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Many email services, including gmail, allow you to create throwaway email addresses by appending a tag of the form +anything after the username component of your email - but many sites reject such addresses as invalid. Are there any services which offer a similar service, but using a schema that's less likely to be rejected? I know about the gmail period-insertion trick, but it's hard to remember what I created the address for with that one.

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I think support for + is part of the Internet Message Format RFC: tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5322 –  Scott A. Lawrence Jun 30 '10 at 21:06
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That doesn't stop people from rejecting it, even if it's permitted by the RFC –  bdonlan Jun 30 '10 at 21:08
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the point of plus-addressing is not so much the throw-away aspect (see the services to create throw-away addresses below) but more the "i can filter these mails easier" side. –  akira Jul 1 '10 at 4:26

8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Update 2012-09-28: tempalias is no longer running; the source code is available though.

If you simply need a disposable address, tempalias provides a very nice service that will give you a disposable address that expires after either a certain number of messages or a certain amount of time has passed.

If you care about this kind of thing, tempalias is open-source, so you can grab the source and be somewhat more confident that they themselves aren't going to do anything nefarious with your email address.

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Running it on my own server sounds good to me - that way I won't have to worry about it going down years later. –  bdonlan Jun 30 '10 at 21:05
    
@bdonlan: isn't the whole point of a throwaway email address that you don't care about the contents of the email address and so if it does go away you can simply find a new solution and nothing is lost? –  Senseful Jun 30 '10 at 23:27
    
The goal for me is more to track the source of the spam, and disable addresses when needed. tempalias is a good starting point for my needs, and since I have the source, I can hack it into what I need. –  bdonlan Jun 30 '10 at 23:34
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tempalias is down as of November 2011. Too bad. It looked useful. –  dgw Jun 14 '12 at 23:33

Mailinator is a great service. It accepts all email; spam or not. But it has some limits.

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What kind of limits? –  bdonlan Jun 30 '10 at 20:57
    
You can't send email. –  Andrew Jun 30 '10 at 21:12

Not sure about other services, but another little-known trick that works in Gmail is this:

Periods (.) are ignored. That means if your address is joesmith@gmail.com, email sent to all the following would still arrive:

joesmith@gmail.com joe.smith@gmail.com j.oesmith@gmail.com joesmit.h@gmail.com

Personally, I always insert a period after the first letter when I want to filter out the messages as probable spam. Gmail filters will let you pick those out of the stream by just saying TO: j.oesmith@gmail.com

Cheers -- Matt

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If you have a Yahoo Premium Account, it let's you use the '-' character. Additionally, there is no way to find out your real email address. For example, I can easily know that your email address is john@gmail.com if you give me the email address john+foo@gmail.com. I think it's only a matter of time until the spammers start removing the plus sign.

If you use AT&T wireless, you can get a Yahoo Premium account for free. If you need more information, I posted the instructions on my blog.

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Here's a great workaround using a (previously free) Google Apps For Your Domain account and "minus" addressing:

http://matthew.mceachen.us/blog/automatic-disposable-email-addresses-for-google-apps-611.html

Basically you turn on the catch all, and then have that account forward any email wherever you want.

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Great stuff - works really well :) –  x3ja Jul 5 '10 at 23:14
    
Dope; thank you! –  GollyJer Jan 7 at 16:18

I've always used Sneakemail and have been extremely happy with it.

It's allows me to quickly create temporary email addresses which are automatically forwarded to my real (private) email address.

  1. When sending email to a new site, use Sneakemail.com's web interface to create a new "Sneakemail address".
  2. Label it so you know who you gave it to - "SomeCompany", for example
  3. A new Sneakemail address is generated, something like jfal52095@sneakemail.com. Give this to them instead.
  4. When someone sends mail to jfal52095@sneakemail.com sneakemail forwards it to my@address.com.
  5. If you reply, it will be delivered back through our servers and your email address will remain hidden.
  6. If you start getting spam from one of the labeled address, you know where it came from! Just delete the temporary address and your real email address is always safe.

It's a pretty seamless way to use email like I always do except no one ever sees my "real" email address. Never.

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I know this is an old question, but I thought I'd add fresh insight and also see if I could get any more answers to this, since I still don't have one I'm satisfied with. There seems to be no other way of getting in touch with OP other than an answer.

There are three services I'm aware of that do this: GishPuppy (which is what I currently use), Sneakemail (mentioned above) and another service whose name I can't remember. None of these seem reliable enough to trust with such an important function.

However, lately, GishPuppy's website has been going down, enough to make me feel quite unsettled. While it has still been forwarding email to my private address, I'm worried about what would happen if their service suddenly went down. It would be unfeasible for me to go change my email address for thousands of accounts, many of which I probably won't even remember. So tread with caution. I'm still on the lookout for better alternatives and will keep this answer updated if I find any, I hope you'll do the same.

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Plus addressing is also known as address tags. How the local part (i.e. the user name of username@domain) is used and if there are any special meanings is dependent on the mail server used.

qmail and Courier Mail Server support "-" as an address tag and Postfix allows you to configure an arbitrary separator. I started using "-" when I run my own qmail server (long time ago) and never had any issues with the "-" tag when providing my email address to websites and elsewhere. I find the ability to tag the addresses by usage quite valuable.

I've switched to hosted email and continued using the "-". Doing so I found out that not many reliable mail hosting provider support the "-" tag and switching the tag to something else (i.e. "+") is near impossible if you have been using it extensively in the past.

My current hosting provider, tuffmail, is great in all aspects but SSL security. Now because of my address tag usage I'm having difficulties to find a better service provider. Just something to keep in mind that address tagging will bind you to a specific set of mailservers/providers.

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