So you want to sign up for Gmail (or change your username), but the Holy Grail of email addresses —Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com — is taken.
With more than 350 million users, it’s hard to grab a unique username on Gmail these days — especially one you can use for the long run. (SorryXxXButt3rflyCuTee@gmail.com, it’s just not going to work out.)
But don’t despair entirely. Here are some tips for generating a viable and unique email address you’ll still want to use in three years.
Even if your desired address is no longer in use, you can’t get it. Gmail won’t let an identity be re-registered —ever. Instead of getting frustrated, move on to other options.
Despite the abundance of email addresses with firstname.lastname formatting, Gmail doesn’t distinguish between them. Emails like John.Smith and johnsmith and jo.hn.sm.ith are all the same username in Gmail’s eyes. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage.
If the email address you want is already taken in one format, it’s taken in all of them. But, with a little creative dot placement, you can turn an unclaimed username into one that works for you.
For example, if RonaldCCar@gmail.com is already taken, you can turn firstname.lastname@example.org intoR.C.Car@gmail.com.
If you have a common name, try using your initials, middle name, or a nickname (though keep it memorable and professional). Some people have creative amalgamations of their names; Brandon Anderson becomes Branderson, for example. You can even add your profession in, like Marketer.Steve@gmail.com. Just avoid things that may be a little too weird or unprofessional for use down the line.
We also advise against putting your company in your personal username. You probably won’t beSterlingCooper.Peggy@gmail.com forever.
If this still isn’t working for you, you can register your own domain and use Google Apps instead.
Google Apps for Domains offers all functionality of a standard Google account (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Google+, etc.), but it’s mapped to a custom website. It costs about $10 to register your own domain and then set up Gmail as your email client.
Now you’ve got a cool email address like Jane@JaneDoe.com, but with all the Gmail goodness you’re used to.
If you don’t want the trouble of setting up a custom domain but still want all those Googly features, you can set up an email address through a free service and route it through Gmail.
About.me is one great option. It comes with a handy About.me profile, which is a great web space for displaying your bio or portfolio. You can sync this to any Google account and use email@example.com as a Gmail address, assuming it’s available.
Got any ideas we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re already a Gmail power user, check out these tips and tricks to get the most out of your inbox.
An easy fix, head to your Settings button and select a display density. “Compact” makes your inbox shrink down to a tidy, manageable list.
New Gmail automatically changes the buttons above your inbox to icons, rather than text. Many of us have trouble guessing which icon performs which action.
Why did Gmail choose to make important and starred icons the same color (yellow), not to mention, put them right next to each other?
New Gmail locates icons for attachments and chat bubbles at the end of the preview line. If you’d like to move the icons to the left-side of each message, click Settings > Labs > Move Icon Column. Enable the Lab and click Save to refresh.
If you’ve had Gmail for awhile, chances are you’ve racked up a label or several. Hide less important labels from your left-hand navigation bar to reduce clutter.
The same goes for Circles. Gmail’s new design incorporates Google+ Circles you’ve created. The label lives on the left-hand navigation bar of Gmail
To hide or display some or all circles, head to Settings > Labels > Circles > Show in Label List.
Enabling Circles in the second column, “Show in message list,” will label mail in your inbox with a colorful tag if the sender is part of one of your circles. For example, if I get an email from a friend I’ve circled on Google+, a tag that looks like “O Friends” will appear next to the message.
Sometimes new Gmail can feel a bit jarring. If you prefer to take it down a notch, change the theme to “high contrast.” This will turn your Gmail a nice, soothing shade of grey
Click Themes > High Contrast.