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.

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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