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Moodle and Totara tip: When your users don't have email accounts

In some scenarios users don’t have email accounts. This might be because they don’t need them in their role at work, they’re too young, or the company only provides email accounts for a location (e.g. ''). We hear of companies where internal charging for email accounts ranges from £50 to £200 per annum – which is not a great incentive to adopt online learning!

Moodle user accounts can be created with email addresses that already exist on the system. However, this creates challenges for day-to-day administration e.g. when manually updating a user account or if a user tries to retrieve their password. Also if users don’t have individual accounts other options are potentially affected, such as forum subscriptions, messages, and other notifications (e.g. badges and assignments).

As a solution there is a trick you can use with Gmail accounts to add the user’s name with a + symbol in the email address. For example, if the site administrator wants to use the email '' and the user’s name is 'Angie' then '' will be recognised as a different email address in Moodle and all emails will be sent to the '' Gmail account.

Of course, you could set up lots of fake email accounts for users and redirect them as required.

Moodle 3.0 introduces another option – the ability to allow accounts to share the same email address. This is available on the “Manage authentication” page for site administrators: Site administration > Plugins > Authentication > Manage authentication.


This new setting is 'off' by default and it’s ideal if each user does have an individual account but if that’s a real problem this new feature might help.

Need further help? Get in touch with our experts on 0330 660 1111 or contact us here.

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