Quite often, you will come across freebies on the Internet such as free music or free eBooks, but as the saying goes, "you don't get something for nothing." In return for that free MP3 or eBook, the site owner will want your email address, which they will then use to flood your email inbox with never-ending spam about Viagra . TrashMail is a Firefox add-on and Chrome extension which aims to instantly stop all this nonsense with a simple right-click of the mouse.
It's true that you could go directly to websites like TrashMail and just use the site. But what makes this add-on stand out is how fast and effortless it makes the whole process. After installation, you will either need to sign up for a free TrashMail account (if you dont already have one) or sign in (if you do have one). This enables the browser to keep track of all of your TrashMail activity. When you want to sign up for something, but not use your real email, simply right-click othe email sign-up box on the webpage, choose "paste disposable address" from the right-click menu that pops up, and a box will appear, enabling you to choose what throwaway address you want to use.
Multiple domains are available, which is great if the site you're on has blocked the TrashMail domain you first try to use. As well as .net domains, you can also choose one of two Austrian domains (.at), two German domains (.de), as well as an .eu (European Union), .me and .org domain. So if one doesn't work, pick another that tickles your fancy until you find one that the site will accept.
The address you want to use as your throwaway address can even be customized to suit your needs. So if you suddenly feel suspicious of PCWorld, you can sign up for one of our newsletters using a TrashMail address such as pcworld_trash@TrashMail.net (assuming nobody else is currently using that alias). This makes it easier to manage your Address Manager, which sits in the bottom right of your Firefox browser and in the top right of your Chrome browser. You can see at a glance which email addresses are currently active and when they expire. You can edit or delete addresses at any time.
All emails sent to your throwaway address will automatically be redirected to your real address, and at no time will anyone see the final email destination. So this is ideal for anyone who values their online privacy and doesn't want anyone to see their real email inbox. If unwanted email gets out of hand, just cancel the TrashMail address and start another one.
The only downside to the TrashMail service (and its such a minor thing that I debated even mentioning it) is that some features, such as unlimited forwarding and longer expiry dates, are available only if you upgrade to the Plus version for $13 a year. It's not expensive if you value the service and value your privacy, but some people who don't believe in paying for anything on the Internet might be a little ticked off at having to hand over money.
On the whole, TrashMail is a browser extension you must install and use on a regular basis if you are serious about combating the spam in your email inbox. With most of the features free to use, there simply is no reason to ignore this one.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software for your Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser.
This story, "Free TrashMail browser add-on protects your email and information" was originally published by PCWorld.