My question is a bit like How do I handle my personal email address spreading like a virus at work?, however it is more complicated.

I am writing a master thesis at an university. For all my prior studying, I have used my personal email address whenever I contacted my supervisor or other people at the university. For the master thesis, an institute email address has been set up for me. I try to use that for all the communication related to my master thesis. The same pattern happened to me for a side job: I would apply with my personal email and then would get the company email only later on. But then my personal email address had it made into the address books already.

Now I would like to have all the master thesis related emails in the institute email. However, the group I work in knows me from before and they all have my personal email address. Since both email addresses are in their address books, I get emails to both accounts. It also happens that I get CC'ed in emails to people who did not know me before, and those people will then have my personal email first.

Before I had the institute email address, writing to my personal email was the right thing, so nobody did anything wrong in that sense. Then I do not know whether I will get to keep the institute email forever, so I'd like to let my colleges keep my personal email for personal matters.

What would be a good way of inducing this transition?

  • Mass mailing everyone at the same time will lead to a global change and all those “reply all chains” will get changed. However, it might annoy people. Also I am not exactly sure who has my personal email address.
  • Every email that goes into my personal inbox will be replied from the institute address. I'll add something like “please send further emails to the institute address“ at the top so gradually everyone can update. This will take a while and probably not reach everyone but improve the situation.
  • Say/write nothing and just create filter rules. Emails from the institute email addresses to the personal one just get moved to the institute account. I would not have to ask people to change their address books, but the number of email addresses in the filter list will grow over time.

I am leaning toward the second option, perhaps there is something better?

  • 6
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about email forwarding, not navigating the workplace.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 11:49

2 Answers 2


I'd set up an answer that looks like an automatically generated answer and send to everyone that mails your private mail with institute stuff, with CC to your institute mail adress. If people dont get it, send more. In general, autogenerated messages annoy people and they will seek to avoid annoyance, and behave like you want them to - update their contact information.

Dear Sir/Madam

Your message has been forwarded to [email protected]. The current mail adress is not applicable for urgent matters, official or work related issues. Please update your contact information.

Sincerely, YourName

PS: This is an auto-generated email. Do not reply.

This has the appearance of an automatic mail, so nobody will take offense of the formal and direct language (or, not very much at least) and it will have a good shot at people understanding it. Please disregard or correct eventual spelling errors, english is not my first language and formal english can be a bit tricky. I hope you got the idea at least.

  • 3
    And depending on your email client, you may be able to set it up to actually auto-reply to all emails from a certain domain or list of senders.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 13:13
  • This is actually what I did. I set that up as a filter rule with my email provider directly and just replied to all emails from the institute, asking to use my institute email instead. This has worked well. There are a few GitHub repositories which are also set up with my personal account, I just use sorting rules now and that is fine too. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 15:01

In future a better solution is to make a separate email address for things like this. I have 3 for instance. One for work, one personal, and one I use for pretty much anything else like Stack Exchange etc,.

In your case however, informing people proactively is the best way. This happens, people understand. It's not annoying to tell them you have an email address they need to use. It's just part of communicating these days.

So reply to work related emails using the work address, and let them know this is the one to use. It will take a bit of time, but everyone will start using it.

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