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How to Make a Temporary Email Address and When to Use It

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Most of us have signed up for a website’s product or service, only to receive a deluge of spam emails afterward. This is annoying, and while there are several ways to declutter your inbox, one of the most effective strategies is creating a temporary email address.

Temporary, or disposable email addresses take no time to make and protect your inbox from all that unwanted spam. How do you create one, and what can you use it for other than avoiding unwanted emails?

What do you use a disposable email address for?

Avoid spam

The number-one reason to make a disposable email address is to avoid receiving emails or newsletters from a company or service you’d rather not give your information to. When you join a mailing list, it’s possible that the owner of that mailing list will sell your email address to third parties, which ends up flooding your inbox with advertising emails you don’t want.

Keep your info private

One good reason to use a throwaway email address is to protect your identity. If you shop online from marketplaces such as Craigslist or eBay, you may not want sellers to have your real email address, which could contain your full name or other personal information. With a disposable email, you can complete online transactions with a degree of anonymity.

Determine who’s tracking you

When you sign up for a mailing list, you have no idea where your email address will go. You can set up a disposable email address to find out who exactly is using your address — even if you never signed up for that organization’s emails.

Create a second account

You may want to create a second account for a web-based app, but don’t want to have to manage two inboxes. With a disposable email address, you can create a separate email for your second account and keep everything centralized with one inbox.

File hosting services

Online file storage platforms such as Google Drive, OneDrive, and Apple iCloud may also sell your email address to a third party, so you can use a disposable email to create an account and store your files, while keeping your personal email private.

Chatting on discussion groups

If you contribute to chat rooms or online discussion forums, it’s possible that other members of the forum can see your email address. The website hosting the chat room may share it with them. Signing up with a throwaway email address is the best way to protect your identity on these sites (other than avoiding them completely).

Testing a web app

After coding a web app, you may want to test it out before letting real users sign up for it. Generating dozens of disposable email addresses to use as dummy accounts is a free and easy way to test your new app.

How to create a temporary email address

There are three main methods you can choose to generate your disposable email address: using a temporary email address service, creating an alias on Gmail, and adding a tag to your regular email address.

1. Use a temporary email address service

Many services let you create a free, temporary email address that you can use for almost anything. These services may give you a randomized email address that self-destructs a short time later, or assign you a public email address that you can funnel your spam to. Others function as a browser extension that quickly and easily create your dummy email right when you need it. Four of the best temporary email address services are:

  • Mailinator
  • Airmail
  • MailDrop
  • BurnerMail

2. Create a temporary alias on your existing email client

If you use Gmail, you can add an alias to your existing email address. To do so, sign in as an administrator on your device, then go to your Google account page and select Account. Then, select Personal Info, then Name. Under Name, click Add an Alias. Choose the name for your alias (a random series of letters and numbers works well), then select Save Changes. Once this alias account is approved, you can use it to sign up for services you’d rather not give your real email address to.

3. Add a tag to your regular email address

If you don’t want to create a separate alias, you can add a tag to a regular email address instead. When inputting your email address for a newsletter, put your regular address then add a tag to the end, such as “throwawayemail.gmail.com.” When you receive emails from that mailing list, or anyone else that organization sold your address to, the emails will appear in your inbox alongside regular emails. But they’ll have the added tag on them.

Not only does this help you track who has your info, it also makes it much easier to block these emails once you no longer want to receive them. To block them, set up a Gmail filter to automatically delete any emails that come through with that specific tag on them.

Temporary email addresses are not secure

While it’s great to have a disposable email address to keep your real address private, remember that temporary email addresses are not secure at all. They don’t usually require passwords to sign in, so anyone can access them. If you’re using a temporary email address, never send emails from it containing your personal information. And make sure the emails you’ll receive to that address won’t contain any personal info either.

Temporary email addresses can come in handy in many situations. 

Just remember that these disposable accounts aren’t secure, and some may expire shortly after you create them. As long as you’re careful about the information you give, using a temporary email address can help cut down on spam and keep your personal information private.

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