Use Secondary Email with Forward to Combat Spam and More


Signing up for a secondary Gmail address and forwarding it to your real email can help to fight spam and moreEmail is one one of the best ways to get in touch with people. Too bad, unsolicited commercial email is a huge problem in the mailing world. However, you can do something about the spam: use a secondary email address. Let me share this simple method to help you separate good emails from the evil ones!

The problem

A lot of emails are sent every day. In 2012, that was 89 billion business emails a day. According to the same chart, 65% of these emails are spam. Now, spam filters exist but they don’t always work, letting unwanted mail slipping to your inbox or conversely marking a legit email spam. And there’s still the dilemma of needing an email address to sign up for most online services. Do you want to give your best email for those services and invite a host of unsolicited bulk email to your inbox, with the possibility of spammers getting your full name from your real email address? Sounds like a bad idea.

The solution

Use a secondary email account with a forward. In other words, opening a free Gmail account and forwarding it to your main email. Then you can use this Gmail account to register for forums, services and other stuff you don’t find too important. You can choose to give your main email address only to trusted entities, like family and friends.

Now, all the emails you receive, including the Gmail ones will be sent to your main email account because of the forwarding. If at some point you start to receive spam to the Gmail account, just remove the forward and make another secondary account. This way, spammers will never get your real email address.

How’s it done

Step 1Open a new Gmail account and proceed to Gmail.

Step 2 – Click the cogwheel icon on right and select Settings.

Gmail settings can be accessed like this

Step 3 – Choose the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab.

Step 4 – Click on the “Add a forwarding address” button and a new window will open. Here you will type the email address you want to forward mail from this Gmail address. All the messages from this secondary Gmail account will be forwarded to the address you type in this window. In this example, I’ll use my main email address:

Add a forwarding access field in Gmail

After clicking Next, you’re asked to confirm. Just hit Proceed. After that, there is still one window to go. This time informing that a confirmation code has been sent to the email address you entered in the previous window!

Confirming the forwarding access in Gmail

The forwarding access in Gmail has been initiated

Step 5 – Go to the inbox of your main email address. I bet you got some mail! In this example, I’m using RoundCube with the same email I entered in Step 4. After opening the email you’ll see a code and a confirmation link. However, you don’t really need the code, just click on the long cryptic link on the message.

Gmail's email forwarding confirmation message

Click the link…

Gmail's email forwarding confirmation Gmail's email forwarding confirmation

After that, you’ve confirmed the email forwarding from Gmail to your main mail! However, the email forwarding is still disabled in Gmail settings. You must go to enable it.

Step 6 – Go to the Gmail Settings and select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab like in the Step 3. You’ll now have a choice to enable forwarding. Choose the “Forward a copy of incoming mail to” radio button:

Enabling forwarding address in Gmail settings

You can use the default selection to keep a copy in the Gmail inbox. However, there are also other options like deleting the Gmail copy. Going with the default one works well. Just hit “Save changes” button in the bottom of the page and you’re good to go!

Step 7 – Now you can test this new setting with a third email account by sending a message to the Gmail address. In this example, I’m using an email to test it:

The compose a message view

Let’s see, at least the secondary Gmail address should’ve received the email…

Unread email in Gmail

Yep, there it is! Also note the message on top reminding you about the forwarding. But the essential question is: Did the main email over at RoundCube also receive the same message sent from

Unread email in RoundCube client.

Seems like it did! So there you go. You now have a working email forwarding from Gmail to your main mail. Next, I’ll expand on the benefits of doing this.

Why would I do it?

You might ask what does this help, when the (possible) spam mails from the secondary Gmail account will anyway land in your main email’s inbox? After all, you don’t probably want to see spam in any case. Well, that’s true, but no matter what email address you use, you’re bound to receive at least some spam.

It’s also better to give a secondary email to spammers rather than your real one in case it has your full name on it. There’s no need for any spammer or many online services to know your real name or email. Changing the main email address because it’s getting bombarded with spam can be a tougher task than using a disposable Gmail address.

Another reason to use a secondary email with forward is to test the waters. If you find an attractive offer online but in order to get it you’re asked to join a mailing list, you now have a throwaway Gmail address to sign up with. After joining the list, you can see if the mails you’re receiving are actually worthwhile. If they are, you can keep yourself on the list. If they’re junk, you can unsubscribe but in case that doesn’t work, again, you’re using email address that’s easily disposable.

The bottom line here is to protect your main email address. If you’ve been using it for years, the very address might be important to you. Don’t let it fall into hands of malicious people, instead lead spammers to wrong direction by using a disposable secondary email!

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