Today, virtually every website and app wants you to give them your email address. The flood of spam that often results is a pain in the neck. Besides, the more places that know your email address and can see some of what you do online, the greater a threat to your privacy. And who knows how your email address is getting shared or sold off to third parties.
In the past, it was easy to make up a fake address whenever we were forced to give up our email address to some site we weren’t sure about. But that doesn’t work any more, since most sites now send a verification email that you need to respond to.
Fortunately, there are temporary disposable email services that can help us deal with this problem. These services give you a disposable email address that you can use to deal with those annoying verification messages without exposing your real email address to more spam and questionable third parties.
So let’s examine the landscape of temporary email services by first looking at the best options, and then wrapping things up with some frequently-asked questions.
Here are the best temporary disposable email services:
1. Burner Mail – Fast and capable temporary email
At its most basic, Burner Mail consists of Chrome and Firefox browser extensions that let you generate and use burner (disposable) email addresses. Messages sent to these addresses get forwarded to the email address you specify, while preventing the sender from learning what your real address is.
Once you install an extension, Burner Mail will display its burning envelope icon in most any email address field that appears on the screen. Click the icon to insert one of your burner addresses in the field and you’re done. This makes the browser extensions ideal tools if you need disposable email addresses for all those annoying confirmation messages that sites and services insist on these days.
If you need more than this basic capability, you’ll want to visit the Burner Mail Dashboard (click the Dashboard button in the browser extension to get there fast).
The free version of Burner Mail gives you up to 5 burner addresses, while the paid version gives you an unlimited number of them. As you can see in the image above, the paid version now also gives you the ability to send messages using the burner addresses you create.
Another major recent Burner Mail improvement is its new, lower price. Previously, the paid version cost $2.99 per month if you signed up for a one-year subscription. Now that same one-year subscription works out to only $1.49 per month, a 50% savings.
There’s also a 3-year subscription that knocks the monthly price of Burner Mail down to $0.99/month. More features and lower price makes Burner Mail a good value for heavy-duty users of disposable email addresses.
- Free and paid versions
- Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox
- Forwards messages to your real email address
- Creates and manage multiple burner addresses
- Online mailbox
- Ability to send as well as receive using burner addresses
- New lower prices
- Gathers some usage data
2. 10minutemail – When a quickie is all you need
Sometimes all you want is an email address that lasts long enough to receive a verification message. If you know that your relationship with a certain website is going to be more of a one-night stand than a long-term relationship, the anonymous 10MinuteMail site is where you need to go.
Browse over to the 10minutemail website, and you’ll see something like the image above: an odd-looking email address, and a timer ticking down from 10 minutes.
Click the copy button to the left of the email address (but don’t close this browser window), then paste the address into whatever form needs, “your best email address.” But be quick about it! The clock is ticking.
Now all you have to do is wait. Once that verification email arrives, it will appear in the 10minutemail window below the timer. Click it to open it, then click the button or whatever you need to do.
Then just walk away. Close the browser window. 10minutemail will release the email address and purge any and all messages sent to that address.
Don’t worry if you need more than 10 minutes to seal the deal. If you need more time to get it done, just keep clicking the Get 10 more minutes button until you get what you came here for.
- Free (but donations accepted)
- Super simple to use
- No other user has access to your throwaway email account
- Can’t send email
- Gathers usage data
3. EmailOnDeck – A strong temp mail service that protects your privacy
While 10minutemail has the simplest process possible for getting a disposable email address (just go to their page and your email address is waiting for you), EmailOnDeck is almost as easy. To get an email address from EmailOnDeck takes two steps once you go to their webpage:
- Complete the CAPTCHA.
- Click the Get Email button.
Copy and paste your disposable email address anywhere you need to submit one, but don’t want to give the recipient your real address. Incoming messages appear in your web browser similarly to 10minutemail. While you can receive unlimited messages here, you can only send messages to other EmailOnDeck users, unless you upgrade to EmailOnDeck Pro.
