There are a lot of different ways that you and I use the Internet and sometimes they should be kept separate. That includes email inboxes. It’s nice to keep your personal emails apart from your work emails. Sometimes, you may even want to separate emails from social networks or dating sites from other personal emails. It all depends on how finely you’re into organizing things.
With any of these ways, you shouldn’t have to go through another long and painful registration process. You shouldn’t have to create an entirely separate account that you need to log in and out from. I know how time-consuming and annoying that is. There are several ways around this. In this article, I’m going to share with you my three favorite ways to instantly get your email where it belongs.
In email addresses, a separator is a character you can append to your username. Let’s use Gmail for example.
If your Gmail email address, for example, is email@example.com, you could sign up for the MakeUseOf Newsletter with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Gmail’s separator is the plus sign. The newsletter would still be delivered to your inbox as normal, though it’d be sent to that unique email address. Anything after your username (from the plus sign forward) is ignored.
How is that useful though? A number of reasons:
- You can use a single Gmail address to sign up for the same website multiple times. 99% of the websites I’ve tried to pull this off at will let it slide. Others will sometime automatically suppress the separator, or not allow non-alphanumeric characters.
- It allows you to organize your email better.
Here, you can see how I’ve utilized this feature. I would also like to note that signing up to those websites under “spam” was just a precautionary measure, and neither of them sent me any unsolicited emails (or if they did, they didn’t hit the inbox).
Separators are different for each email provider. Here are the more popular providers, according to Wikipedia:
Disposable email addresses of this form, using various separators between the base name and the tag are supported by several email services, including Runbox (plus and hyphen), Gmail (plus), Yahoo! Mail Plus (hyphen), Apple’s MobileMe (plus), FastMail.FM (plus and Subdomain Addressing), and MMDF (equals).
Most installations of the qmail and Courier Mail Server products support the use of a hyphen ‘-‘ as a separator within the local-part, such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. This allows qmail through .qmail-default or .qmail-tag-sub-anything-else files to sort, filter, forward, or run an application based on the tagging system established.
Postfix allows configuring an arbitrary separator from the legal character set. The separator info remains available on the email (address is not rewritten to remove it), and thus is useful in internal mail-routing, filtering, and forwarding via any of the mechanisms existing in Postfix.
If you’re unsure about your provider’s separator, you could always hit Google.
Windows Live/Hotmail Aliases
This is a big one that not many people seem to know about. Windows Live and Hotmail will allow you to add up to three additional email addresses to a single account, allowing you to have four email addresses within the same inbox. It’s a nice little feature. Here’s how you do it:
- Log in to your Live/Hotmail account
- At the top right, hover over your name and click Options
- Click on Email addresses
- Click Add en email address
- Click the selection box beside Create a new Windows Live email address to add to your account.
From there, decide what username and what email domain (live.com or hotmail.com) you want to use. You can follow this exact same process up to three times. Then, go back to your inbox. On the left hand side, you’ll see separate folders for each new address that you’ve created.
I think most people know about disposable email addresses by now. Although they’re not a viable long-term solution, they’re great for one-off registrations. We’ve done quite a few articles on this in the past:
- SpamOn: Quick Disposable Email Addresses
- Mmmmail: Disposable Email To RSS Service
- Mailnesia: Use An Anonymous Disposable Email Without Signing Up
- Dudmail: Get A Disposable Email Address & Receive Emails Anonymously
- Trashmail: A Disposable Email Service That Provides You With More Control
- TemporaryInbox: Temporary Email Forwarding
- Mintemail: Disposable Email Address
One of the coolest and easiest solutions is just to use Mailinator. You can access inboxes with a simple GET request: http://mailinator.com
That particular URL will take you to the inbox for account “muoboy“. Change the username in the URL to instantly access any inbox you want.
Obviously, I wouldn’t suggest a disposable address for anything that you deem important, although there are clear uses that each of us could come up with on our own. When you need to come up with a new inbox quickly, these are three of the best directions to go. Let me know of any other methods in the comments!