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I saved some family members in Google Contacts with nicknames. However, I often need to cc them in business emails and I would like their real name to be displayed instead. I know I can change them on the fly when composing a new message, but is there a way do this permanently (obviously without having to stop using the nickname)?

Example:

  • First name in Contacts: Uncle Bob
  • Email address: bob.hisname@gmail.com
  • Current display name when added in cc: Uncle Bob
  • Desired display name: Bob Hisname

In Contacts I've tried a few combinations for Nickname, Filed As,... with no success.

Thanks

4
  • Specifically how are you adding them to the email initially. What device are you using (phone, pc etc.) and using what Gmail platform (app, HTML etc.) Sep 13 at 17:34
  • When I compose on Gmail web or the iPhone app, I type Uncle Bob.
    – chris
    Sep 14 at 9:27
  • Chris, if I had more time I would have made my answer shorter. Please note to manage the insanity I have kept this to Gmail and Google contacts HTML for now so we can get some points of reference, as apps will add a lot of noise into what should and should not be. I'll check back later and try to help further. Sep 15 at 21:32
  • Chris if I find a moment I'll try to add a couple of pics for item #4 in the initial solution. Sep 16 at 23:08

1 Answer 1

0

Solution in Gmail Web App

  1. First, determine which naming format you will use the most from, e.g., "Uncle John" vs. "John Smith". This will be the preferred format.
  2. In Google Contacts set the First & Last Names to match preferred format and the File As field to match the other format.
  3. To send messages using the preferred format simply type in the name or email address on the appropriate line: TO/CC/BCC. Can use autocomplete when available.
  4. To send messages using the other format, Manually Select the Contact using the lookup functionality hyperlinked to the TO/CC/BCC labels.
+-----------------------+
| Preferred: Uncle John |
+-----------------------+
  First:   Uncle
  Last:    John
  File As: John Smith
  Email:   john.smith@gmail.com

  // also acceptable //
  First:   Uncle John
  Last:  
  File As: John Smith
  Email:   john.smith@gmail.com

+-----------------------+
| Preferred: John Smith |
+-----------------------+
  First:   John
  Last:    Smith
  File As: Uncle John
  Email:   john.smith@gmail.com



Background & Further Information

Notes Around Testing & Cloud Synchronization
Gmail and and Google Contacts are cloud hosted platforms and as such you can see peculiar behavior when testing and making multiple changes related to synchronization. This applies not only to web browsers but also mobile devices. These issues may cause one to sometimes think that something doesn't work when it does and vice versa. For example, a change made in Google Contacts may not be reflected in Gmail's right away even though it purports to be directly accessing Google Contacts. If you make changes or perform tests you will need to incorporate this in your thinking and make sure to be methodical.

Elements of this Puzzle
Understanding the interplay between Gmail email addressing and Google Contacts requires acknowledging the 3 key pieces of this puzzle, including of course recipient naming, the piece that you have asked about.

  1. Gmail Recipient Naming
    What Gmail actually encodes in the email.
  2. Gmail Web Client Display
    What you and others see in Gmail's web client
  3. Non-Gmail Client Display
    What non-Gmail email client display.

Gmail Web Application Only
In order to limit the additional variables and idiosyncrasies introduced by other platforms (e.g. IOS, Android, 3rd Party Client, etc.) this solution was limited specifically to the Gmail Web App only. Successfully understanding that platform affords the opportunity to then look at other platforms independently.

To reiterate, the information here is based on Gmail Web App mail.google.com and Google Contacts contacts.google.com/.

1...Gmail Recipient Naming


TO, CC, BCC FIELDS
Gmail's Web App provides very limited ability for you to manage the way it builds the recipient names in messages (To, CC, and BCC fields.). I have noted 3 different naming behaviors based on the route taken to add the recipient to the message.the recipient.

