05272018Sun
Last updateFri, 25 May 2018 5pm

Dots & caps: Playing around with address, account names

In last week’s tirade I inveighed against the use of those dots that are used to obscure passwords when entered on the computer. 

I would not want readers to get the impression I am against the use of all dots; in fact Google has a little-known feature that makes very clever use of dots.

If you are among the millions of customers who have a Gmail address, your email address name might be something like This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  This email address is composed of three elements: “lakechapalalover” is your account name, the sign “@” tells computers around the world that this string of characters is an email address and not a web site, and “gmail.com” is Google’s domain name.

The sign “@” and the domain name you must leave alone, but your account name is something you have the ability to play around with to some extent.  Google permits users to insert extra periods in the account name.  This means that This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is the same as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Google simply ignores all periods to the left of the “@” sign.

The rules for adding extra periods to a Gmail address are:  (1) Using a period as the first character in your name looks funny but it seems to work okay.  (2) Placing a period at the end of your name and right before the @ sign worked for me.  And (3) you should not use two or more consecutive periods because when I tested this it did not work and my test emails failed to go through.

Aside from cosmetics this can serve a useful purpose.  Once, when a company stubbornly refused to accept my valid Gmail address because they said it was already used and I had to use a different email address, I simply added an extra period to the name portion of the email address and went on about my business.

It is also worth mentioning that email addresses are not case sensitive.  This means that This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. are all the same address.

Note that dressing up your account name with capital letters or extra periods does not create a new Gmail account.  You still have only one email inbox and one password.  The changes you may make to your account name are purely cosmetic.  This rule only applies to Gmail, however; with other email providers a name with extra periods could be a different email account.

For those readers who do not have Gmail accounts, it is possible that your email provider might also follow the same rules for the use of extra periods.  Facebook, for example, does allow extra dots in your name.  Apple and Yahoo do not. However, you may still mix capitals and lower case letters to your heart’s content so long as you do not change the spelling of your name.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant with more than 20 years IT experience and a Texan with a lifetime love for Mexico.  The opinions expressed are his own.  He may be contacted through his web site at SMAguru.com.

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