Options for registering for sites without using your personal email

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

One of the things I talk about a good deal on this site as well as in presentations I give about using online tools in the classroom is the idea of using registration free websites. This is great if there is a decent option available, but this isn’t always that case. This can be a real problem for teachers who are asking their students to use their personal email or social media accounts to sign up for online tools. In Canada, this may also become a legal problem in certain situations with the various national and provincial privacy laws in place. Because of this, I have had to use various workarounds to obtain access to certain sites, including fake and temporary email addresses.

Here are few options you can use if you find yourself in need of registering for websites that need an email address:
  • Enter your own fake email address: This works well for certain sites that only use your email if you forget your password. If you don’t need to get an email from the site to use their services (i.e verification), this works best. I have one standard email address I use in these situations. That way if I need to sign in with the email address again, I won’t forget it.
  • Use the Gmail+ trick: This works for many sites if you already have a gmail account. I have a class Gmail account I use for my students and I just add + and then a number or a word afterward to create a new address for each student. Example: if my gmail address was fake@gmail.com, I could create unlimited email addresses that send the mail to that account by adding + after the word fake and then a number of word (e.g. fake+1@gmail.com). Note: all + email addresses still go to the original email address, so if you need to reply to that address for verification, the owner of that account will need to finish the process. In this case, I am the owner of my class account, so I need to verify each of the student’s registrations. Not perfect, but certainly workable.
  • Use a temporary email address site: This also works fairly well, but some of these sites only forward to your email address which means you are giving them your email address which is what we are trying to avoid. Here are some sites that do not require you to give your email address:
    • Fakeinbox: Click on the ‘Create random email address’ and you will get a temporary (an hour, but can be lengthened by 1 hour increments) email address and inbox. Note: there is an ad that appears in on the page, although I haven’t seen any nasty ones so far.
    • Temp-Mail: This is my favourite since I haven’t seen any ads and it is very clean and easy to use. There are even options to create your own email address and have longer periods of time. If I choose a temporary email address option, it is this one.
  • Use your own email domain: If you really want to make things secure, you can purchase your own domain address and set up an email account. With most hosts, you can create many email accounts under that domain. For my email domain host, I can create up to 100 different accounts. I can delete those at any time which creates room for more. I could create accounts for each student and then delete them once the course is over.
  • Have a class email: You could create a set of email addresses, enough for everyone in the class. This would mean the teacher would have to register a class set of email addresses, but then those could be recycled over a period of time. Not a great solution, but it works.
  • Have one login for a site: Some websites allow multiple people log in with the same username and password. Some sites don’t care if 10, 20, or even more are logged in at the same time with the same login information. You have to test those out before to see what sites are okay with that and what ones kick you out.
I hope that helps. If you have any other suggestions, let me know. Thanks!

Using AirMail as a Temporary Email Service for Registration



One of the most difficult things to deal with when using online tools is the need to register for sites. Most of the sites that I use don’t require registration or require you to supply an email. Occasionally, there are some situations that need an email address if only for the registration process. In these situations, I just using a temporary email service such as AirMail to finish the registration process. This allows you to sign up and then get the email to finish the registration process.

AirMail is one of several temporary email services that doesn’t require any registration to get an email address. Here is how it works:
  1. Go to getairmail.com and click on the temporary email button in the middle of the screen.
  2. You will be taken to you new “Inbox” that refreshes every 10 seconds. Copy your new address by clicking on the clipboard button next to the new address that is located directly below the image of the mailman on the left-hand side of the screen. [NOTE: DO NOT close this browser window! You will need to go there once you have finished the registration process. This site will continue to receive emails, leaving messages in your account, as long as you leave that window open. Closing the window will start the countdown on emptying the account of all messages. Messages are deleted 24 hours after closing the window. You can still access the account after this time and continue using the email address simply by bookmarking the page and returning at a later time.]
  3. Go to the page that requires your email address for registration and paste that email address into the email spot on the form.
  4. Once you have finished registering, go to the AirMail window and check your mail. It will continue refreshing the email list every 10 seconds.
  5. Click on any messages that require you to finish the registration process. If you want to keep the message, you will have to copy and paste the message into something else. You can not email out from AirMail.
Some interesting features of AirMail:
  1. As mentioned earlier, the messages will remain in the account as long as you keep that window open. You can open other windows/tabs and AirMail will notify you with a sound when you receive a message.
  2. Only you can use this email address if you are using the same browser and computer as when you registered.
  3. You can also read HTML emails instead of just text based messages.
Keeping students’ email addresses private is a real concern in the classroom. I hate to ask my students to give out their personal information, even if it wouldn’t bother me to do it. I don’t want to use my ‘position of power’ to unintentionally pressure them to do something they don’t feel comfortable doing. This gives everyone a viable option that is simple and effective.

Feel free to share what you do regarding students’ personal data. I don’t want to come across as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ that is hyper-sensitive about online data, but I also don’t want to put students in difficult situations. You can leave your comments below, tweet me at @nathanghall, or use the Contact page on this website to email me.