Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Having multiple email accounts with the same ID is typically not possible, and may reflect a misunderstanding of how addresses and accounts relate.

Is it possible to set up an e-mail that has two separate accounts under the same ID and make some emails go into one account and some into the other?

This question actually reflects a confusion I see all the time, so I want to clear that up once and for all.

And of course as with any topic like this I also need to clarify the exceptions to the rule.

And finally, while I don't know exactly what it is you want to accomplish, I can suggest a few ideas to perhaps mimic in some way some of the things that might solve your problem.

Your Email Address IS Your Account ID

On 99% of the email systems we deal with every day, your email address is your account ID. If you want a different email address you create a new account. If you need to switch accounts you'll end up with a new email address.

"Email address and 'accounts' are inseparable because they're really the same thing ..."

Email address and "accounts" are inseparable because they're really the same thing most of the time.

Let's say you have an email address example@hotmail.com and you don't like it - you would rather have notanexample@hotmail.com - the answer is simple: you create a new account. There's no relationship between old and new. You can't change the email address of the account because the email address is the account. A new email address is a new account.

And yes, that may be a hassle if you're using a web interface to access your email and want to transfer messages and contacts from one account to another. But it is what it is.

In fact, that Hotmail email address is actually your account ID for a whole host of services from Windows Live, including Messenger, Spaces, Skydrive and much more - you login once using your email address as your ID, and you have access to all those services, not just Hotmail.

The same is true for other services as well, including Google, Yahoo and many others.

Email address is account ID. Account ID is email address. Can't change one without the other. Make a new one, you've made a new of the other as well.

Exception 1

Some ISPs give you a separate login to access their network which is your account ID, and then allow you to associate some number of email addresses from that ISP with that ID. I've only ever seen this with ISPs, and even then it doesn't appear to be very common.

I'm almost willing to bet that this is not your situation, particularly if we're talking on-line services like Hotmail, Gmail and the like.

Exception 2

Some email services allow you to add an identifier to your email address that makes it look like a different email address, but still routes to the same account.

For example I might have:

leo@somerandomservice.com

And when subscribing to a newsletter I might use:

leo+askleo@somerandomservice.com

Both are the account "leo@somerandomservice.com", and both are delivered to the same inbox.

Not all services actually provide this functionality - in fact it remains fairly rare. Check with your email service provider if they do anything like this.

Alternatives

As I said, I don't know what specific problem you're attempting to solve, but I'll throw out two very common solutions to the kind of division you're talking about:

  • An Additional Account: Even though it would be creating an additional "ID", to use your terms, creating an additional email address and account is often the easiest and most expeditious solution to this kind of problem. Separate email accounts typically mean separate inboxes, but you can also use desktop email programs to download email from multiple accounts and process them however you like. Which actually leads to the second possible solution:

  • Filter Incoming Mail: Most desktop email programs, and some web services, allow you to filter or take action on email as it arrives. The solution that comes to mind here is to pick some characteristic of incoming email and automatically route that email to sub folders that you've set up. Perhaps email with the word "Question" in the subject line would automatically get placed in the "Questions" folder, while email from certain people would get placed into some kind of "VIP" folder. There are quite literally unlimited possibilities here. In desktop email programs, look for "filters" or "rules". Gmail includes filters which allow you to place labels on email based on criteria you specify to the same effect.

    And of course if you do use your desktop email program to access more than one email account as in the first suggestion, or the different email addresses on the same email account as in the second exception, you can always use filters to route each account's email into its own folder.

Hopefully one of those suggestions will address your specific situation.

Preemptive warning ('cause I know it's coming): comments to this article that ask how to change an account's email address will be deleted. Please re-read the article.

Article C4411 - August 21, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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17 Comments
Mr On Line
August 21, 2010 5:50 PM

I think it's way simpler than that and it can be done without people noticing the difference ..

1 - If you are using Yahoo Mail you can create various " Aliases " on the same ID it's basically exactly what you want you can have two email addresses both pointing to the same account .
and with a few filters you can manage to separate them " not sure though if you can filter messages on a free Yahoo account .

2- If you are using Hotmail or Gmail you can simply create another account and set your first account to forward all mail to the other account and set the other account to filter messages from the first account into a specific folder which is a fairly simple process .

