Is it possible to set up an e-mail that has two separate accounts under the
same ID and make some emails go into one account and some into the other?
This question actually reflects a confusion I see all the time, so I want to
clear that up once and for all.
And of course as with any topic like this I also need to clarify the
exceptions to the rule.
And finally, while I don’t know exactly what it is you want to accomplish, I
can suggest a few ideas to perhaps mimic in some way some of the things that
might solve your problem.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Your Email Address IS Your Account ID
On 99% of the email systems we deal with every day, your email address is
your account ID. If you want a different email address you create a new
account. If you need to switch accounts you’ll end up with a new email
they’re really the same thing …”
Email address and “accounts” are inseparable because they’re really the same
thing most of the time.
Let’s say you have an email address firstname.lastname@example.org and you don’t like
it – you would rather have email@example.com – the answer is simple: you
create a new account. There’s no relationship between old and new. You can’t
change the email address of the account because the email address is the
account. A new email address is a new account.
And yes, that may be a hassle if you’re using a web interface to access your
email and want to transfer messages and contacts from one account to another.
But it is what it is.
In fact, that Hotmail email address is actually your account ID for a whole
host of services from Windows Live, including Messenger, Spaces, Skydrive and
much more – you login once using your email address as your ID, and you have
access to all those services, not just Hotmail.
The same is true for other services as well, including Google, Yahoo and
Email address is account ID. Account ID is email address. Can’t change one
without the other. Make a new one, you’ve made a new of the other as well.
Some ISPs give you a separate login to access their network which is your
account ID, and then allow you to associate some number of email addresses from
that ISP with that ID. I’ve only ever seen this with ISPs, and even then it
doesn’t appear to be very common.
I’m almost willing to bet that this is not your situation, particularly if
we’re talking on-line services like Hotmail, Gmail and the like.
Some email services allow you to add an identifier to your email address
that makes it look like a different email address, but still routes to the same
For example I might have:
And when subscribing to a newsletter I might use:
Both are the account “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and both are delivered to
the same inbox.
Not all services actually provide this functionality – in fact it remains
fairly rare. Check with your email service provider if they do anything like
As I said, I don’t know what specific problem you’re attempting to solve,
but I’ll throw out two very common solutions to the kind of division you’re
- An Additional Account: Even though it would be creating an
additional “ID”, to use your terms, creating an additional email address and
account is often the easiest and most expeditious solution to this kind of
problem. Separate email accounts typically mean separate inboxes, but you can
also use desktop email programs to download email from multiple accounts and
process them however you like. Which actually leads to the second possible
- Filter Incoming Mail: Most desktop email programs, and some
web services, allow you to filter or take action on email as it arrives. The
solution that comes to mind here is to pick some characteristic of incoming
email and automatically route that email to sub folders that you’ve set up.
Perhaps email with the word “Question” in the subject line would automatically
get placed in the “Questions” folder, while email from certain people would get
placed into some kind of “VIP” folder. There are quite literally unlimited
possibilities here. In desktop email programs, look for “filters” or “rules”.
Gmail includes filters which allow you to place labels on email based on
criteria you specify to the same effect.
And of course if you do use your desktop email program to access more than
one email account as in the first suggestion, or the different email addresses
on the same email account as in the second exception, you can always use
filters to route each account’s email into its own folder.
Hopefully one of those suggestions will address your specific situation.
Preemptive warning (’cause I know it’s coming): comments to
this article that ask how to change an account’s email address will be deleted.
Please re-read the article.