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How Do I Find Someone’s Email Address?

How do I find out my friend’s email address?

I’d like to get in touch with my old college roommate. How do I find out her email address?

I’m trying to get in touch with a business contact, but I’ve lost his email address. How can I find it again?

As you can tell, I get variations of this question often. Most people know someone and want to send them email, but don’t have their email address.

I’ll be blunt. Nine times out of ten, you’re out of luck.

But sometimes, you get lucky.

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There’s no central database of email addresses. The best options are generic internet searches with as much information as you have, or searching social network sites. In most cases, people must want to be found for those to be successful. There are services that may find people, but they should be used with caution.

It won’t be easy

Search Finding someone’s email address is hard for several reasons:

  • There’s no central database or “phone book” for the internet. An exhaustive search could have you looking in tens or hundreds of resources.
  • The planet is bigger than you think. If all you have is a name, that’s not enough. There could be thousands of people with the same name. In most cases, you’ll need more.
  • Not everyone wants to be found. It’s easy to set up a free email account with information having nothing to do with who you really are. So even if you know a lot about the person you’re trying to find, they still may not be findable.
  • Not everyone has, or uses, email.1

What’s worth trying?

My first reaction is almost always Google. Google might take you straight to many people. For example, at this writing, searching Google for me, Leo Notenboom, will get you several pages of results that are all right on target2. If you’re looking for a different Leo Notenboom you’ll need to do more work to narrow down your results. I still dominate “Leo Notenboom Netherlands”, at least when searching within the U.S., but it does start to list some of the others.

Now, I have a relatively unique name and a big footprint on the internet. If you’re looking for a more common name (say “John Smith”), you have a lot of work ahead of you. You’ll need much more information to narrow down your search to which John Smith you’re trying to locate. You could include anything from the city he lives in, the place he works, the school he went to — anything that might help narrow down the search. Even then, you’re unlikely to get the right person unless they already have an internet presence and your information matches really well.

Occasionally, I look for the best man at my wedding, whom I’ve lost contact with over the years. His name is somewhere in the middle — not as unique as mine, but certainly not as generic as “John Smith.” I have yet to find him. I keep finding people with the same names in other places, but they are obviously not him.

Searching the services

If they want to be found and you suspect they have accounts with major online services or social media, it might be worth searching those services. If their place of business has a directory, that might be worth a look.

What’s important to note is that for member directories to work, the person must want to be found. Even if they have an account, they may elect to keep their information obfuscated or private, and searching the directory will do you no good.

Finally, there are services that claim to be able to find out all sorts of information about people. These are mostly culled from public records also accessible elsewhere. I’ve never used one and cannot recommend any specifically. What I can recommend is that you be cautious! Some — though certainly not all — are scams, others promise much and deliver little, and others might claim to be free, but when it comes time to deliver the information, payment is required.

In a nutshell, I’ll reiterate: it’s often practically impossible to locate someone’s email address. You can get lucky, but it’s rare, and can often require a fair amount of effort and legwork.

Important: Do not post comments to this article with “I’m looking for some name‘s email address. Please help me.” Please read the article above. Posting people’s names and personal information here will not help, and it violates the privacy of the person you’re trying to locate. Such comments will be deleted.

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Leo

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Footnotes & References

1: Originally I was referring to folks who simply haven’t gotten online yet, or who simply don’t care to. The more common thought these days is that younger people are moving away from email as their primary communications method. While that might be true for children and adolescents, by the time they get to the workplace, or if they need to set up any of a number of online services, they’ll have an email address of some sort. How closely they pay attention to it is another matter.

2: The first result that isn’t me is still pretty close: it’s the obituary for my father — also Leo.

26 comments on “How Do I Find Someone’s Email Address?”

  1. Also worth noting are themed directories that people register with, such as linkedin.com (past co-workers) and classmates.com (former school friends) as well as individual alumni sites for the schools you attended. I located a couple of college friends through an online alumni directory run by the university I attended.

    Additionally, sending out a call to friends you and this person may have had in common also helps. Considering the “six degrees of separation” theory. It’s possible that someone you know has the contact info for the person you’re seeking or they might know someone who does.

    – Greg

    Reply
  2. I need to find a hotmail address, i know its simply a name and i know the persons first name but can’t remember how to spell the second, i would recognise it if i saw it in a list. Can such a list be found? Thanks

    Reply
    • In a way, Google might help. If you type in the misspelled name, Google often comes up with alternative spellings. When I Google my name, I get several pages of a fashion designer who spells his name differently from mine 🙂

      Reply
  3. I recently found a long lost friend on Myspace, although they haven’t logged into their account in quite some time. I was wondering if there was a way to find out which email address they used when logging into their Myspace account? That way I would be able to email them directly instead of trying to contact them with the Myspace account they never use.
    Thanks,
    Dahlia

    Reply
  4. 1. Yes, as mentioned in the article, do Google search.

    Do a search in several different ways : variations of the persons last, first, middle names, state, country, etc. Today, search engines contain billions of records listed MySpace, forums, blogs, etc.

    2. Here’s another free people and email address search resources :

    http://www.anywho.com
    http://www.people.yahoo.com
    http://www.whitepages.com

    Find the person with military, college or professional affiliations :
    http://www.militaryconnections.com – for military personnel
    http://www.facebook.com – find college students.

    or by high school
    http://www.classmates.com
    http://www.reunion.com

    Reply
  5. How do you obtain the hotmail member directory? I was trying to email this person and accidentally discarded my draft. All i remember is the first word of the email addy and their first name.

