Disposable Email: 3 Service Providers to Get You Started

In this article we’ll discuss exactly what disposable email is, and why you might need it.  We’ll also look at the following disposable email providers (click one to jump to that section).

Likewise, click on any of the following to go straight to that part.

Need to sign up to a website before it will let you download some software, or other product, for free?  In such circumstances, you can be pretty sure there’s a reason behind this.  All too often, it can result in spamming – being the recipient of unwanted messages.  These may bombard you with all the “amazing offers” the site would like to sell you, or it could be something more nefarious.

The problem is, once you hand out your email address, it’s not always possible to take it back.  If you’re lucky, and the service you’ve signed up to is legitimate, you may be able to unsubscribe.  If not, the best you can hope to do is block the offending emails; yet even this isn’t always effective, as nuisance companies (and other less reputable entities) may employ a whole host of methods to continue to pester you.

Unfortunately, once your email address is out there, you may have to grin and bear it as you suffer the less than desirable consequences.  If this happens to be your main (genuine) email address, you can imagine the frustration this can bring – you probably don’t even have to imagine it, as you’ve most likely experienced at least some of this before.

So, what can we do to stop this?  Allow me to introduce you to disposable email.

What is disposable email?

Pretty much what the name suggests: disposable email is an email address that you can use – often for a one-off activity, such as signing up for a free download – and then dispose of afterwards.  You can think of it as a temporary email address.

Great, how do I get a disposable email address?

I’m glad you should ask.  Fortunately, there are plenty of options when it comes to getting one, as there is no shortage of companies providing the service.  Here we’ll look at just three of them, but any one of these could easily meet your needs.

Important. As none of these services require you to sign in, and potentially anyone could see your emails, do not use them for anything of a sensitive nature.

Guerrilla Mail

https://www.guerrillamail.com

First up is Guerilla Mail.  When you visit the homepage, a randomly generated disposable email address will already be set up an waiting, if you wish to use it, but it’s easy to create your own.  Just click on the existing name and it will become editable.  I’m going with tonestechtips.  After you’ve typed yours, click “Set”.

Guerilla Mail has added the ability for you to select from multiple domain names (the @myemailprovider.com part of the address), so if you don’t like the default “sharklasers.com”, click on the dropdown list to choose another.  This can be especially useful if the website you are trying to register with has blocked a particular disposable email domain, which does sometimes happen.  As you can see in the screenshot, I’ve gone with [email protected].

Tone’s Tip. You may have noticed that your mailbox generates a scrambled address.  If you require a bit more security, use this instead of the actual name.  In my case, I would use [email protected] instead of [email protected]pokemail.net.  This way, people can’t view your mailbox unless they know the original address.  If for any reason you don’t want to do this, untick the “Scramble Address” checkbox.

Congratulations, you have just created your first disposable email address, or you went with the one Guerilla Mail automatically generated for you.  Either way, you now have your first temporary address.  So go and enter it into the website that requires an email and register for your free handout.  I suggest doing this in a new tab so that you can easily come back to your Guerilla Mail inbox in a moment.

Once you’ve signed up to the website, you’ll usually receive an activation link by email (to prove it’s not a fictional email address).  Return to Guerilla Mail and see if an email has arrived.  If it has, click on the link to verify it’s you.  If not, wait for the inbox to automatically update again – it only takes a few seconds and there’s a countdown timer so you can see when this is.  If you want to come back to your inbox later, it’s easiest to bookmark the page, but remember received emails are only kept for one hour.

Spoiler alert!

Unlike the disposable email providers we’ll come to later, Guerilla Mail can also be used to send emails – even including attachments!  The website’s homepage will show your inbox open in the “Email” tab.  If you’d like more assistance finding your way around, click the “WTF?” button.  To send an email, click the “Compose” tab.  Here, you can enter the recipient’s email address (in the “To:” field), add a “Subject” line, and set about writing your message in the main body (box) of the email.

Click “Choose file” (highlighted in the above screenshot) if you wish to add an attachment, which can be up to 150MB in size!  Note. Many email providers may not accept an attachment this large, so don’t get too carried away.  Also note that sent emails are deleted from Guerilla Mail after 24 hours.

Emails can be deleted from Guerilla Mail once you’ve finished with them, although those in your inbox will be deleted after one hour anyway, which is faster than both of the other providers we’ll also be considering – this may or may not be a good thing, depending on how you look at it.  A feature that is nice to see in Guerilla Mail is the “Forget Me” button.  Click this when you’ve finished with your temporary mailbox and the mail server will remove the email address you created straight away.

Guerilla Mail is largely Open Source and there is even an Android app available for your mobile device, if you find yourself using it a lot.  There’s also a paid for version available should you wish to use your own domain.

