So you want to sign up for Gmail (or change your username), but the Holy Grail of email addresses — Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com — is taken.
With more than 350 million users, it’s hard to grab a unique username on Gmail these days — especially one you can use for the long run. (Sorry XxXButt3rflyCuTee@gmail.com, it’s just not going to work out.)
But don’t despair entirely. Here are some tips for generating a viable and unique email address you’ll still want to use in three years.
1. Don’t Frustrate Yourself
Even if your desired address is no longer in use, you can’t get it. Gmail won’t let an identity be re-registered — ever. Instead of getting frustrated, move on to other options.
2. To Dot or Not to Dot
Despite the abundance of email addresses with firstname.lastname formatting, Gmail doesn’t distinguish between them. Emails like John.Smith and johnsmith and jo.hn.sm.ith are all the same username in Gmail’s eyes. This can work to your advantage or disadvantage.
If the email address you want is already taken in one format, it’s taken in all of them. But, with a little creative dot placement, you can turn an unclaimed username into one that works for you.
3. Get Creative
If you have a common name, try using your initials, middle name, or a nickname (though keep it memorable and professional). Some people have creative amalgamations of their names; Brandon Anderson becomes Branderson, for example. You can even add your profession in, like Marketer.Steve@gmail.com. Just avoid things that may be a little too weird or unprofessional for use down the line.
We also advise against putting your company in your personal username. You probably won’t be SterlingCooper.Peggy@gmail.com forever.
4. Register Your Own Domain
If this still isn’t working for you, you can register your own domain and use Google Apps instead.
Google Apps for Domains offers all functionality of a standard Google account (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Google+, etc.), but it’s mapped to a custom website. It costs about $10 to register your own domain and then set up Gmail as your email client.
Now you’ve got a cool email address like Jane@JaneDoe.com, but with all the Gmail goodness you’re used to.
5. Route Another Service Through Gmail
If you don’t want the trouble of setting up a custom domain but still want all those Googly features, you can set up an email address through a free service and route it through Gmail.
About.me is one great option. It comes with a handy About.me profile, which is a great web space for displaying your bio or portfolio. You can sync this to any Google account and use email@example.com as a Gmail address, assuming it’s available.
Got any ideas we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re already a Gmail power user, check out these tips and tricks to get the most out of your inbox.
1. Display Density
An easy fix, head to your Settings button and select a display density. "Compact" makes your inbox shrink down to a tidy, manageable list.