Illustration: Pixabay

Chrome and Firefox: There are plenty of reasons you might not want to give out your real email address when signing up for a site or service. Maybe youā€™re really big on privacy; or, more likely, you just hate spam, and figure the fewer places that know your real email address, the better.

You can use a number of sites to create disposable email addresses, and you can even try the olā€™ ā€œadd a plus or a periodā€ trick in services like Gmail to create a ā€œfakeā€ address that always forwards to your real one. The problem with the first approach is that these kinds of email addresses donā€™t last foreverā€”not very useful if you want a brandā€™s newsletter, for example, but donā€™t want to cough up your real email address when signing up.

The second approach is helpful, but only so much. Youā€™ll still get spam in your inbox if a third party sells your modified email address, and youā€™ll still have to create filters to manage an onslaught of email through something like ā€œ[email protected]ā€ instead of ā€œ[email protected]ā€

This is why I was delighted to stumble across the Chrome and Firefox extension Burner Emails, which makes it incredibly easy to create (and manage!) dummy email accounts that forward to your real address. I almost donā€™t need to explain how the extension works, given how simple it is to use, but here goes: Install the extension and make an account with your real email address. Thatā€™s most of the work.

Now, if you go to a site that asks you for your email address to create an account, you should see a little black icon with a flame in the text input bar. Click on it, and the email address field will automatically populate with a brand-new, unique address. Use that when registering for the site, and any email the site sends to it will automatically forward to your real email address.


To manage your tiny army of email addressesā€”since the extension can create a new email addresses for each service, if you wantā€”just click on its icon in your browserā€™s main window. You can temporarily turn an email address off or delete it entirely if youā€™re getting too many messages and donā€™t trust the sender to take you off their list(s). Your choice.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Though you canā€™t rename your various email addresses to make them easier to find, any address Burner Emails makes on your behalf should have the siteā€™s name somewhere in it. And if you want more customized email addresses, you can always hit up Burner Emails web-based tool and create your own. Itā€™s just a bit slower to do that than to use the super-handy browser extension.

Screenshot: David Murphy