This service offers some real advantages once you get past its “long” address-generation process. You can instantly create a new email address whenever you wish. While the system automatically purges your messages every few hours, you retain control of your throwaway email address for a while.
According to the website, there isn’t a specific amount of time that your address will last, but it should be more than an hour and likely less than a day. You can eliminate the address immediately by clicking the red button to the right of the email address in the image below:
Using the free version of EmailOnDeck, you can only have one disposable email account at a time. If you want more simultaneous accounts, or want to continue to control the address(es) for the long term, you can upgrade to EmailOnDeck Pro. Pro gives you up to 100 email accounts, and lets you send messages to anyone. There is also a recovery option, although it is not guaranteed to work.
If you want to go Pro, you’ll need to be a little crypto savvy. That’s because EmailOnDeck only accepts payment in Bitcoin. At the time of this review, the cost of a month of EmailOnDeck Pro was 0.004229 Bitcoin. Hopefully the EmailOnDeck team will be able to adjust prices due to fluctuating Bitcoin valuations.
- Free and paid versions
- Fast and easy to get your new email address
- Access is secured with HTTPS and TLS
- Mailbox emptied every few hours
- Paid Pro version allows you to create and keep multiple simultaneous addresses
- You can only send email to other EmailOnDeck users
- Bitcoin pricing can lead to excessive costs when cryptocurrencies are rising
4. Guerrilla Mail – Receive and send messages with this disposable email service
Guerrilla Mail provides a quality disposable email service while fixing some limitations that we have discussed with other temporary email providers. These fixes include the ability to
- choose from multiple email domains
- change your Inbox ID to whatever you want
- send and receive emails
Getting started with Guerrilla Mail is a bit more confusing than EmailOnDeck. Guerrilla Mail gives you more options to customize your disposable email address, as well as a scrambled version of your address. Guerrilla Mail doesn’t use any passwords or signup process, so anyone who knows your Inbox ID can use your account. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the server deletes all messages from your inbox after one hour, but you definitely don’t want to use Guerrilla Mail for any personal / private / important messages.
We recommend you hit the WTF! button before you start using Guerrilla Mail, as the site does a great job explaining all this.
One thing we really like about this service is the ability to send email as well as receive it. You can even include attachments to the messages you send. Messages you compose are deleted after 24 hours.
This feature is still in beta, but we found that it works just fine. You should note that anyone who you send a message to sees the scrambled version of your disposable email address rather than the plain one. This looks a little odd, but does prevent the recipient from seeing your Inbox ID.
To enhance your security, Guerrilla Mail forces an HTTPS connection between your device and their site, meaning no one can spy on the messages going back and forth between them.
The email addresses you create in Guerrilla Mail last forever, although the messages in them are automatically deleted after an hour.
- Multiple email domains available; Inbox ID customizable
- Connection is secured with HTTPS
- Mail deleted after an hour, whether read or not
- Email addresses never expire (although the messages do)
- A little confusing for first-time users
- Must use scrambled email for inbox privacy
5. Maildrop – Temporary email with built-in spam filter
Maildrop is another no-nonsense disposable email service. As they say on the site:
Maildrop is a free throwaway email address. It’s temporary. It’s transient. It’s disposable. It’s meant for those times when you don’t want to give out your real address. Just give someone any email address in the maildrop.cc domain, come back here, put in the email address, and you can see that inbox.
Maildrop has no signups.
Maildrop has no passwords.
Maildrop is designed for no security.
Maildrop is designed for little to no privacy.
To use Maildrop, just go to the site, and fill in the template on the top right. All Maildrop emails end in “@maildrop.cc” so all you have to do is fill in the inbox name and you are ready to roll. Say you enter the inbox name: catlitter. You can give people the email address firstname.lastname@example.org to whomever you don’t want them to know your real email address. Come back to Maildrop later and enter catlitter in the same field, then hit the View Inbox button to see what turned up.
Remember that Maildrop gives you little to no privacy. Anyone who enters the word catlitter and hits the View Inbox button will be able to see your messages too. But that’s okay since you won’t be using this email address for anything important or personal, right?
