How To Sort Email Using Address Extensions

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Email can be addressed to you in one of two ways:

  • to your standard email address: (e.g.,
  • to an extended email address: (e.g.,

Both address forms are recognized as being for you. The difference is that the mail server can be told to do different processing for mail addressed to your extended email address based on the extension. The delimiter separating your username and the extension is the + (plus) character. You can use as many different extensions as you like: all the email will still be delivered to you.

One particularly handy use of extended usernames is automatic sorting of your incoming email. (Please note: this will only work for those people who have chosen to use Maildirs).

Suppose you are interested in subscribing to the bugtraq mailing list. If you subscribe with, and you place a file named .forward+bugtraq file in your home directory containing:


Then email from the bugtraq mailing list would be sorted into your bugtraq folder automatically. No more bugtraq emails cluttering your normal inbox!

NB: the trailing slash on ~/Maildir/.bugtraq/ tells the mail server to deliver to a Maildir-formatted mailbox.

See Also