Gmail + Multiple Addresses Per Contact + Groups

gmaillogoOne feature that Gmail is lacking is the ability to send an email to multiple addresses for a single contact when using groups. Say you have a soccer team, each child has two parents with seperate email addresses. You put the child’s name in your contact list, add each parent’s email address, then create a group to send mass emails to your entire team. Gmail only includes the first (primary) email address per contact. You need to include both email addresses. Previously, you needed to add each child in multiple times so that each email address is seen as a primary. I have a simple fix to keep your contact list from growing too large!

In the first email line type in your first address. Follow that address, in the same line, with >, < then include your second address. It should look something like this [email protected]>, <[email protected]. I know, Gmail doesn’t like that when saving, but do it anyway. When Gmail adds your contact address to the To: line, the address is placed in brackets and seperated by a comma. In this way, you’re tricking Gmail into seeing two different addresses in the To: line. Gmail will automatically open the brackets on the first address and close the brackets on the second, or final. You just need to put the middle part in there so that both addresses are recognized as valid when the email is sent. Now, add your contact to the group you need and you’re all set.

Go ahead! I know you want to try it. Add yourself as a contact, add two emails for yourself (I know we all have a bazillion). Click your name from the contact list and email yourself.

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  1. Great idea. It does work. I was wondering if you knew how to be able to do the following:

    I have a contact with 2 e-mails. Home, work.
    I want to create 2 groups for these people. A home “group” and a “work group”. Is there a way to be able to select which e-mail from the contact to add to the group. I can do this now if I create 2 different contacts.

    Your help is appreciated.

  2. I’m not aware of a particular way to do what you’re asking, but doing it my way, it’s pretty easy to click on the To: line and delete the address you wish not to use.

  3. Fantastic! I run a soccer team and have been looking for a way to do this ever since gmail stopped you from being able to go back to their ‘old’ webmail.

    Note that this method also works for 3 (or more?!) addresses for those people that are particularly difficult to get hold of!

    I wish that the gmail team would sort this out it’s the only really BIG problem that I’ve got with gmail. This problem’s been there for ages and has been highlighted many times and yet is either being ignored or is too large to fix…

  4. Bravo! I have been looking for a resolution for this for sometime. Like Dan, I run a couple of soccer teams and don’t want to create duplicate entries. This works like a charm!

  5. My problem is a little different. I have organized my contact list into groups, in particular hospitals, thinking that when I sent an email to the group, it would send it to every person’s email in the list. Instead it appears to only send to the first email address in the group! What good is a group list if it doesn’t have the functionality to to be able to send to the group with 1 click! Is there a way around this? Or should I try the fix you indicated for the same name 2 email addresses problem?

    1. Judy, beyond that, I truly don’t know what your issue could be. If all the addresses are showing in the To: line, then all should receive the email unless it’s being blocked somewhere along the way.

  6. It does work !
    I have a dist list, with many ppl requestig it be sent to both work and home addresses… and we didnt want to create to seperate contacts, as that would give an incorrect number of people in our group.
    Thanks to the original poster !!!

  7. Informative article. Thanks! Well that makes sense. I only use email for my line of work. I preferably work with Outlook as my email client and with the help of Email Sorter Wizard, an Outlook add-on, I get all my e-mail managed. Take care and keep on blogging.

  8. I agree with the above comment. The internet is with a doubt growing into the most important medium of communication across the globe and it is due to sites like this that ideas are spreading so quickly. Being an entrepreneur I use Microsoft Outlook email as my preferred means of correspondence; communicating with peers, team members, customers. Email Sorter Wizard, a great – but inexpensive – Outlook plugin, helps me to organize email, fast and easy – to save valuable time. You can read about this add-on here: — P.S.: Have you heard of yet? Changing The Present – Help make the world a better place. 🙂 Many thanks again and keep up the genuine work and much success in your business endeavors!

  9. Hi

    Great information. Gmail is lacking is the ability to send an email to multiple addresses for a single contact when using groups and each child has two parents with seperate email addresses.

  10. This in theory should work – and I understand it has in the past for many people. I however after much poking and prodding with spacing and such was unable to get it to work. I tried both with my Google Apps account and Gmail accounts – the same results each time. When typing the contact name I was prompted with < OR the secondary that was < or the like. Gmail would not successfully recognize the exploit as one e-mail address. If anyone has any comments or suggestions on what I could be doing wrong I welcome the advice. In the meantime I am creating a 2nd group of contacts for “secondary email addresses” and will make that work for now. ps: I did also try and revert to the “older version”.

  11. Just a note – in my case, at least, after applying this trick of separating the addresses by >,< in the contact info, I had to log out and back in again before the change took effect.

