The site asks you to supply an email address, and follow up with confirmation, and perhaps a login and password. It’s hard to avoid the process or any of the steps, but the part that really annoys me is the need to supply my email address to yet another unknown party.
But what if you could instead supply a temporary email address that was forwarded to your own? And then define either a maximum number of emails to forward, or a maximum period of time for which that would happen? This would stop you from receiving spam email to your regular email account. That’s what the website below do. And do it very nicely.
tempalias is simple. I’m fond of simplicity. It’s functional, and effective. And it’s going to solve this problem for you.
A word of caution though. Remember that the whole reason you would go through this is that you don’t want to supply your email address to someone you might not trust. You need to be happy that tempalias is a safe place to hand over that address. I’m relaxed about it, but you should always make your own decisions on security, and not just take my word. tempalias has more so say about the subject.
Remember also that if it turns out that you want to have an ongoing relationship with the website then you will need to return and sign up with your real email address. tempalias has commitment issues, and won’t phone you back the next day, or at least not the next month.
Setting up an alias is easy.
Go to the tempalias site, and supply your real email address.
Then add either:
- A number of days for which you want the alias to be valid
- A number of emails which you want to be successfully forwarded
In this case, I’ve said I don’t want more than three emails to be sent to me. After that, forget it.
Click the Generate Alias button.
Now you just use the temporary email address instead of your own, for the website you need to get access to. In this case “˜firstname.lastname@example.org’, but of course yours will be different.
Try it out. Send some emails to the supplied temporary address, and they will show up at your real email address. After the limit (either days or emails) expires, further emails will be rejected, and the sender, which will generally be a website, will be advised that the email address is not valid.
There are a few other providers with similar products. The details vary, and I should restate my caution from earlier. You need to be able to trust these people.
mint email operates a little differently. There is no forwarding involved. Instead, you create the temporary address at the site, and the emails arrive there as well.
mint email‘s addresses only last for three hours, so you need to complete all of the interaction smartly, or start again.
This stop you from receiving spam email and saves cluttering up your mailbox, but it also means you don’t have any sort of longer-term record of what has happened.
MakeMeTheKing is a similar proposition, but without the three hour timeframe.
There’s another fundamental difference too, and it’s best to understand it up front.
You can be the king if you want, but there’s nothing stopping anyone else from sharing the role. Basically, if you choose an address which already exists, it will still work just fine. You’ll see all the existing emails, all the spam, potentially all the personal details from the last person who used it.
So firstly, choose something obscure, and secondly don’t use this service if the response emails might contain sensitive information. It’s easy though, and you can even add an RSS feed for the specific email address (pretty handy feature fore newsletter subscriptions I suppose).
Do you use any of these? Any others? Thoughts? Questions? Have you ever managed to accidentally make some of your private information public? Without using Facebook? Let me know in the comments below.