I was quite early with registering my Gmail account and I got a nice and clean baker@gmail.com address. Apparently all mails end up on my account when people make simple mistakes in typing the intended e-mail address. So I receive several legitimate mails each month from people that did not intend to mail me; people that I don't know and have no desire to know.

If it where snail mail, I'd write Undeliverable or Wrong address over the envelope and put it back in the outgoing mail box. Now I'm looking for a way to do the same for e-mail.

How can I show the sender of an e-mail that the e-mail address is wrong without revealing my identity?

Any solution involving a Gmail feature, third-party application, or manipulation of the SMTP protocol is acceptable (I can program it if it doesn't exist already), as long as it works from Windows.

I used to reply along the lines of: You sent this e-mail to the wrong address. You sent it to baker@gmail.com but you probably meant baker1@gmail.com. Kind regards, Marilyn Baker, revealing that my e-mail address is valid and who I was, and then they'd reply: Hey you have the same surname. You guys must surely be distantly related. Bla bla bla... John Baker is my husband, let's meet up... Bla bla. Anna Baker-Field

All names and e-mail addresses are fake.

  • I guess a reply from "Mailer deamon" with subject "E-mail address incorrect or non-existent" is not good enough? (You can set/fake user names in email. You can also set a reply to address to something else than your mailaccount, so if they try to reply to the 'mailer deamon mail' then it end up elsewhere.) – Hennes Mar 19 '13 at 18:39
  • @Hennes Yes it might be good enough. But I'm not sure how to get a daemon to do that for me, or how to simulate it without getting my own e-mail addres and name in the From field. – Virtlink Mar 19 '13 at 18:48
  • The from field is set to what you enter in it. (Or what your mail client automatically sets it to). You can decide its contents, so if you want to be called "mailer deamon" then that is no technical problem. However the headers in the mail will still show that where the mail came from you, so if someone takes some effort then they still know that the email address is real. (If I know how to mask that I would have posted a longer version of my comment as an answer :) ). – Hennes Mar 19 '13 at 19:04
  • Is this entirely a question of concealing your “real name”? Because the sender already knows your e-mail address. If you communicate to them by any means whatsoever (including non-Internet channels such as snail mail and plain old telephone) that the message that they sent on date X with subject Y was misaddressed, all they have to do is look in their Sent folder to see what address it was sent to. As to concealing your real name –– I’m not very familiar with Gmail, but many e-mail services allow you to set your “From name”. Have you looked through your Gmail settings? – Scott Mar 19 '13 at 19:34
  • @Scott If you get a reply from, for example, a mailer daemon... then you don't know whether the destination e-mail address exists. I believe the daemon even does not put that address in the From field. If I reply, you do know the address exists and my address is in the From field. I can probably change my From name in Google, but as this is not a one-time thing I'd rather keep my name the way it is. – Virtlink Mar 19 '13 at 19:42

You can programmatically do this using Gmail's API and a PHP script in a crontab. I have done this for reading emails sent to me from a credit card processor. Check out this site's how-to for some of the details.

Next, I'd put info in a MySQL DB, because I do that for everything I do.

Then use a PHP script and Gmail as a sender to send them a boilerplate email with your own From, From Name, and Reply-To addresses embedded. IMHO, for this get a baker.noreply@gmail.com email address and use their SMTP sender to do this. Here's an example of how to do this.


Would an auto-reply or rule from a client such as Outlook work with a default failed NDM template?

  • It doesn't have to be an auto-reply. But even then my e-mail address and name would still be at the top (like for any e-mail), right? That's what I don't want. – Virtlink Mar 19 '13 at 18:40
  • I guess you mean “Non-Deliverable Message” by “NDM”. You might want to spell that out (or find a more common acronym); that acronym isn’t widely known. – Scott Mar 19 '13 at 19:10
  • Yes sorry that is correct Scott – Ben Lavender Mar 19 '13 at 19:11

I have a similar issue. If you go into the Google "Labs" section there is a "Canned Response" lab which you can enable. Once you do this set-up a mailer-daemon@ template e-mail and then you can set-up some e-mail filter rules which will automatically respond with the canned response you setup.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.