Note on privacy: Of course, we are all using these services for the purpose of keeping our main inboxes private, not necessarily the disposable inboxes. And from that perspective, Maildrop has its place for the privacy-focused user.
As we mentioned at the top, Maildrop has strong limits on what messages it accepts, and how many it accepts, in addition to applying its built in spam filtering system to any incoming messages. The details are complicated, but the most important things to note are that no attachments are accepted, the inbox holds a maximum of 10 messages, and the system may clear out old messages as necessary for the smooth operation of Maildrop.
Maildrop gives you an alias address that you can share with anyone. Messages sent to the alias address will make it into the correct inbox, but no one will be able to figure out your original Maildrop email address from the alias address.
Worried that you won’t be able to come up with a good throwaway address when you need one? Maildrop provides a tool that generates email addresses for you, right on the front page of the site. You can also find some good tips for generating good email addresses at the bottom of this page.
- Easy to use
- Permanent email addresses
- Built-in spam filtering
- No privacy with inbox
- Old messages may persist on the server for more than a day
Now let’s examine some of the most frequently-asked questions about temporary email services.
What is a temporary disposable email service?
A temporary email service provides disposable email addresses and mailboxes for those times when you need to use an email address that cannot be traced back to you.
What is a disposable email address?
A disposable email address is a (usually random) email address that is meant to be used for unimportant correspondence, such as generic activation codes or signup confirmations.
The email address will eventually be discarded, while your primary email address remains hidden. Normally you don’t have to register with the service providing the email address, and it is not associated with your personal information in any way.
Why use a disposable email address?
These days many websites and apps require that you enter and confirm an email address. Why? So they can make money by selling information about you.
Your email address is very valuable to internet marketers who want to send you spam email selling god knows what. It is also valuable to hackers. Your email address is a key piece of data they can use when trying to hack your accounts. Lots of people use the same email address for everything.
Do you really want hackers to get their hands on the email address you use to log into your medical records or bank accounts?
Using a disposable temporary email address with unimportant sites and apps reduces the chance that your real email address will get into the hands of people who want to do you harm, or sell you random stuff you don’t need.
Is it safe to use a disposable email service?
A disposable email is safe in the sense that it keeps undesirables from getting their hands on your email address. It is unsafe in that emails sent to that address will quickly disappear unless you manually save them.
And with some services, your email is not protected in any manner. That is, anyone who knows your disposable email address can get access to your Inbox before it is deleted. Finally, you need to trust the service not to read your mail themselves.
You can use any of our recommended temporary email services safely as long as you assume that your messages are not private and only use the service for unimportant, non-personal activities.
Will disposable email be blocked?
Some websites and apps can tell that you are using a temporary disposable email account, and they may try to block it.
There are services like Block-Disposable-Email.com that maintain databases of disposable and throwaway email domains.
But just because services like this exist, it doesn’t mean most sites and apps are using them. And even if some site detects that the email address you just gave them is disposable, it doesn’t mean that they will detect the next one you generate.
If you get blocked when using one disposable address, just generate another and try again.
Conclusion: Temporary email services
The tendency of virtually every website and app to demand your email address is an abuse of your email privacy. And this trend is not getting any better as more websites restrict access to content unless you register as a member or signup to some email marketing “newsletter” list.
Since not dealing with anyone who requires your email address isn’t a viable solution, disposable email services are a great defensive tool. Each of the five services we describe here has its own way of doing things. But each of them has the power to protect a bit of your privacy by making it easy to give email-demanders a throwaway email address.
While all of these services work well, we’ve seen that there are some out there who can detect and block some of the email domains used by temporary / disposable email services. Since they are all free, why not bookmark all five of them. That way, if your favorite can’t get the job done at a particular site, you can call on one of the others.
Services like Burner Mail, 10minutemail, EmailOnDeck, Guerrilla Mail, and Maildrop make fighting back simple, and free of charge too! Take advantage of the gift of extra privacy they offer.