June 10, 2009

Even Less Interesting Than My Groceries

Many thanks to you lovely people who added your email addresses to your profile yesterday. You are all winners!

However, I suspect there might have been a few of you that read that post and thought, "That's all well and good, Janssen, except that my email address is 'FirstNameLastNameSocialSecurity#@gmail.com' and I don't actually want to broadcast that to the whole world, especially not every single time I comment on a stranger's blog."

And you know what? I completely understand that! I mean, I don't even have small vulnerable children to protect and I think about privacy and online safety all the time (this may be, in part, thanks to the Masters in Information Studies. Also my natural paranoia).

My regular Gmail account is a standard FirstNameLastName for all the regular professional reasons, and I don't want that email address scattered about haphazardly. But I also don't want to be logging in and out of many many different email accounts, trying to keep track of what I'm emailing from, etc. The thought of managing separate email addresses for work, school, personal life, and my blog makes me want to weep.

Fortunately, as usual, Gmail is here to save the day, your privacy, and your sanity.

And I am here to tell you how it can do that. Lucky you.

Here's the plan - set up an additional email account that doesn't give away personal data, get it to forward to your regular email address, and then adjust the settings so it responds with your safe email address too.

Go to Gmail.com (I will not entertain ideas of using a different email client for all others have been tested and found wanting) and click "Create an Account."

It will ask you to fill in the following information. I filled in my first name which I don't mind using and then I put in ONE LETTER for my last name. Do not put in your last name. Then choose a login name that you also are fine with anyone in the world seeing (this would be a good time to also not use your last name). Fill in the rest of the page and click the button at the bottom about accepting the terms of use.

It should take you automatically to your new gmail account, but if it doesn't, you can just go to Gmail.com and log in with your new login name and password. When you're in, click "Settings" in the top right corner. Then choose the "Forwarding and POP" tab. Click the second circle that says "Forward a copy . . . ." and then fill in your regular most used email address in the box that says "email address." It doesn't matter what you choose for that last drop down box. I choose "archive" because I hate a cluttery in-box even in an email account I never look at, because I am one of those crazy people. Click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the page.

Okay! Time to log into your regular favorite standard email account. I am, again, assuming it is Gmail. Go to "Settings" again (right top corner) and then choose the "Accounts" tab. You'll see your email address (you may only have one. I currently use. . .many) and then under it you click "Add another email address you own."

This window will pop up. Put in the name you want to use (No Last Name! No Street Address!) and then the email address you just set up. Click "Next Step."

This will come up. Click "Send Verification."

Log out of this email account and into the new one (last time. I promise). You should have a shiny new email waiting for you. Click the link!

Now you can go back to your regular email address that you know and love. Click "Settings" one more time. And then choose the "Accounts tab." Under your email addresses, it will say "Reply from the same address the message was sent to." Select that. You should get a little yellow message at the top of your screen saying "Your preferences have been saved." Ta-da! If someone emails you at your super anonymous awesome email address, you will automatically respond with it too, so it won't give them your FirstNameLastNameSocialSecurityNumber address. Or your last name.

If you don't even want the letter after your first name, click on "edit info" next to your anonymous-ish email address and change the display name to only say your first name. Or intials. Or something random. Whatever you want it to say.

Go and change your Blogger profile to this email address (using the steps here) if you want and sit back and relax knowing your privacy is protected and your identity is safe. Time to start worrying about something else, like how soon the milk expires.


  1. that is exactly what I did :)

    ps. I posted my review of pajamas...

  2. Excellent instructions! I've had this setup for over a year and it is great.

  3. Okay, but when you responded to a comment I made on your blog, the from line read: janssen{lastname}@gmail.com on behalf of Janssen (janssen.everyday@gmail.com) so the system is not perfect. Don't worry, though. I already knew your last name, and wasn't planning on stalking you. :)

  4. I seriously love you for this :)

  5. I thought your grocery post was very interesting. So...now that you have taught me how to make it easier for you to answer a question, I have one. What did your parents do to raise such a goal-oriented, talented, organized daughter and do they give parenting classes? If you tell me parents need to set the example I'll be devastated:)

  6. To be honest, I don't worry about hiding my online self anymore. I used to back in the day, but what's the point? If someone wants to find out information about you, it's not hard -- most contact information is public anyway. I have my full, real address and phone numbers on my personal website because it's just not that hard to find out.

    The only real reason I can see for using a pseudonym these days is if you want to be able to comment on blogs and so forth but don't want to be Googled as doing so. I can see the reasoning there, such as if you were a teacher or something but wanted to use the F-word in commentary and so forth.

    Me, personally, I don't care if my business knows about my online activity, because I keep my professional life and persona life separate, so they have no beef against it.

  7. This is really funny. Ever thought about writing instruction manuals?

  8. I only figured out how to do this a few months ago and I swear it's saved my sanity. I used to check 3-4 gmail accounts a day for all my different needs and it made me crazy. Now they all come to the one account and I can reply to them from the specific addresses I want. It's heaven. I love google.

  9. I wish I had this very terrific information 2 days ago, which is when I set up a new gmail acct. using none other than my last name with a few other initials in front...oops!

  10. This is a test because I commented on someone else's blog just now and my comment title came up as my full name. So I'm checking on your blog to see if it's doing the same thing.

    Go about your own business...

  11. You are awesome for taking the time to screenshot and lay this whole process out! I'll be referring people here whenever I talk about this from now on.

  12. You're kidding, right? My brain turned off and my eyes went fuzzy as I scrolled through all that! Hopefully you love me enough to find my address through your email if needed :)

  13. The only problem is that Gmail does that annoying "on behalf of" thing that the Janelle mentioned in the comments earlier. I have my FirstNameLastName@gmail.com address forward to OPH@gmail.com, which works MOST of the time... but if I want to respond to a FirstNameLastName email without giving the person my blog address (or getting "what on earth is Operation Pink Herring" questions), I have to log out of the OPH account, log into FirstNameLastName account and respond directly from there. This is the most annoying trait of Gmail, I think.

  14. I actually JUST learned what the no-reply comment email was and quickly added my blogging email to my profile. For some reason I had it in my head that it mean the person hadn't subscribed to follow up comments. I kept thinking--they know I respond to comments, if sometimes slowly, how rude! :) Gmail is great, huh? I still prefer my hotmail account, but gmail's been great for everything else.


I try to respond to most comments, so it will make my day if your email address is linked in your profile. If you're not sure if it's linked, you can add it by following these instructions.


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