I have to admit I was a little confused when I asked this question, as I thought that it was my Gmail where names and email addresses were connected.

But of course, it's not the local Gmail client that attaches a name to an email for display when receiving, it's whether or not the sender has a name attached to their email, as explained in the answer.

Okay... but, can I set Gmail up in a way so that it will replace a known email address with the name I have for them in my contacts in situations when someone sends me an email with no name set? Or, even better, over rides their name with the one I have set in any case (since I think of them by the name I have set, not what they have set)?

This is standard practise when it comes to phone numbers - when someone calls my Android phone, I see the name that I have set in my contact list. Hopefully this could be done with emails as well.

  • Did you check the user card that shows up when hovering over the email address of a message to see what shows up?
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 3:28
  • hmm, so this does not happen in Gmail browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc) version? (Without the hover)
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 3:45
  • Did you ever find a solution to this? I have the same problem with people that don't supply the correct info, or I know them by their nick name. I just overlooked an important email because the name displayed was . I've contacted them obviously and told them to fix it, but it would be nice if Gmail would do it for me. Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 14:03
  • @Larry: Nope, still no solution.
    – Questioner
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


Currently still no, and probably never. The name that is displayed when you receive an email is the name embedded into that emails from:header. BUT there are two workarounds that I can think of, hopefully one will help you!

Use Filters

One workaround solution is to filter the email address and apply a label to it. This can help if their name is causing any confusion (eg. I have 4 people called Mike)

The Pros of using this is that it will sync across all your computers and devices.

Use a Script

There is a script called DisplayName gmail that takes the contacts name (the one you have set in your contacts list) and displays that instead of their from: name.

You will need to install tampermonkey (Chrome) or greasemonkey (Firefox) and then you can install the script DisplayName gmail (tested and working with chrome).

The cons of using a script is that its not going to work across multiple computers - you would need to install the script on each computer you use. And this also work on your phone.

  • Damn... I'm sorry, I was going to award you the bounty for at least providing some helpful tips, but it expired and disappeared before I checked in on it. Nonetheless, your contributions are appreciated.
    – Questioner
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 5:41
  • The above script has been removed or taken down, a backup is here: web.archive.org/web/20131106023031/http://userscripts.org/… Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 5:11

If I understand your question correctly it sounds like you need to add every person to your contacts in Gmail as well as their additional email addresses. Because i just looked and tried. When I compose and start typing in a person's name, the drop down show the closest names as well as their email addresses.

Other than that you're talking about changing a user's (your contact's) settings which you can't do. You'll need to ask them to do that.

  • The only thing I can think of is actually add them to your contacts list and go through filling out the info. Not go by what is automatically stored. Manually go through.
    – Tremaine
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 23:49

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