Ken B
August 23, 2010 8:00 AM

I have seen people using the "+tag" feature to help their spam filtering. Every month (or some other period), they change the current tag, and expire the old one. (Usually, there is some overlap, where both are valid. But, eventually, the old one is no longer valid.) If an incoming e-mail doesn't have a valid tag, it's filtered out.

When posting to public forums, they will add something at the bottom of the message like "add '+foo' to my username to reply".

This way, their "real" address doesn't change, yet they still have a simple front-line filter against spammers, as they effectively get a new e-mail address each month, and the "naked" address which will be seem by spam trawlers won't work in the first place.

The downside to this method is that the "+" is technically not RFC-compliant, and many sites don't allow you to register such an address.

Tim
August 24, 2010 9:08 AM

With a Gmail account any occurrence of a dot "." is invisible to Gmail. leo@gmail.com, l.eo@gmail.com, l.e.o@gmail.com are all delivered to the same Gmail address. However the address used when the email is created is sent in the header so you can use it to filter things as they arrive.

Dan Covill
August 24, 2010 9:13 AM

He may be thinking about having two mailboxes, rather than two accounts. Lots of folks don't know how to create multiple boxes, let alone filter the mail into them.

Gavin Fitzgerald
August 24, 2010 9:31 AM

You can use same name in different locations if name is available.iamajerk@yahoo.com
iamajerk@gmail.com
iamajerk@hotmail.com
there are locations that offer e-mail services

Nick
August 24, 2010 9:58 AM

GMX free email allows you to have up to ten completely different email addresses, all of which go to the same mail box. These can be filtered.

Free Yahoo allows you to set up to 500 "disposable" email addresses, plus you also have up to 100 filters. More if you pay a asubscription, I believe.

TC
August 24, 2010 10:53 AM

Many thanks for the comprehensive reply to my question. What I was looking for was say I have two independant email addresses for example
fred @ hotmailetc. & fred @ allin solutions.would it be possible for incoming emails to go to either or both addresses at the same time, even though I did not specify which one or, automatically transfer from fred @hotmailetc. to fred @ allin solutions?

Many thanks

TC

It still depends on what you intend. On the surface I'd simply have one auto-forward to the other, and then use that other as the one that gets downloaded and read.
Leo
27-Aug-2010

Pauline Miles
August 24, 2010 11:33 AM

I have a Windows XP PC and now a new laptop Windows 7. I use Outlook Express on windows XP but Incredimail on the laptop. Both with the same email address. Sometimes after I have opened the emails on one computer they don't come up on the other. U also run Gmail with a separate account and it forwards the emails to the Outlook Express and Incredimail accounts keeping them on the Gmail account inbox.

Alex Dow
August 24, 2010 12:02 PM

I think my set-up corresponds to Exception 2.

We have three PCs generally, my Tower, my Netbook; and my lady-wife's Laptop.

Some months back, I wanted to carry out experiments involving all three PCs, by taking my Netbook on the coach service to Edinburgh.

This is equipped with WiFi and Mains supplies at each pair of seats.

My intention was to use LogMeIn from the travelling Netbook, to connect alternately to the two PCs at home, left running etc.

Extending the test, I installed SKYPE on all three PCs as well.

To minimise confusion, I set those programs up on the Laptop, using my Lady-wife's independent e-mail address.

For the Tower, I used my regular e-mail address.

For the Netbook, I set up an AKA address within my regular e-mail address, using the names of our two cats.

That made it easy to differentiate and help me keep track of what I was doing, on the coach.

For example, I used LogMeIn on the travelling Netbook, to log in on the Laptop, starting SKYPE on the Laptop, then on the travelling Netbook - followed by having a conversation with my lady-wife sitting comfortably at home.

Some of the other passengers were obviously bemused to both hear me talking to her, her replies; and the clear TV sound in the background.

I also remotely controlled the transfer of the latest data from our Met Station on to the Tower.

This was followed by taking SKYPE Snapshots on the Laptop of recognisable locations on the coach route, by setting the Laptop Cursor to the Snapshot position via LogMeIn, then holding the Netbook to the coach window and pressing the appropriate key - rather awkward in a coach travelling around 60 MPH.

Passwords were particularly difficult to key in.

Any e-mail sent to the Cats e-mail Address appears in my normal Account; but in a separate Sub-Folder below the Inbox and Sent folders.

