Services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix offer limited-time test runs, but if you’re ambitious enough, it doesn’t have to stop there. In fact, theoretically, you can continue using the service for free using a different email address after the trial period expires. Retailers — both online and off —also tend to demand an email address in order to take advantage of their offers, but that often results in an unwanted deluge of spammy corporate emails that could otherwise do without.
Disposable email addresses can help you more easily cut out those irritating messages you’re still receiving from Ancestry and Match.com after several years. Some of these services will allow you to create multiple email addresses and access them in the same window, while others will simply forward everything received at that address to your primary address, negating some of their usefulness. Below are some of our favorites sites for creating a disposable email address, so you can remain anonymous and abstain from an inbox burgeoning with advertisements for male enhancers, online degrees, and whatever else you probably don’t need in your life right now (or ever).
Updated on November 23, 2015, by Gabe Carey: Added new services such as 20minutemail and Bloody Vikings!, among others.
Non-forwarding disposable email services
While technically disposable, GuerrillaMail email addresses are also timeless. Each address can be tailored using one of nine different domain names and a custom inbox ID, much like a standard email address, making address options virtually limitless whether you rely on domain names like “sharklasers.com” or “spam4.me.”
Although the email address you choose at GuerrillaMail will never actually expire, recently-received emails that appear in your email inbox will automatically be deleted within an hour regardless if they’ve been viewed or not. Additional tools for encrypting your inbox ID and filtering unwanted spam is also built into the platform, as is a simple email composer. The service is capable of sending attachments up to 150 MB with little fanfare. Plus, if you’re on Android, there’s an app available for making faux email addresses on the fly.
When Mailinator boasts it’s “a different kind of email service on its site,” it’s not kidding around. The free service is unique on the Web, essentially offering a public address owned and accessible by anyone with an Internet connection. Instead of relying on a signup process or built-in creator like other services on our roundup, Mailinator creates an account for whatever email address you use as soon as an email arrives for that address.
For instance, if you register for a service with the address “firstname.lastname@example.org,” the site will create an account for that particular address if one doesn’t exist already. Afterward, you can navigate to the Mailinator’s homepage and type in your inbox of choice — as can anyone else since the inbox lacks any sort of password protection. Also, although emails are deleted from the system after a few hours, email addresses will remain intact indefinitely. However, keep in mind many mainstream sites like Facebook already block the well-known domain.
Ten minutes isn’t a lot of time, but it’s often more than enough to hand out your disposable email address to the masses. Ten Minute Mail isn’t swimming with features — it won’t even let you create your own custom address — but it instead revels in simplicity.
Once you arrive at the site’s homepage, it will provide you with an auto-generated email address that will expire after 10 minutes unless you opt for an additional 10 minutes using the short link below your given email address. Additionally, there are various inbox settings located at the bottom of the page for viewing messages and a link above your given email address for quickly copying the address to your clipboard. It’s riddled with ads and the interface certainly isn’t flashy, but hey, it gets the job done.
Similar to 10 Minute Mail, 20minutemail gives you the 10 extra minutes you need right off the bat. Likewise, it gives you a lot more versatility, allowing you to create your own custom user ID and revisit your account using a recovery key sent to your main email. The service offers a more modern appearance, one that won’t leave you cringing at the antiquated design during your brief, 20-minute session.
With an accompanying domain name like “fakeinbox.com,” this basic service clearly has nothing to hide. Users can choose either an auto-generated or custom username, but each will expire once the 60-minute doomsday clock at the bottom of the page hits zero. However, there are options for refreshing the email address’ lifespan and instantly deleting it, and the site offers the ability to reply to any email you receive within the 60 minute time limit Note that the site does come with a few banner ads you’ll want to avoid clicking, but other than that, our qualms are few and far in between.
Melt Mail is a great service that’s bogged down by usability and design practices. For a set amount of time, a Melt Mail user can setup email forwarding from a fake, temporary email address to the real recipient of their choice. For instance, I’ve randomly generated the email address “Ie9tTbR4dC9m@meltmail.com” using Melt Mail. By default, everything sent to this address will be forwarded to my permanent email address for three hours.
This is undeniably useful for times when you need to quickly access a confirmation link, but you don’t want the service you signed up for to be knocking at your inbox several days later. After all, the email address you provided them with will cease to exist after a few hours. There’s even a free iOS and Android app for creating and saving fake email addresses to your clipboard on the go.