Next, we have MailDrop.  As the website’s tagline states, “Save your inbox from spam.  Use MailDrop when you don’t want to give out your real address”.  I couldn’t have put it better myself!  To get started with this one, look for the “Make Up Your Own E-mail Address” section, and click in the “view-this-mailbox” box.  Now type in an email address (the domain “@maildrop.cc” is filled in already).  I’ve gone with [email protected].  Finally, click “GO”.  Alternatively, the website will suggest an email address for you, so you don’t even have to think one up if you don’t want to.

You should now be looking at your disposable email’s inbox.  Observe the “Alias Address”; this works just like Guerilla Mail’s “Scramble Address”, allowing you to use an alias rather than the name of the actual email address (providing a bit more security, though obviously no disposable email is completely secure).

To check for new emails, click the “Reload” button.  When you’ve finished with your temporary inbox, you can delete any messages – alternatively, they’re usually deleted automatically after 24 hours (to save space on the company’s servers).  MailDrop is Open Source, which is always a good thing.  Unlike the other two disposable email providers in this article, MailDrop itself has no commercial offering, though it is provided by the cloud-based antispam service company, Heluna.  It may also be worth noting the following.

* MailDrop cannot be used to send emails, only to receive them.
* MailDrop will not accept attachments – they are automatically deleted, so don’t expect to see any.

To finish, we have Mailinator.  From the homepage, type a name for your disposal email address into the “View Any Public Inbox” box and click “GO!”  This will take you straight to the inbox for your temporary email – no prizes for guessing the name I’ve gone with.  As the domain for this provider is mailinator.com domain (the site states that you can upgrade to the paid for service if you wish to get your own private domain), I ended up with the email address tonestechtips@mailinator.com.

Mailinator allows you to pause incoming emails (I’m not quite sure why you’d want to, but the option is there nonetheless).  You can also delete any messages after you’ve finished with them (though, as is the norm with these services, emails are automatically deleted anyway – in this case after a few hours).  Mailinator feels like a more commercial offering (note that it’s only free for personal use).  Like MailDrop, you cannot send email and any attachments are removed from the email(s) you receive.

Mailinator seems to emphasize the “Public” aspect of the service, specifically stating that “You have NO privacy in the public Mailinator system” and that all emails are “public, readable, and discoverable by anyone at any time”.  Perhaps this is to differentiate it from the paid for offering?  Regardless, as stated earlier, you shouldn’t be using any disposable email service where private information is concerned – I’d even go as far to say NO email should be used, disposable or otherwise, to send confidential data unless it’s encrypted.  Nor does Mailinator have an alias/scramble system like those employed by Guerilla Mail and MailDrop; at least not with the free mailboxes.

Quick comparison

Here’s a table for quickly referencing the main features that each provider offers (we’ll only consider the free versions).

FunctionGuerilla MailMailDropMailinator
Receive EmailsYesYesYes
Send EmailsYesNoNo
Email AttachmentsYesNoNo
Email AliasYesYesNo
Multiple DomainsYesNoNo
Mobile AppAndroid OnlyNoNo

Final thoughts

That’s your three disposable email providers: MailDrop, Mailinator, and Guerilla Mail.  Is one better than the others?  Ultimately, only you can decide.  If you need to be able to send email, and not just receive it, then the choice is made for you as only Guerilla Mail currently supports this (for free, at any rate).  Also, if you want a mobile app, it’s Guerilla Mail.  Otherwise, they all do the job they were designed for, and they do it well.  Why not try all three and see which you get on best with?  Whichever you opt for, now there’s no excuse for handing out your “real” email address to access those online freebies – unless there’s a genuine reason for doing so.

Let’s finish with a few frequently asked questions on the subject.

FAQs

What are the main use cases for disposable email?

Lost of websites require registration before you can access various services, and often you’ll need to verify the email account exists.  Signing up to an discussion forum, for example, or a blog, or any other free online service.  Many sites will require you to create an account before you can post comments.  A disposable email is great for this purpose, especially if you don’t want to be contacted again.

How do I create a (free) disposable email?

Hopefully, you can already answer this one, and you also know of three great services to do it with.

Can I re-use the same disposable email address?

Absolutely.  You can either bookmark your inbox web page (with any of the providers we’ve discussed here), or simply re-create the same email address.  None of the emails will be kept long term, whether you continue to use the temporary address or not – that’s not the purpose of these services (if you want that, you may as well use a permanent email provider), but there’s certainly nothing stopping you from signing up to multiple online accounts using the same disposable address – provided the website in question hasn’t blocked the disposable provider’s domain, that is.

What is tempmail?

Disposable email goes by several other names.  At the end of the day, they all mean the same thing.  There’s temporary (temp), throwaway or burner (e)mail, and sometimes even fake email.