    Great workaround to a silly problem.

  12. Found this rather helpful hint on the Google help Forums that helps those that want to specify a specific email address for a given contact with multiple email addresses in a Group. It’s a workaround and Google still need to extract the digit and get it fixed, but it’ll do in the mean time.

    “Gmail used to have the functionality of choosing which of a contact’s multiple addresses are to be added to a group (rather than only the first one). I had lots of problems sending group emails to the field hockey team I was coaching as players checked their different email addresses at different times.

    The best (and only) way to use this functionality of choosing from multiple email addresses for contacts when creating new groups is, firstly make sure your Contacts are up to date – merge any double-ups etc using the Merge Contacts function (which appears when you select more than one contact from your search results). Delete any obsolete email addresses for your contacts;

    THEN click on the ‘older version’ link at the very bottom of the gmail page. This will take you to the older version of gmail which still has the (far better) group contacts functionality;

    THEN go to Groups, choose the email group you were creating and as you type contact’s names into the large search box and the older style autocomplete will come up with their multiple email address, which you can then select and have added to the Group.

    Once you have finished, save the Group and then go back the current version of gmail.

    Problem solved but only as long as the older version of gmail accessed by the link, is still accessible. I suggest Google combined the functionality of the older version with the new version. After all, despite what SN says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

  13. Awesome! I spent the last hour trying to figure out how to do this and ran out of ideas. You are a genuis!!!
    Exact same situation; I have a team list with parents email addresses as contacts.
    I’m going to try it now.

  14. I have multiple emails for one company contact and the first email address is defaulting as the contact name. Every email I send to the other email addresses defaults to the primary name but the email address is correct, with the different recipients. When people get the email it shows the primary name but to their address. Any thoughts?

  15. I am building multiple groups for our scout troop (parents, committee, boys). I plan to export the groups and send them to other committee members so we all have the same lists.

    Will the above trick to deal with multiple addresses for one name cause import problems for others?

    1. I’ve not exported/imported my contact list, but my Palm Pre Plus cell phone pulls my contact list from Google. I just tested sending an email to the identity to which I had assigned two email addresses, only the first received the email sent from the phone. I was using the phone’s email system, so it’s formatting is likely different from Gmail’s. I would guess that as long as everyone is using Gmail, then this formatting wouldn’t cause any issues. Gmail uses < and > around email addresses, where other mail clients might use something else.

  16. I have a unique situation that may challenge some…

    I have a staff of 25 and am trying to form TWO groups, as follows: 1) to send normal length follow up information… sent only to primary email address. 2) to send a text (via an email address ex: [email protected])… sent only to the second or third email address (as viewed from Outlook).

    Any help appreciated. If gmail is not up to the task… any other suggestions?


  17. Well, it’s almost 2 years since the last comment, and sure enough, this is still the only way to accomplish this that I have found. It worked great after I exited gmail and came back to it. Thanks so much…

  18. I have found another way to make this work. I have put together a “Group” of contacts using gmail. All of the recipients in the group have multiple email addresses that I want to send to. What I have found to work the best does NOT involve checkmarking each person I want to email. Instead, I compose a new email and in the recipient address I type the name of the email group (i.e. Soccer team and all addresses for all recipients appears. Hope this helps.

  19. This is a problem that has originated in September,2012.

    Contacts list is on the fritz. : When temp files, history,cookies are deleted through Internet options ( I am using Windows 7, I.E. 9) the contact list for forwarding mail wil work for one email only and not for other emails that you want to forward. It stops working and you have to insert email addresses via to:, cc:,bcc manually until you use Internet Option to delete again. Then it will only work for one email only again!

  20. Well I did not read the all the messages above before trying and must add YOU MUSt LOG OUT and LOG IN for the change to take place or it will not work at first.

    THANKS. all works now.

  21. I noticed something.

    if I have a contact named John Smith whose email is [email protected] and I send him an email it goes out as “John Smith” <[email protected] When he responds I know it is from him because his quoted name appears.

    But when I added the multiple emails from above like this "John Smith" , i see that when they respond from the 2nd email I do not know who it was from because the quoted name is not next to it.

    Any ideas on this?


  22. Thanks for the solution, it works fine when fixing in gmail with the >,<

    BUT my problem is when importing from Excel CSV file my contact list from another program, it puts multiple email addresses divided with a coma only,
    I do that often since my list of approximately 500 volunteers are in a program where its being updated by the volunteers themselves, then i import into gmail,.
    maybe you have an idea of hoe to import from Excel into gmail the right way without having to look for all multi addresses

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