How to send an anonymous email

sending email on a phone

Emails provide identifiable two-way communication by design. Aside from the sender address, email has a lot more information that could be used to identify you. If you look at the full email header, you could find routing information. This might be enough to identify you, which might get you in trouble if you’re sending sensitive information. The proper way to do it is to send an anonymous email.

How to send an anonymous email without being tracked?

Sending private email means hiding your real IP address and using a secure email service provider. Most popular email platforms like Google or Yahoo are excellent in their simplicity and storage but are lacking in the privacy department.

If you expect to initiate a private conversation via email, there are quite a bit of things that you could do. Keep in mind, that most times, there’s no one fix solution. You’ll get the best combination of privacy and security if you try to combine several methods. Not only this will help you to stay secure when writing private emails but when you’re looking for weak points in your daily browsing.

1. Use an encrypted and anonymous email service

Encrypted email will function just like a regular service with the bonus that end-to-end encryption makes it much safer. Such encryption covers your emails, inbox, and contact list. No one spying on your traffic will be able to read your emails, including even the service provider (in some cases). Different providers offer different features, but ProtonMail, Tutanota, Secure Email and Guerilla Mail are guaranteed to be more private than Gmail or Yahoo.

The most anonymous email accounts:

  1. ProtonMail
  2. Tutanota
  3. Guerilla Mail
  4. Secure Email

2. Use a “burner” email 

Similarly to how cheap prepaid phones are used in shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad, burner emails are temporarily used and then disposed of. They either expire after a fixed period or will enable you to send a message without registering an account that could be traced back to you. You can use their temporary “send only” account at AnonymouseMail.

Burner emails can help you to fight spam when registering on shady websites. The only drawback is that it can be very tricky to reset your account registered on a burner email in cases when you forget your password. The best course of action would be to use burner emails when you know that it’s little chance that you’ll need to use it in the future.

3. Hide your IP 

Whichever method you choose to send an anonymous email, your IP may still be a liability. To hide it, you should use a no-logs VPN or Tor browser. A VPN will encrypt your connection and route it through an intermediary server, hiding your actual IP address. Tor will pass your connection through several network nodes, making you untraceable. There are even some VPNs that use these technologies in conjunction, like NordVPN’s Onion over VPN.

4. Remove the metadata from the files 

If you’re sending a Word document, the metadata in the files could be your giveaway. It can contain your full name and other personal information that you don’t want to share. If it’s just documents that you want to send without being traced, you should take a screenshot and strip any EXIF data from it.

data inspector showing how you can remove data from files

On Windows, there’s also a built-in tool for metadata removal called Document Inspector. This will help you to analyze what you’re including, giving you the ability to strip all the information from a file that you don’t want to be shared. 

5. Create a new email account 

They easiest way to send emails anonymously is to create a new email account. If you must use services Gmail or Yahoo, you could create an email using false information. Choose a fake name, home address, date of birth, and don’t provide a phone number. Keep in mind, however, that even with these precautions, these services will still track your cyber movements. They are also required to provide this information to law enforcement agencies.

The most anonymous email providers 

If you want to send email anonymously, it always boils down to choosing a secure email provider. They can still keep a log with your name, IP, or location, so you need to pick one that will respect your anonymity and will not collect your data. 

1. ProtonMail 

ProtonMail

ProtonMail uses PGP encryption for your emails before they leave your device. It guarantees a no-logs policy, so even if law enforcement came knocking on the provider’s door, they wouldn’t have anything to show them. 

Keep in mind that once the email is sent, it won’t encrypt metadata, headers, or subject lines. There is a free and paid plan (from 4.00$ a month) that increases the maximum amount of messages that you can send per day. The only downside is that they will likely ask you to provide a telephone number to confirm your account. 

ProtonMail also offers the feature of self-destructing messages. All you need to do is set your preferred expiration time, and, when the time comes, ProtonMail will delete the messages from the recipient’s inbox.

Aside from that, this email service gives you a free VPN, applications for iOS and Android, and an encrypted calendar.

