Gmail - use plus addressing or multiple accounts?
April 19, 2013 3:37 PM   Subscribe

I want to use a gmail account to deal with emails from lots of sources in one place - so email backup, emails to do with my phone, and to do with various accounts etc. and was after some advice on whether to use multiple accounts or plus addressing to sort them

I was thinking of using multiple accounts and feeding them into one, but then I wondered about using plus addressing so, for example,, etc.

Any gmail power users have any views on whether using plus addressing or actually set up different accounts for each source would be preferable? Any thought appreciated - I was thinking that plus addressing might be a cleaner option than 4/5 separate email accounts but pros and cons for each approach would be really useful.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Read t his.. It might help.
posted by JayRwv at 3:46 PM on April 19, 2013

I use plus addresses and create filters to make each address labeled with an appropriate label. (Settings > Filters > [scroll to the bottom] > Create a new filter > [follow the prompts].) For instance, or You could use the "amazon" address for your Amazon account, and create a filter to put an "Amazon" label on anything sent to that email address. Or you could use the "buy" address with various online stores, and apply a more general label like "purchases" or "stuff I bought." I find this much more convenient than setting up a different email account for each different subject matter.

One problem with this is that not every website allows you to sign up with an email address that has a plus sign in it. However, there are workarounds. For instance, I don't know if Amazon has this policy, but it wouldn't matter to me anyway. I use my regular email address with them, and I have a filter that says: anything with the word "Amazon" in the subject heading gets a "purchases" label (or you could apply the label to anything sent from "" — you can use either their name or their email address).
posted by John Cohen at 3:55 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The obvious problem with plus addressing is that many services won't let you use them. The less obvious problem is that sometimes a service will appear to let you use them but some parts of it will be broken. An even less obvious, and somewhat insidious problem, is that it might work fine for years and then someone will change the service in a way that will prevent you from even logging on anymore with your plus address.

For these reasons, I no longer bother with plus addresses.
posted by grouse at 4:09 PM on April 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have my own domain, and have e-mail set up as a wildcard account. In case you don't know what this means it will accept all e-mail to, I don't have to set up individual mail boxes or explicit e-mail addresses. Everything gets forwarded to gmail.

So when i create a new account, for example at Amazon I would give my e-mail address as I give out my personal e-mail address as

Then in gmail i can set up a filter based on that address without having to worry about + addresses.
posted by effigy at 4:57 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I do both what effigy suggests and have multiple accounts. I then funnel those accounts into one primary account for reading them all. I can send email as any of the accounts from the aggregator account. I do not use plus addressing because of some of the issues John Cohen points out as well as that anyone who understands how Google plus addressing works, will have your primary email address and it can cause you to start getting a lot of email to the address you do not want.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:23 PM on April 19, 2013

I'd go with one account. No need even to have separate delivery addresses; you can filter on other criteria like sender or subject quite effectively in Gmail, which I find is sufficient for most uses. I've done the plus thing off and on for years and it's a real PITA sometimes, particularly trying to remember which variant of your email address you used to log in again.

Most sites allow + in email addresses but a few are broken, enough to be a hassle. There is a second way to uniq an email address though: add dots to your name.
posted by Nelson at 6:14 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

So many sites don't allow plus addresses that I think that won't be your solution.
posted by zippy at 7:09 PM on April 19, 2013

I haven't found so many sites that don't take plusses. Putting a dot in is a good backup option. Wrinkled@gmail and wrinkle.d@gmail both hit the same account, but wrinkle.d has the Black Spot of Spam and can be deleted, for example.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:10 AM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used plus addresses for years but often came across the problems that grouse mentions. In the end, I went for effigy's solution. There's only one problem - unless you set each account up manually, you can't send mail from those addresses and some companies don't accept email from anything but the account's registered email address.
posted by turkeyphant at 7:48 AM on April 20, 2013

I use a wildcard on my own domain but only for addresses ending in .abc. So will go through. I had to add the suffix requirement because I get epic amounts of spam to random names at my domain.
posted by jewzilla at 9:22 AM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have your own domain effigy has a wonderful plan.

Otherwise, the + tagging works really nicely for various accounts and forms. Except in the (at this point rare) cases when it does not as others noted.

If you are giving these addresses to people, don't use +tagging. It's too complicated and it takes a five minute conversation to explain it and it's caused me to receive a few extra phone calls to validate my address.

If you use multiple addresses gmail makes it really simple to integrate them into a single account. Set up some automatic filtering to tag which account it came in under and then once you set it up you can choose who to send emails from. It's sweet.
posted by Folk at 5:31 PM on April 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses - they are really useful and have answered many of the queries I had d and saved me some time. All good answers!

I will go with a few addresses filtered into one, some plusses and some dots.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 3:55 PM on April 26, 2013

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