  1. Autocomplete
    If you start typing the person's name or email address and allow Gmail to auto-complete, Gmail invariably encodes the recipient in the message header as:
     Firstname LastName <emailaddress>

e.g. First Name: John
     Last Name:  Smith
     File As:    Uncle John
     Email:      john.smith@gmail.com

 To: John Smith <john.smith@gmail.com>
  1. Create Email from Inside Contacts
    If you create an email from within Google Contacts contacts.google.com/ as well as in the add-in column to the right of Gmail (see image below), Gmail invariably encodes the recipient in the message header the same way as was done in case #1 above:
     Firstname LastName <emailaddress>

e.g. First Name: John
     Last Name:  Smith
     File As:    Uncle John
     Email:      john.smith@gmail.com

 To: John Smith <john.smith@gmail.com>
  1. Manually Select Contact
    If you manually select the contact by clicking on the "To" (CC/BCC) link in a new email (instead of typing) , then select the contact from your contact list (list can be searched), it invariably encodes the recipient in the message header as:
     FileAsField <emailaddress>"  // Using the "File As" field from your contact

e.g. First Name: John
     Last Name:  Smith
     File As:    Uncle John
     Email:      john.smith@gmail.com

     To: Uncle John <john.smith@gmail.com>

Please Note: The aforementioned information is specific to what Gmail is actually encoding in the headers, what is being rendered (displayed) to you in Gmail is covered in the next section "Gmail Web Client Display"

2...Gmail Web Client Display


FROM FIELD

  1. Where Gmail finds more text than simply an email address in the "FROM" field of the message headers, Gmail will display that text but leave out the email address.
  2. Where Gmail finds only an email address in the "FROM" field of the message headers, Gmail will display that email address but leave out the domain.
    // Comparison of what's encoded in message
    // header vs. what you see in Gmail web app.

 encoded:  From: John Smith <john.smith@gmail.com> 
 you see:  From: John Smith

 encoded:  From: <john.smith@gmail.com>
 you see:  From: john.smith

 encoded:  From: john.smith@gmail.com <john.smith@gmail.com>
 you see:  From: john.smith@gmail.com

TO, CC, BCC FIELDS
Displayed similarly to the "FROM" field with the exception that Gmail limits the display name to the first word (text prior to first space). I assume this is a crude attempt at displaying the first name.

  1. Where Gmail finds more text than simply an email address in any recipient field of the message headers, Gmail will display the first word of that text and leave out the email address.
  2. Where Gmail finds only an email address in the "FROM" field of the message headers, Gmail will display that email address but leave out the domain.
    // Comparison of what's encoded in message
    // header vs. what you see in Gmail web app.
    // To, CC, BCC (To)

 encoded:  To: John Smith <john.smith@gmail.com> 
 you see:  To: John

 encoded:  To: Uncle John <john.smith@gmail.com> 
 you see:  To: Uncle

 encoded:  to: <john.smith@gmail.com>
 you see:  to: john.smith

 encoded:  to: john.smith@gmail.com <john.smith@gmail.com>
 you see:  to: john.smith@gmail.com

3...Non-Gmail Email Client Display


What other clients (not Gmail Web App) display to users is entirely governed by how they have decided to implement their functionality. We've already seen that Gmail Web App picks and chooses what to encode in headers and also what and how to display information that is already encoded in message headers. There is nothing stopping other email clients from doing the same or different. This goes for Gmail apps on other platforms as well as any email app on desktop PCs as well as mobile devices.



Additional Notes

  1. Although Gmail will encode recipient name using the "File As" field using the method in "Gmail Recipient Naming" 2. Create Email from Inside Contacts, you cannot actually search for a contact from there using the "File As" value.
  2. You can only search for a contact by Google Contact fields "File As" and "Nickname" from within the Google Contacts contacts.google.com/

Some Images


Gmail Add-In Column (To right of Gmail) with link to Contacts
Gmail Add-In List

Send Email link in Contact selected in Gmail Add-In Column (To right of Gmail) Send Email from Contact Add-In

Send Email link in Google Contacts (contacts.google.com/) Send Email From Google Contacts

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