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January 8, 2015

Technology Corner: New email system = new capabilities


Last summer CSSD implemented a new email system for University faculty, staff and students. My Pitt Email is a Microsoft Exchange-based service that offers a number of new opportunities.

For instance, scheduling meetings or appointments with other members of the Pitt community is easier now. Instead of circulating a paper sign-up sheet for mid-term conferences this fall, some instructors took advantage of the new system’s capability and asked students to put their conference appointments directly on the instructor’s calendar. Using this approach, both the student and the instructor had the meeting marked on their calendars.

This month, CSSD will begin to offer members of the Pitt community a new capability — the opportunity to personalize their email addresses by adding an email address (“alias”) that they choose.

Email aliases

When people join the University as faculty, staff or students, a user account is established for them. The rubric for the username on these accounts is a person’s initials followed by a number, and so the established email address becomes that collection of initials and numbers followed by

While that algorithm works well for ensuring that each username is unique, we recognize that these usernames are not necessarily intuitive. Using an email alias allows you to provide a personalized email address that is easier to remember or recite.

An email alias is a pseudonym for your established Pitt email address. Email messages sent to you at your established Pitt email address (e.g. and messages sent to you at your alias (e.g. go to the same inbox.

Choosing your personalized email address

Many people may want to have a Pitt email address that includes their given names: or Alias names like this are easy for others to remember and easy for you to use when giving out your address.

But you also may want a Pitt email address that references your academic life. For example, you may want to give your students an address that includes your title or department — or — or give professional colleagues an address that references your area of expertise:

When choosing an email alias, you’ll need to keep in mind that:

• You’ll be able to create two aliases for yourself during your career at Pitt.

• Once an alias is in use, it will be associated with you and cannot be transferred to another user. For this reason, it would be unwise to personalize your Pitt email address as, since the role identified in that alias typically is one that changes hands periodically.

• Pitt account names established for users are not recycled; email aliases will not be recycled either. Once that alias has been created, it will not be available for someone else to use at a later date.

• Email aliases will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. When you log in to create an alias for your email account, you can check to see whether that name is available. If someone else has used it, you will need to create a different alias. If someone else is using an alias that is very close to yours, you may wish to create an alias that is noticeably different to avoid confusion.

The fine print

• Login credentials. The alias is a pseudonym for your Pitt email address and does not change your official Pitt username and password. You will still log in to My Pitt and other Pitt online services using your established username and password.

• Reading email sent to you. Setting up an alias for your Pitt email address will not change where you read email sent to your Pitt account. If you currently read your Pitt email via My Pitt Email on Exchange, you will continue to log in and read email the same way you do today. If you currently read your Pitt email through a non-Pitt account to which your Pitt emails have been forwarded (such as a gmail account), you will continue to read your Pitt email there in the same way, whether that message has been sent to or

• The “From” line. If you select an email alias, you can choose which name shows up in the “From” line when you send an email message. You may wish to simply keep your established Pitt username as your primary address from which your messages will come, but you could also select one of your aliases (e.g. as the primary address.

• Alias criteria. The alias you set up for your Pitt email address should be professional in its representation of you and the University. An alias can contain letters, numbers, periods, dashes and underscores.

The alias address must be at least eight characters long, unless the alias includes a period, dash or underscore, in which case it can be as short as five characters.

It probably goes without saying, but despite some connotations of the “alias” term, a Pitt email alias cannot be used to deliberately misrepresent your identity.

Where to go to set up a Pitt email alias

Pitt faculty, staff and students can create email aliases through My Pitt. After logging in to, you’ll see a link to Manage My Account in the left column. From that accounts page, you can set email preferences, including email aliases.

CSSD’s website — — includes additional details and instructions for faculty and staff who are interested in learning more about using email aliases for their Pitt email addresses.

Dan Menicucci is an enterprise architect in CSSD, helping to make the most effective and strategic use of Pitt’s IT assets.