Love it or hate it, email has become a part of our lives.
It helps us stay connected with friends, family and work, but marketers love it too.
“Your real email address is basically gold for targeted advertising,” said Jared Newman, a tech writer and author of the tech tips newsletter Advisorator.
Recently, he shared some tools to help keep your email address secret, cut down on spam and protect your privacy.
“It’s just a core part of your identity now, your email address. Being able to shield that somehow is really useful,” said Newman.
He says Duck Duck Go’s new Email Protection lets you create a free email address that forwards to your inbox. You can also create one time disposable addresses, but this requires you to install the Duck Duck Go extension on your web browser and may switch your search engine to theirs.
Duck Duck Go will strip out any trackers contained in the emails you receive through their service.
“I like the idea that I’m opening an email and they don’t know if I’m opening it or not,” said Newman.
Apple offers a similar tool called Hide My Email. To use it, you have to be a paying iCloud subscriber
Find it on the iPhone by going into Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Hide My Email. Here, you can generate random email addresses that will forward to your inbox.
You can also block email trackers for free on the iPhone, as long as you use the stock Mail app.
Just go into Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection and toggle on Protect Mail Activity.
“What they do is essentially load everybody’s emails and make it look like you’ve opened them whether you did or not,” said Newman.
Newman’s top pick to hide your email address is a tool called Abine Blur.
“I like it because it works everywhere and there’s a browser extension that autofill masked email addresses, there’s a mobile app,” said Newman.
Another alternative is AnonAddy, which lets you create free unlimited addresses you can even reply from without revealing your real email.
Bottom line: “It does take a little bit of effort sometimes to get the outcome you want, but if you value your privacy with email I think [these tools are] worth looking into,” concluded Newman.
One more tip: If you use Gmail, you can create unlimited unique email addresses using your current account. Just add a plus sign and a word to your username.
For instance, if your Gmail is firstname.lastname@example.org you can enter email@example.com into a sign-up form and these emails will still arrive to your inbox.
When you’re sick of them or just want to block them, just create a filter for that email address to send it directly to the trash.