2. Tutanota

Tutanota

Tutanota can provide you with end-to-end encryption. If you need, you will be able to send encrypted messages even to non-Tutanota users. The encryption includes not only the inbox, but your contacts as well. You won’t need to provide any identifiable information when registering an account. Plus, it will strip your IP address from your emails. Their code is open source so everyone can examine it. 

This secure email service is one of the best options for those who don’t want to spend a fortune – or to spend money at all. That’s because it offers a free version that includes 1 GB of storage. However, this plan supports only one user and has other limits – for example, it stores your emails only for four weeks. For additional features, like setting up encrypted calendars and unlimited email history, you can pay as little as 1.20 EUR a month.

3. Guerilla Mail 

Guerilla Mail

Guerilla Mail has been a popular anonymous email provider since 2006. It differs from the other secure email providers on this list, as it provides a temporal email address to send and receive email anonymously. You can either create the email address yourself or let Guerilla Mail do it for you if you’re in a hurry. You don’t even need to have an account to send messages, which makes things even more comfortable.

You can use Guerilla Mail when you want to register to a site but are not comfortable with using your real email address. In other words, you can use this email provider as a dumpster for unwanted spam emails, or when you don’t trust the sender.

The best thing about Guerilla Mail is the fact that it’s absolutely free – you just go to their site and use the service. So far, Guerilla has processed more than 13 billion emails – and the number is constantly growing. 

4. Secure Email 

Secure Email

As you can guess from the title, Secure Email is a secure email service that encrypts your emails to guarantee that your communications stay private.

It uses 4096-bit key encryption together with SSL to ensure that all of your data stays anonymous. In addition, Secure Email implements user-managed encryption keys instead of public keys. That’s why Secure Email is perfect for those who send sensitive info over email – or just want their conversations to remain private. It’s even possible to send an anonymous SMS.

You also won’t have to share any personally identifiable information to register an account. They’re transparent about their privacy policy and don’t log your IP address. Finally, the service is absolutely free – you just need to sign up.

Importance of email security and anonymity 

Using a standard email provider, in most cases you’ll get a decent service, but your privacy might be at risk. These services generate income from ads, and they need to know your browsing habits to tailor these ads for you. Plus, email metadata will expose your private IP address to anyone willing to look at the X-Originating-IP or Original-IP lines. This will enable hackers (or the receiver) to find your city, state, ZIP code, internet service provider, and more.

FAQ

Does Gmail reveal your IP address?

If you use Gmail as a webmail service, your external IP address and hostname will not be leaked. However, if you’ e using Thunderbird, or Outlook client to send Gmail emails using SMTP, then your IP address and hostname will be sent through along with your email. Keep in mind that during police investigation, Gmail would be forced to reveal your IP address and location.

How do you hide your email address when sending an email?

It’s impossible to hide “From” addresses when sending emails. However, you can use a fake address to trick someone into thinking that it was someone else. You’ll still have to use a real domain name because non-existing domain names will get caught up in spam filters.

Can you send an anonymous email in Outlook?

By design, Outlook always uses an email account associated with the sender. This means that it’s impossible to indicate other “From” that your used email account. If they don’t match, Outlook will return an error, and it will be impossible to send an email.

Is Gmail anonymous?

Gmail isn’t anonymous because Google tends to collect your data and serve you ads. However, it’s possible to keep some degree of privacy with the Gmail account by using a fake name, location, birth date when registering, and always using a VPN with it.

Can I hide my IP address when sending an email?

You can use a VPN or TOR to hide your originating IP address when sending an email to have it display the proxy server’s IP instead of your actual home IP address. This won’t reveal your IP to the public when sending emails.

What is a burner email account?

A burner email account is a separate email account without important contacts that its user can quickly dispose of after several uses. It has the benefit of not being tied to real user’s names or its other accounts.

Is Outlook more secure than Gmail?