The next test is to use the Netbook on the same route across the Forth Road Bridge, using the coach's WiFi to access the Bridge Web Camera; and record the progress of the coach "from outside" on the Netbook "inside".

Alex Dow

Frank Golden
August 24, 2010 1:19 PM

I have my hotmail and msn mail forwarded to my gmail account.
I still have to log in to hotmail\msn periodically to prevent my accounts from being deleted.
Got the info for doing this from Leo.

Gmail allows exception 2
Thanks Leo.

Glenn P.
August 24, 2010 2:00 PM

Many free E-Mail services -- GMail and Yahoo! included -- permit automatic forwarding of incoming mail to another account, so that E-Mail arriving at one account will automatically show up at the other. Perhaps this functionality will suffice for your purpose...?

Pete B
August 24, 2010 2:34 PM

To follow up on TC's further comments.

Emails have to be sent to an e-mail address. Those sent to @hotmailetc will be held / processed by that mail server; similarly for @allinsolutions. The sender has to select whether to send to one or both. (As mentioned elsewhere, some e-mail providers do allow you to automatically forward e-mail to another e-mail address.)

As happens regularly, we are talking solutions, but your requirements are not clear. If you can explain what problem you are trying to solve, then I'm sure that Leo and his followers can suggest solutions.

Vinnie
August 24, 2010 3:05 PM

Just remember if you log in to the primary account, say aaa@aaa.com and access bbb@bbb.com through aaa.com you are still limited as to what you can do with bbb.com email. While logged in to aaa.com, permenent deletion is not possible since you are not logged into that account, but are using a subordinate account. And in most cases when you send email that was received in the logged-in account for the subordinate account, if you reply it is sent using the primary or logged-in account. In general to effectively manage multiple email accounts, it is easier to use the ISP or host's system, i.e., hotmail, gmail. That way you do not have two sets of emails to manage - one on your outlook type system and the other on the host server. This becomes rather critical if you have several different computers, i.e., laptop, desktop, smartphone, nettop, or other means of retrieving email.

Thom
August 24, 2010 6:29 PM

I can't imagine why he would want more than 1 account with the same ID. I use "pay for" accounts for my business and personal email. Both are my own domains, and as you mentioned, if I leave Comcast or my business ISP, both my email addresses come with me. I run two laptops, and a PC. When I'm away from home, both are accessible through web-based. Both ISP's allow me to either "leave the messages on the server" or not. With my laptops, I choose to leave them on the server, and when I'm home in my office, my PC download removes them from the server, so I always have all my mail. The laptops and PC all have the same Folder structure, and the Rules are the same on all... Misc Folder, Junk, etc. And, by the way, one of the laptops is running Ubuntu Linux using Evolution (Outlook clone), so it really doesn't matter what you're using, you can still make it simple. I am a consultant, and travel often. When I'm out of the country on vacation, I take a USB drive with my tools on it, and I rent a pc for a few minutes at a kiosk, plug in, run my remote access program, check on my customers servers, my own system, and of course my emails. When I unplug, there is no instance of me ever being on that "rent a PC" in Mexico or Spain. Remember, KISS is best. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Tony
August 25, 2010 8:05 PM

The question and some of the answers are confusing.

I have a work email address and 3 personal email accounts. Gmail is my "real" account. Yahoo I use for some subscriptions. Hotmail, I just wanted to see what it looks like and how it works. These 3 all start with the same name before @ but could never be considered as the same address or ID.

The Yahoo account also allowed me to create an "alias" or alternative email address on the same account, using the same Inbox. Therefore I could give the normal Yahoo address to business contacts, and the less professional sounding address to close friends or family. Mail arriving to these two addresses would be seen by me in ONE Inbox.

My Gmail address is equipped with Google Mail Fetcher, and I use this to get a copy of my work emails while I am on any other computer. On my home computer, I also download my email into Thunderbird. The Gmail download of course includes the fetched emails from the work account.

In every instance, I clicked the option to "Leave a copy of messages on the server", so everything is still available everywhere.

Tim
August 28, 2010 8:23 AM

I just wanted to say; gmail, being the awesome email provider it is, will forward all email+identifier@gmail.com to your email address, then you can apply a filter to stick those in different folders.

Eli Coten
September 15, 2010 1:35 AM

Although not exactly what the original question asked - Windows Live / Hotmail does allow you to link Windows Live IDs together so that you can switch from one to the other at the click of a button without having to login and logout again.

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