    I’m not aware of a Hotmail member directory. It would be a resource that spammers would use to send Hotmail accounts even more spam than they get already. Regardless, even if there were one, I’d also guess most people would opt-out, or use obfuscated information.

    -Leo

    Reply
  6. Can you find out someone’s e-mail address if you have their myspace URL?? The person has their account set up so that you have to know their e-mail address in order to friend request them…Is there anyway around that???

    No.

    Leo
    17-Dec-2009

    Reply
  7. I found someone recently opened an account in MyLife ,using one of my e-mail addresses. none of the info matched but the address. How did this person get it? Haven’t used it in years but it’s still mine…when you click on that person’s name, which there are several listed, it now goes to MY information and name. I think it is for ID theft, linking their name to my address so my info will pop up when a thief needs the info. What do you think?Had MyLife delete it but it was set up 1 1/2 months ago…

    Well, it’s certainly easy to do. I have no idea what the legal ramifications are, if any.

    Leo
    30-Oct-2010

    Reply
  8. Also, what good is finding someones’ e-mail address? Think most people will be sent to junk mail, since the person is not expecting that contact. I think most want it to spam the holder of the address. Anyone looking for someone should find out where they worked, find a person who knew them( old boss?), and see if THEY can initiate contact. Stalkers and ex-cons look for ways to contact people who moved away,too, it’s not all innocent inquiry.

    Reply
  9. Excellent article, Leo! I spent most of a day trying to get an email address of an old friend & I have her prior address, phone #, city & state, even her age & all I get are , I believe, come-ons or bait to purchase info that I already have. You’re right about it being nearly impossible to obtain email addresses. I think I’ll try another approach, like calling that old phone # (LOL). Keep up the great articles!

    Reply
  10. I once tried to find an old high school friend with whom I had lost contact, and his parents had since moved from their old home. Fortunately, it was a relatively uncommon name and spelling. I found several people with that name, and picked the one that sounded “most likely correct”, based on the information given.

    In order to sound very “non-spammy”, I started the e-mail with “My name is [my_name], and I went to [school] with [name] back in [years]. If you are the correct [name], please let me know. And if you’re not, please let me know, too, and I won’t contact you again.”

    Reply
    • Bernard,
      That’s pretty cool. Also a good way for people to search and see what is posted to the internet about them.

      Reply
  11. Hello sir i hope you to help me.sir some time ago i buy a iphone mobile then when i restart my phone then it was disabled then the system require the email address of this phone owner and now i want to find the account of my phone owner his email is(s…..@hotmail.com)if you can to help then i will be very happy with you i am waiting hopfuly……….

    Reply
  12. I save myself the the time and hassle of jumping from site to site and use Emailfinder.com. You can search email addresses, phone numbers, street addresses and other things. I’ve had fairly good success with it. It’s about $23 a year. Just keep in mind what Leo wrote — you won’t hit paydirt unless the person has their info out there. Another thing — put your name and your association with the person in the Subject heading so the recipient knows it’s you from the get-go: “From John Doe, Hard Nox University.” You get the idea. And don’t behave like a stalker. If the person doesn’t respond after a follow-up email, drop it.

    Reply
  13. I use phone numbers and mailing addresses to Google for people. It narrows the search down to an area and often you will find flyers for the PTA or some other group that list an email and phone number to contact. Also, if they go in front of their City Council or other public group the minutes will list their name and address. If I have a phone number or address then I Google for that with an @ symbol. That helps find email addresses for that name, phone number or address. Even better if you can add the ending like @Hotmail.com or @AOL.com etc..

    Reply
  14. I have read the above but my query relates to locating an email address, I have recently been accused of sending an email to somebody whom I know no details, no name, address etc only possibly there surname. I have said that this is a completely ludicrous aligation as I presume it would be an almost physical impossibility to find the email out when I know no detail. This this correct or could an email be located as easy as these people think???

    Reply
  15. Hi..I wanna find my friends email address. I met her on Facebook and we became really good friends. But I don’t wanna run Facebook now..so I deactivated. Now there’s no way to contact her I miss her so much. I’m new here and I can’t understand some terms etc. Please help.

    Reply
  16. A few years ago, after much research, and some family facts at my disposal, I was finally able to locate accurate information about a long-lost sibling of my father, learning that she was now deceased. Her last living location having been established, I found the employment email of my cousin with whom I’ve never spoken but wanted to get to know. The email was at a government agency workplace. Unfortunately after all that research, and sending a detailed email with identifying family information, I never received the courtesy of a reply. Hit a brick wall after a lot of time spent. Indeed, some people just “don’t want to be found” as you say.

    Reply
    • That, and they may simply not trust the incoming message to be legitimate. We all get SO MUCH SPAM that it’s easy — and in fact quite right — to be skeptical.

      Heck, it’s even possible your message landed in the recipient’s spam folder without their ever seeing it.

      Or they might just not have wanted to be found. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Reply
    • Maybe if you write with more detail mentioning some information that only a relative of hers would know, she might be more willing to respond. Also, be careful to avoid language which might sound spammy. For example, long lost relative type language might provoke a spam filter as it might sound like a Nigerian Prince type of scam.

      Reply
  17. I’ve found literally (in the literal sense) of old friends on Facebook. I also found a few more on my college alumni website. Of course, those are people who want to be found but Facebook is the first place I’d look. You won’t get their email address anymore but you can reach them on Facebool of FB Messenger.

    Reply

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