Microsoft’s security settings are an enigma. Meanwhile, Google’s privacy policy is much more transparent. Besides, Google offers login through hardware 2FA, which is a very secure method of authentication. Plus, there are excellent bonuses with Gmail, like placing spam in a separate Junk folder rather than adding a red or yellow icon at the top of suspicious emails. This means that Gmail is preferable to Outlook when it comes to security.

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Comments 14
  1. Patrick says:

    Hey all! So I’m using Gmail as my email provider and I’d like to know how to send an anonymous email on google without signing in. I mean there has to be a way, right? If it isn’t then whatever, I can make some different mailbox for my anonymous needs, but I prefer to leave a small digital footprint which means I want to use as little services as possible.

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Hi, Patrick, thank’s for your comment!
      By definition, if you’re using Google products you’re giving away all sorts of information. Even if you’re registering with a fake name and address, Google still collects your usage data, browsing history, etc. If you want to send emails anonymously, sadly, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  2. niranjan kumar says:

    Please consider to add CTemplar – Anonymous Email service. At this time CTemplar claim to most secure encrypted email service by Iceland data protection law and better security features compare to mention emails service in your post.

  3. Lambert Simmons says:

    Ok, before you get any ideas – I’m not doing anything illegal, just want to protect my private information. You know sometimes you have to buy things and not leave any breadcrumbs lying around. Because it’s gifts for a family member haha. Anyway how to send an anonymous email message without being traced? I know their inbox, I don’t want them to know anything about me. Just a one time deal, you know? Thanks for the help!

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Hi Lambert, don’t provide any personally identifiable information and pick one of the secure email providers. No one will be able to tell who is the person behind the email.

  4. HondaWire says:

    I really love browsing craigslist for various advertisements, sometimes they’re really entertaining to read. Sometimes I’ll even write to the people there with my personal email to make an inquiry. But I realized that I’d rather not have my personal info attached to everything. So could you tell me how to send an anonymous email through craigslist?

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      That’s an excellent question!
      When you’re using Craigslist, only their servers save your email. When someone clicks to email you, your mail gets forwarded through their servers as an intermediary. So you send mail to Craiglist, then the server sends an email from Craigslist to the user.
      This isn’t direct communication, and neither of you will know each other’s real email addresses.
      It still wouldn’t hurt to pick an anonymous email service in cases of Craiglist data breach, for example.

  5. David says:

    I read somewhere that you shouldn’t use personal accounts when using an employers internet connection because they might be able to see everything. Is that true? Even for email? How to send an anonymous email to your coworkers? I mean if I want to organize a birthday party I don’t want the surprise to be ruined.

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Hi, David. It’s a very common concern.
      If you’re using your work email, you can assume that your employee can see every message. You can verify this by inquiring your HR what kind of data your employee collects. In other cases, this could be indicated in your work contract.

  6. William Vance says:

    Do any of you guys know how to send anonymous email from iPhone? I don’t want all the personal information that comes with my Apple ID to be attached to some emails. And if there was a way ro remove location information as well that would just awesome. Although I have been using a VPN for that, I’m just not sure if it’s enough. Would appreciate a professional opinion. Thank you.

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Hello William, most secure email services have their client apps for iOS. You could send an anonymous email without any Apple ID attached to any of your emails using them.

  7. Randy Matthewson says:

    I know it’s a bit early, but I need to ask this in advance in case I don’t get a fast reply. So the winter holidays are coming up and I need tips for some digital secret santa tricks. Do you know how to send anonymous gift card by email on amazon? I already know what the person would like, but I need to keep it a secret. I’ll be eagerly awaiting your reply!

    • Justinas Mazūra says:

      Hi Randy, this is a tricky one.
      For every purchase, Amazon requires a billing address. It will be shown on your invoice, which is visible to the recipient when you send an Amazon gift. The most secure option is to copy the gift card code and send it via email. The recipient would have no idea where the code came from.

  8. WDEH says:

    Nice article… but, you have to mention the use of VPN and/or PROXY (chains) while sending it, cause, otherwise, it will be useless everything your mentioned as at the end, you can be tracked.

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