Proton Mail Now Lets You Hide Your Real Email Address

Proton Mail has added an email alias feature. Credit: Proton


Proton Mail is one of the best alternatives to Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail out there, with end-to-end encryption, tracker blocking, and phishing protection among the features on offer. A free account gets you 1GB of storage and up to 150 messages per day, while paid plans start at $3.99 per month.

The latest feature to be added to Proton Mail is the option to hide your email address: That’s where you set up an email alias to provide when you buy something or sign up for a social media service, while keeping your actual email address private. It’s something already available on other email clients (like Apple’s), and you can get it set up in just a few minutes.

Why hide your email address?

Email alias

You can use email aliases in all kinds of places. Credit: Proton

Here’s how email aliases work, and why you should be using them: You start by generating an alias inside your email app, and then you use the alias (as opposed your actual email address) when you’re filling out a web form, signing up for a new digital service, or telling someone how to get in touch with you. Any messages sent to that alias drop into your regular inbox.

Apps and sites and web forms are always demanding email addresses out of us, and an alias system adds a bit of extra protection and privacy, as well as some additional control over your inbox: You can create an email alias for a specific purpose, like organizing a soccer team for example, and then filter all the messages that come in to that alias.

The oter big advantage of using an email alias is you can ditch it at any time. If you want to stop subscribing to a streaming service, you can retire the email address associated with it too; or if a company is sending you too much spam, you can simply delete the alias you gave them out of existence. If you use separate aliases for everything you sign up to, you’ll also know which companies are sending you too many messages, and which aren’t.

How to set up aliases in Proton Mail

Proton Mail email alias

Each alias can be given a name and description. Credit: Lifehacker

If you’re on a paid Proton Mail plan, you can create as many email aliases as you like, while free account users get up to 10 of them. Log into Proton Mail on the web, then click the shield icon in the sidebar on the right (it’ll say “Security center” when you hover over it). Click Create an alias to do just that.

The dialog that then pops up lets you specify a name for the alias—it’s a good idea to use a name that indicates what the alias is for, to help you keep track of them. This name is then added to a randomly generated string of text and numbers, which is your actual alias. You’re also able to add a note to the alias to help you remember why you created it.

Click Create and copy alias and you’re done: You can paste your newly created, disposable email address into whatever website or app you’re registering with. To get to your aliases and delete any that you no longer need, just click on the shield icon again inside Proton Mail, then follow the All aliases link.

Other email alias options

Apple iCloud+ email alias

Apple also offers email aliases. Credit: Lifehacker

There is an email alias feature in Gmail, but it’s a bit half-baked: You can add dots anywhere in your Gmail address, and the message will still get to you. Alternatively, you can add a plus sign and anything you want after your original address and before the @ (so [email protected] for example). It works fine, but you don’t get full control over your aliases like you do in Proton Mail.

As I mentioned above, Apple offers a hide-my-email service, and it’s pretty comprehensive—especially on Apple devices. You’ll find it’s offered anywhere that you see the “sign in with Apple” option, and you get even more control over your aliases if you’re paying for iCloud storage. From iCloud on the web, click your profile avatar (top right), then iCloud Settings, then iCloud+ Features and Hide My Email.

There are quite a few other options out there. Firefox Relay is one: You can use up to five aliases for free, and more if you’re willing to pay (plans start at $1.99 a month). The ability to hide your phone number as well as your email address is coming soon to Firefox Relay too, though you’ll need to be on a paid plan in order to use it.

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