One trick you may or may not have picked up about Gmail is that you can add in periods anywhere in the front part of your address and it makes no difference whatsoever: email@example.com works just the same as firstname.lastname@example.org. What’s more, you can add a plus sign and any word before the @ sign (e.g. email@example.com) and messages will still reach you. If these tweaks make no difference, then why use them? One major reason: filters.
Here are a few ways you can make use of the feature to bring order to the chaos of your inbox.
Signing up for newsletters
The next time you sign up for a newsletter, app or website, use an address like firstname.lastname@example.org. That way, you can filter out everything sent to this address to a low-priority label or folder. A couple of options available to you are to have Gmail mark all these messages as unimportant, or categorize them all as Updates.
If you want to get really involved with your email management then you could even add a specific word for everything you sign up for: email@example.com for example. This might eventually become more trouble than it’s worth, but it does give you the power to instantly send emails from a certain source to the spam folder, or to trash them immediately.
Giving friends VIP status
As well as marking some messages as unimportant, you can of course do the opposite. Try handing out an alternative email address—such as firstname.lastname@example.org—to your nearest and dearest to help them stand out from the dross that usually fills up your inbox. Then set up a filter to mark these messages as important and top priority.
There’s the mobile aspect to consider too. Through the settings in the Gmail app for Android it’s possible to set notifications on a label-by-label basis, so if you set up a new label for your VIP contacts then you can make sure only these specific messages trigger an alert on your phone.
Dividing work life and personal life
You may already have a separate Google account for your job, but if you’re someone who combines work and pleasure into one central inbox then use the address tricks to distinguish between the two. It could be as simple as adding “+w” to your Gmail address for any work-related emails.
That then gives you the ability to mark every incoming work email with an appropriate label, with no manual effort required—not only will your inbox look tidier, but it will make searches much more efficient. You can restrict queries to one particular label and leave yourself with fewer results to sift through.