I want to be able to email my girlfriend by typing in her nickname, not her formal name when I’m in Gmail. Is that possible?
Google has done a phenomenal job turning Google Mail (aka Gmail) into one of the very best Web-based email systems available, but there are still times when I wonder if the Google team actually uses the system they’ve developed. Case in point, nicknames and other words or phrases you want to use to address an email message. Sometimes it might be purely functional like a nickname or alias of “landlord” for your landlord, or “boss” for, well, your boss. Other times, sending email to “bunny” or “sweetheart” or “xxx” should be something you can set up too, if nothing else than just for fun.
But, surprise, Gmail can’t manage it.
After much experimentation, however, there is a way to get things mostly set up, but it’s a clumsy kludge. Still, let’s have a look…
What I’m going to try to do is set it up so that I can email my buddy Steve by using the nickname “steveo”, as he likes to be called. Doesn’t seem like an overly difficult task, does it?
Certainly, typing in most of his name in Gmail works as expected:
But add that last letter – “o” – and it’s not a perfect match for his name or email address and…
That’s a fail. Logically, the place to try and change things is in my Contacts database. You might not even realize that Gmail has other areas you can explore, actually, but click on the tiny triangle adjacent to the word Gmail and there are actually quite a few choices:
Choose Contacts and find the entry desired. In this case, I’ll search for “steve”:
Once you find the right contact, there’s a pencil icon. Click on it, and you can edit the entry.
Here’s part of what you’ll see:
You are seeing the third field, right? “Add a nickname“. Perfect!
Click on it and ad a nickname. Or… perhaps not. Testing will reveal that Gmail itself can’t see the nickname field and it appears that it’s there just to work within the Contacts area itself. Which is weird because it suggests that people are using Contacts as their address book, but other than perhaps being sync’d with an Android address book, I can’t imagine anyone uses Google Contacts for this purpose.
Which means that effectively the nickname field is useless. It’s certainly not the solution you seek!
Instead, after much testing and experimentation, I’ve ascertained that the easiest solution is dumb, but obvious: create new contacts for each alias or nickname you want, and specify the same email address as usual.
So for my task, I’ve created a new entry “steveo”:
Now, finally, I can send email to “steveo”:
I admit, it’s a horribly clumsy solution and Steve will see “steveo” as the name associated with his email when he gets my missives, which means that it’s certainly not a good idea if you like pejorative aliases or nicknames (like ‘fatty’ or ‘jerk’) because, well, they’ll see them and that could be embarrassing or worse.
But it is a solution, until Gmail expands its matching algorithm on addresses to include nicknames in Google Contacts entries. Hopefully soon…