Get Name from an Email Address with JavaScript


Let's talk about extracting names from email addresses using JavaScript. This can be useful when you're dealing with bulk data and need to personalize your communication. For instance, you might want to send out a mass email to your users but address each one by their name. Let's see how we can do this.

Email Address Structure

Before we get into the JavaScript solution, let's first understand the structure of an email address. A basic email address consists of two parts separated by an '@' symbol - the local part and the domain part. The local part is usually the name of the individual or service, while the domain part represents the domain where the email is hosted.

A typical email address looks like this: [email protected]. However, email addresses can also come in other formats such as Name <[email protected]>. In this case, the name of the individual is separated from the email address by a pair of angle brackets.

The JavaScript Approach

JavaScript provides several built-in methods and regular expressions that we can use to extract the name from an email address. We will be exploring two of these methods in this Byte - the split() method and regular expressions.

Using String Split Method

The split() method divides a String into an ordered list of substrings, puts these substrings into an array, and returns the array. The division is done by searching for a pattern where the pattern is provided as the first parameter in the method's call.

Here's how we can use the split() method to extract the name from an email address:

let email = "Scott <[email protected]>";
let name = email.split('<')[0].trim();
console.log(name);  // Output: Scott

In this example, we're splitting the email string at the '<' character, which gives us an array of two elements. The first element is "Scott ", and the second one is [email protected]>. We then use the trim() method to remove the trailing space from the first element, which gives us the name "Scott".

But what if the email address doesn't contain angle brackets? In that case, we can split the string at the '@' character:

let email = "[email protected]";
let name = email.split('@')[0];
console.log(name);  // Output: scott

This method is simple and works well for most email formats. However, it may not work as expected for some unusual email formats.

One thing you'll need to account for is first checking what format the email address is in. Since it can take on a few different forms, you'll need to have a robust method for first determining what the format is.

Using Regular Expressions

Regular expressions, or regex, are sequences of characters that define a search pattern. In JavaScript, we can use them to extract the name from an email address. Again we'll consider an email address in the format of Name <[email protected]>, for example, Scott <[email protected]>.

The regex we'll use is /.*(?=<)/. This pattern will match any character until it hits the < symbol, which is the delimiter between the name and the email in our format.

Here is a simple function that uses this regex to get the name from the email:

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function getNameFromEmail(email) {
    const regex = /.*(?=<)/;
    const match = email.match(regex);
    return match ? match[0].trim() : null;

console.log(getNameFromEmail("Scott <[email protected]>"));  // Output: "Scott"

The match() method returns the matched string, or null if no match was found. We then use the trim() method to remove any leading or trailing spaces.

Using Third-Party Libraries

If you're looking to save time and avoid reinventing the wheel (which I'd highly recommend), there are a number of third-party libraries that can help extract names from email addresses. One popular option is the email-addresses library. This library provides a robust set of tools for parsing email addresses, including extracting names.

Here's an example of how you might use it:

const emailAddress = require('email-addresses');

let email = 'Scott <[email protected]>';
let parsedEmail = emailAddress.parseOneAddress(email);

console.log(; // Outputs: Scott

In this example, we're using the parseOneAddress function from the email-addresses library to parse the email address. Then we simply log the name property of the returned object.

For what it's worth, this is the library I use for the Block Sender service, and it's served me well for a long time. I'd recommend it for any non-trivial email parsing needs.

Potential Errors and Their Solutions

While the above method works fine for standard email formats, it might not work as expected with unusual or invalid email formats. For example, if the email doesn't contain a < symbol, the match() method will return null, and we'll have no name to return.

Handling Invalid Email Formats

If an email address is not in the expected format, our function will return null. As we touched on earlier in this Byte, we can add simple checks at the beginning of our function to check its format:

function getNameFromEmail(email) {
    if (!email.includes('<')) {
        return null;
    const regex = /.*(?=<)/;
    const match = email.match(regex);
    return match ? match[0].trim() : null;

console.log(getNameFromEmail("[email protected]"));  // Output: null

Now, if the email doesn't contain a < symbol, the function will immediately return null.

Dealing with Unusual Email Formats

Sometimes, you might come across unusual email formats. For instance, the name might contain special characters, or the email might use a different delimiter. In such cases, you'll need to modify your regex or write a custom function to handle these cases.

Let's consider an email format where the name is enclosed in square brackets, for example, "[Scott] [email protected]". Our previous function won't work here, but we can easily modify the regex to handle this:

function getNameFromEmail(email) {
    const regex = /\[(.*?)\]/;
    const match = email.match(regex);
    return match ? match[1].trim() : null;

console.log(getNameFromEmail("[Scott] [email protected]"));  // Output: "Scott"

While this may not be a standardized address form, you'd be surprised at how many different formats of emails are out there, standardized or not. If you're going to be handling a large number of emails, especially those not from popular and conforming email services like G Suite, you'll need to invest time in catching all edge cases.


In this Byte, we've explored various ways to extract a name from an email address using JavaScript. We've looked at built-in JavaScript methods, regular expressions, and even third-party libraries. We've also discussed potential issues with non-standard formats. Hopefully you've found a method that works well for your use-case.

Last Updated: October 12th, 2023
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