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 you could otherwise do without.
Disposable email addresses can help eradicate those irritating messages you’re still receiving from Ancestry and Match.com after several years. Some of these services will also 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 disposable email addresses, so you can remain anonymous and abstain from an inbox bulging with advertisements for male enhancers, online degrees, and whatever else you probably don’t need in your life right now.
The Gmail option
If you’re a Gmail user, there is an option to utilize your existing email address to receive emails from whatever service you’re signing up for, but then have them routed away from your main address later. Although Gmail doesn’t have a throwaway address system, custom email addresses give you much the same functionality.
In order to use it, just add a “+” to the end of your the email address you give to a service, with a specific tag — in this example, we used “unwantedemail.” That way, when you receive an email from that service or company, it will have that additional moniker attached to it.
Once you’re done receiving anything to that specific address, you can set up a Gmail filter to make sure that it automatically deletes any emails coming through to that address. To do so, type your particilar “+” tag in the search box at the top of your inbox and click the arrow on the right-hand side. Then put that tag into the “From” portion of the filter form and click “Create filter with this search.”
On the following page, click the “Delete it” box and click “Create Filter.” You’ll no longer see any emails come through to that specific address.
Non-forwarding disposable email services
If you’d rather not using a forwarding feature, there are also plenty of stand-alone apps and services that let you create a disposable address you can use.
Here are the five best that we’ve used:
Maildrop starts with a familiar premise: Make up an email address or choose an auto-created version. The service then generates a simple list highlighting any and all emails received at the address in question, with a basic refresh option that lets you check emails as they arrive.
Maildrop offers a few other features, too. The service provides you with an “alias address,” or an automatic alternative that will also send emails to this page, but with an additional level of privacy. That said, you have to know the original email address to access emails from the alias address. Maildrop also provides cloud-based spam filtering courtesy of Heluna, so you’ll get less junk when you open your inbox.
When Mailinator boasts it’s “a different kind of email service on its site,” it’s not kidding around: 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 “email@example.com,” 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. Or you can make up an inbox on the fly, and use it as needed when you are worried about spam.
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.
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 are 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. The only downside here is that Guerrilla Mail is looking a little dated these days, and could use an update, although it remains an excellent business-oriented option.
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 to extend it. 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 an ultra-fast method that launches a temporary inbox the moment you open the site, which may be exactly what you’re looking for.
If you just want a little more time, there’s always 20minutemail.
FMG is a lot like 10 Minute Mail in that it’s an ad-free site that automatically generates an email for you to use for various services and logins. This email account, however, comes with a couple features we really like. FMG lets you pick your own address, for example, or supplies you with one if you’re in a rush.
Moreover, the site “waits” for emails to be sent to the disposable address, and then automatically updates to show you those emails. This means you can navigate to the site, use your fake address to log into an account in another window, and then hop back to FMG to see how many spam emails pop up. If you need to pull any registration or informational emails, you can then do so.
Alternative browser extensions
Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have a broad range of service-specific browser extensions for crafting disposable email address caches. Trashmail and Crazymailing feature corresponding browser extensions for Chrome, and both TrashMail and Temp Mail offer like-minded Firefox add-ons.
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