least currently is) handling it appropriately.

Other services may treat the dots differently, but they should be doing the same thing as the google.
posted by utsutsu at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2010


Other services may treat the dots differently, but they should be doing the same thing as the google.

This does not seem to be mentioned in RFC 5322. Do you have a source for this?
posted by grouse at 10:28 AM on October 15, 2010


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