Email masking is one of the most effective ways to take control of your inbox and avoid spam messages. By using a masked email address, you can keep your real inbox private and protected across the internet. But how does email masking work exactly? And what are the best services to use?
This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about keeping your email secure and spam-free with email masking tools. We‘ll cover how they work, compare top options, provide set-up instructions, and give tips on improving email privacy.
Why Email Masking is Essential for Inbox Privacy
Over 200 billion spam emails are sent globally each day, according to cybersecurity firm Norton. On top of that, your email address may be shared, sold, or leaked to unknown third-parties without your consent when you browse the web or sign up for services.
Once your email is out there, it becomes vulnerable to phishing scams, spam messages, tracking pixels for data collection, and security threats like credential stuffing attacks where hackers try logins from leaked password lists. Even safe sites you willingly share your email with may get hacked in a data breach later on.
By using a masked forwarding address, you limit this exposure so your real inbox stays protected. Think of email masking like having a privacy firewall for your email account.
How Does Email Masking Work?
Email masking services generate virtual, disposable email addresses that forward messages to your real inbox. Some key points:
- You sign up for a masked email from a privacy service provider.
- Unique forwarding addresses are created to use across the web instead of your real email.
- Messages sent to your masked emails are rerouted to your actual inbox.
- You can turn masked emails on or off anytime.
- Deactivating a forwarding address stops emails to it, but keeps the address intact.
- Reactivate an address when desired to resume forwarded emails.
- Addresses can be deleted permanently if no longer needed.
This puts you in control. As Marie Javins, Editor at PCMag, writes: "Handing out your real email address to any site that requests it is like giving your house key to anyone who asks. Use a disposable email for online forms and services to keep the riffraff out of your inbox."
Top 5 Email Masking Services Compared
Here are five of the top vendors for email masking and their key features:
|Service||Free Option||# of Aliases||Cost||Device Support|
|Apple Hide My Email||No||Unlimited||$0.99+/month with iCloud+||Apple devices only|
|DuckDuckGo||Yes||Unlimited||Free||Browser extensions & mobile apps|
|AnonAddy||Yes||Limited aliases||$36/year Pro||Email clients and mobile apps|
|Firefox Relay||Yes||5 aliases||$4.99+/month premium plans||Browser extensions & mobile apps|
|SimpleLogin||Limited||Unlimited||$30/year premium||Web app only|
As you can see, Apple Hide My Email is the most convenient if you use iCloud and Mac/iOS devices. DuckDuckGo is highly trusted and fully free. For more advanced power users, open source tools like AnonAddy provide high aliases and custom domains. And Firefox Relay bundles additional features like VPN service.
How to Set Up and Use Email Masking Tools
It only takes a few minutes to start masking your email across the web. Here are the basic steps for getting set up with leading services:
Apple Hide My Email
Prerequisite: Have an iCloud+ subscription for $0.99/month+
- Enable Hide My Email in your iCloud account settings on your Apple devices
- Use Sign in with Apple and select "Hide My Email" when available
- Or choose auto-populated "Hide My Email" option in email fields
- Generate more aliases manually in Settings if needed
DuckDuckGo Email Protection
- Download DuckDuckGo mobile app or install browser extension
- Sign up for a private duck.com email address
- Check email to verify your masked address
- Go to settings and generate unlimited email aliases
- Use aliases when signing up for sites or entering email fields
- Go to AnonAddy.com and create a free account
- Set up your username and password
- Choose a masked email alias during first use or go to dashboard
- Customize forwarding settings as desired
- Use masked address when signing up for sites, social media, newsletters etc.
- Visit Firefox Relay website and select your plan
- Sign in with Firefox account or register for a new account
- Follow the setup guide for your plan
- Install browser extension if using free or standard plan
- Generate masked email addresses and use them across the web
That covers the basics of getting started with leading email masking tools. Most are designed for quick and easy setup right from your desktop or mobile device.
10 Tips for Total Email Security and Privacy
In addition to masking your address, here are some best practices for locking down email security:
- Use Unique Passwords – Each email account should have a long, complex unique password, along with 2-factor authentication enabled.
- Be Wary of Links – Avoid clicking links in emails unless you‘re certain of the sender. Hover to preview the URL before following.
- Don‘t Reply to Spam – Replying confirms your address. Report spam as junk.
- Beware Public Computers – When checking email on a public device, remember to fully log out afterwards.
- Review Senders Carefully – Double check the full email address of senders and look for typos or mismatches.
- Disable Auto-loading Images – Prevent tracking pixels in messages. Turn this off in account settings.
- Check Email History – Use a monitoring tool like EmailOptOut to see where your address is exposed.
- Mask Your Phone Number – Services like Firefox Relay allow you to generate masked, disposable phone numbers as well.
- Use VPN Service – A virtual private network adds encryption and hides your IP address.
- Monitor Your Credit – Keep an eye out for any suspicious financial activity linked to potential identity theft.
By combining email masking with other secure email habits, you can drastically limit your exposure to spam, phishing, scams, and other cybersecurity threats.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, your email address is the key that provides access to many of your online accounts and sensitive personal information. By masking your real address with a forwarding alias, you control where emails actually reach your inbox.
Email masking services make it quick and easy to hide your true address across the web. Whether your goal is reducing spam or avoiding data harvesting for targeted ads, these tools empower you to take back control of your inbox privacy.
Handing out your personal email freely online comes with serious risks in the era of data breaches. But a masked alias lets you discretely manage where emails go while keeping your identity secure.
Give email masking a try, along with other email security best practices covered here, to lock down your inbox and surf the web with confidence again.