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I use email aliases for my email account to design filters sent to me from different sources, for example:

  • me+newsletter@gmail.com
  • me+bills@gmail.com
  • me@gmail.com

It's easy for me to set up filters for the "newsletter" or "bills" aliases, so I can select messages sent only to those labels. For example, to:me+newsletter@gmail.com

However, I have not figured out a filter to search for emails addressed to my "bare" email, me@gmail.com. I've tried what I thought would be an exact match, to:"me@gmail.com", only to find that the filter selects email sent to all three adresses: me@gmail.com, me+newsletter@gmail.com, and me+bills@gmail.com.

What Gmail filter will select only messages sent to me@gmail.com exactly?

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I could not find a straightforward solution myself either because the plus (+) sign is reserved as a special character for "Results that match a word exactly". So I use the following alternative.

A decent alternative

to:ouremails@gmail.com -label:(PLUS|PLUS-HER|PLUS-YOU|PLUS-HIM)

Using the above search terms I can easily find anything but.

How does it work?

I created a new label PLUS (it can even have sublabels) where I "keep" all my plus (+) emails.
All emails bearing a plus (+) sign are assigned the corresponding label upon arrival with the help of a filter. (e.g. themail+her@gmail.com gets assigned to label PLUS-HER)

plus-01

In your case

Create the corresponding labels and then their filters (you only have to do this once). When creating the filters check the Also apply filter to xx matching conversations to include already existing emails.

plus-02

Use this search term:

to:me@gmail.com -label:(PLUS|PLUS-bills|PLUS-news)

The search reads: Find all emails except the ones labeled PLUS OR bills OR news OR press
Done.
You found all sent to me@gmail.com emails except the me+whatever@gmail.com, me+bills@gmail.com, me+news@gmail.com ones.

Extra tips:

1. If the label was added to even just one message in the conversation, the whole conversation is excluded.
2. Instead of | you can use the case sensitive OR. (Gmail search operators)

  • Thanks for this! Unfortunately, I realize I should have been more clear in my question - I want to create a filter to process incoming email that is addressed directly to my bare address, not to search for mail already received. This solution is perfect for that, so thank you again. I'm going to file a separate question to address that. – Taylor R Sep 7 at 22:57
  • "...This solution is perfect for that, so thank you again. I will update my question accordingly". I suggest you do not update the question but create a new one. What you are asking now is completely different. Do not just waste a pefectly good question and a valid answer. Others may find them useful. – marikamitsos Sep 7 at 23:08
  • As per site guidelines when an answer addresses your question, you should accept it so others can benefit as well -. You can also consider upvoting ("Voting up a question or answer signals to the rest of the community that a post is interesting, well-researched, and useful"). – marikamitsos Sep 7 at 23:20
  • Indeed; I didn't update the question. I've created an entirely new question, because I know that you've given me a good answer. Thanks! (I think the site may have caught some sort of draft of a comment before I edited it to indicate that I was going to leave my question intact). – Taylor R Sep 8 at 5:46

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