Services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix offer limited-time test runs of their services, but if you’re ambitious enough, it doesn’t have to stop there. In fact, you can theoretically continue enjoying the services for free by 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 can lead to emails that you don’t want — and spam today is more dangerous than ever.
While there are many ways to stop email spam, one of the best solutions to multiple issues is to create disposable email addresses. There are a few different ways to make them, but we have our favorite methods.
Use the Gmail customized emails trick
Although Google doesn’t have its own disposable email service, Gmail offers the ability to create customized emails that you can then throw away when you don’t need them anymore. If Google’s own ad features aren’t taking care of the problem, here’s how to use this tool.
Step 1: When asked to input your email on a service you’d rather not give your proper address to, type it in as normal, but end your email address with a specific tag — in this example, we used “+unwantedemail.gmail.com” (the plus sign is helpful for visibility, but not necessary). That way, when you receive an email from that service or company, it will have that additional moniker attached to it.
Emails sent to that address will appear in your inbox alongside all of the others, but with that specific tag on the end of the address, they are very easy to eliminate or block entirely.
Step 2: Once you’re done receiving emails 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 particular 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 section of the filter form and click Create filter with this search.
Set up disposable emails on Maildrop
If you’re not a Gmail user or would just rather create a new disposable email each time you need one, there are also plenty of stand-alone apps and services that do just that. Our favorite is Maildrop. It’s quick and easy to use and although very accessible, has a layer of obfuscation that keeps your emails away from the rest of the site’s users without the need for an account or login information.
Step 1: Head to the MailDrop homepage.
Step 2: Choose a name for your disposable email address and type it into the box labeled view-this-mailbox. It can be anything you want, but make it memorable so it’s easy to come back to. When ready, click the Go button.
You’ll then be taken to your inbox, which will be empty if no one has ever used that address before. However, if you use a common one like firstname.lastname@example.org, then you’ll find it already filled with the 10 most recent emails sent to that address.
Step 3: Use your MailDrop email address whenever you don’t want to give out your real one and any email sent to that address will go straight to your MailDrop inbox.
Note: If you want to make sure that only you can see your MailDrop emails, use the Alias address instead. You’ll find it in the bottom left of your MailDrop inbox, and it will appear as a string of letters and numbers @maildrop.cc. Emails sent to that address will still go to the same inbox, but they can’t be viewed without knowing the original address.
If you don’t like the look and feel of MailDrop, we can also recommend other services. Mailinator lets you create any email address you want and self-deletes after a few hours – but the free service makes those emails publically available during that time. 10 Minute Mail only lasts 10 minutes, but you can manually refresh that timer to restart it, which is useful if you are using a spare email to try out a new service.