I know you can filter emails in Gmail by utilizing plus signs (e.g., [email protected]). But is there a way to filter for the opposite - that is, include emails in gmail only where a plus sign is included (and regardless of what it is)? E.g., only show [email protected] or [email protected], but not [email protected]?

  • I assume you're referring to gmail's filter mechanism?
    – JW8
    May 18, 2012 at 21:47
  • If you mean you want to filter f.e. the e-mail address [email protected] then the answer is that e-mail addresses cannot contain + signs. If you didn't meant this, your question is formulated quite weirdly... Jun 21, 2012 at 20:31
  • 6
    @stevenroose: You certainly can use plus signs in email addresses. webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/2593/…
    – ale
    Jun 22, 2012 at 2:53
  • Alas, there is no wildcard search in Gmail. I had hoped that something like to:bob+*@gmail.com would work, but it doesn't.
    – ale
    Jun 22, 2012 at 2:58
  • @AlEverett Wow, didn't know that. I saw it here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_address Jun 22, 2012 at 8:45

3 Answers 3


You can try creating a filter for each of these foo+xxx@ addresses. Example:

Create a filter with on the To: field for [email protected] OR [email protected]

Use the filter to apply a label and then you can just view emails under this label.

It's not very scalable if you have a lot of these types of address to filter on, but it will work if there are only a handful, and it will prevent you from having to run a script.


You could search for all emails addressed to [email protected] (which would not return [email protected]), apply a label to them, and then filter for all email without that label.

This will also pick up emails that you receive at addresses other than bob, but if there are a limited number of such addresses you could also search for them and apply the same label.

  • 1
    This isn't going to cover things like mailing lists where the recipient's email address doesn't appear in the To: header at all.
    – ale
    Oct 6, 2012 at 5:22
  • 1
    @octern "search for all emails addressed to [email protected] (which would not return [email protected])": not true. I am guessing you didn't test it. I just tested this with (the equivalent of) "to:me", "to:[email protected]", and even "deliveredto:[email protected]", and they all returned all converstations with e-mails to me, with and without + addresses.
    – A.M.
    Jul 17, 2013 at 20:27
  • I seem to recall using this method in the past. It might have changed since then. Either way, this was never a great solution and now it's a nonfunctional one.
    – octern
    Jul 19, 2013 at 1:19

You can use -

It is used to exclude terms from your search.

Example: nerd -dinner

Meaning: Messages that contain the word "nerd" but do not contain the word "dinner".

Try it. You can read better on Google Support.

  • 1
    -1 as this doesn't work for addresses, which is what the original poster asked. Aug 28, 2012 at 15:18

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