Burner emails are the best invention since Hotmail. And permanent burner emails—fake addresses you give out when signing up for services that forward to your actual email address—are even better, because they give you a little spigot for turning off a large chunk of spam and other marketing bullshit in your inbox.
Mozilla just started testing an email alias service called Firefox Private Relay, and I encourage you to check it out. Yes, you’ll have to use Firefox in order to install it, as it’s a Firefox extension, but that’s only for setup. Once you’ve got your dummy email up and running, you can go back to using whatever browser you want.
You can’t do much of anything as of when we wrote this article, because Mozilla’s beta test of the service is (annoyingly) invite-only. Once it goes live for everyone, you’ll be able to easily create an email alias that you can set to forward to your real email address. That way, you can use this alias until your inbox feels like it’s getting too saturated with junk mail. Then, just delete the alias, create another one, and start using that instead.
When should you use an alias versus a one-off burner email?
Obviously, an email alias is better for when you’re signing up for services as a one-shot item than, say, inputting a primary email for a service you use regularly (such as Netflix). I wouldn’t recommend using email forwarding for that, as then you’ll have no way to restore access to your account once you delete said email address—if you ever lose your password to the account or need to reset it, for example.
Instead, use email aliases for newsletters you’re tangentially interested in, companies that want you to cough up an email before you buy something, and new forums or message boards you’re signing up for—things like that. A burner account is also fine for these, but only when you don’t want to have any contact with a company after you’ve signed up for a service and gotten whatever it is they’ve sent your way, such as a coupon. (Services like 10 Minute Mail are great for this.)
What can I use while I wait for Firefox Private Relay?
Since you can’t use Firefox Private Relay right now, here are a few useful alternatives for email aliases and burner email accounts:
Maildrop: Customisable burner emails (but not aliases, alas)
Burner Emails: A great extension for Chrome and Firefox that you can use to create actual email aliases
Spamgourmet: Free unlimited email aliases (that you customise via what digits you use in the alias itself. You really have to check this out)
erine.email: Free, unlimited email aliases
AnonAddy: More email aliases (with free and paid plans)
The ol’ Gmail “plus” and “period” trick: Everyone knows about this, right?