Want to blow the whistle on something going on in your company? Got secrets to reveal but don’t want to get too involved? Whatever your reasons, it is possible to send an email without anyone tracing it back to you. We highlight five simple ways to send anonymous emails below.
- Use an anonymous and encrypted email provider
- Create a new email account as a “burner” email
- Hide your IP address when sending emails
- Remove the metadata from attached files or images
- Encrypt your messages
5 simple ways to send anonymous emails
1. Use an anonymous and encrypted email provider
Anonymous and encrypted email providers function the same way regular email services do, while offering end-to-end encryption, additional privacy settings, and robust data protection. Here are some anonymous email services for privacy-conscious individuals.
ProtonMail offers end-to-end encrypted emails with other users of ProtonMail. A court can’t gain access to your emails, nor can anyone at ProtonMail itself. If you’re sending an email to a non-user, you can make them password-protected. If you’re worried about the images in emails tracking you, ProtonMail displays them securely. You can also set your messages to disappear after a set time. Plus, the service comes with a secure calendar.
Tutanota is an anonymous email service that offers end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication, making its service highly secure. As an open-source service, Tutanota allows security experts to verify that it is indeed up to code and truly protects all emails sent and received. It also has calendar functionality integrated into its email client that can be accessed on any device, similar to Gmail.
StartMail is a premium anonymous email client with a focus on data privacy, emphasizing ownership that will resist unwarranted intrusion. With StartMail, users can create and delete an unlimited number of email addresses, including “disposable” ones for one-time use that forward to your real address. Depending on the membership tier, users can also create email addresses with their custom domain and will have up to 10GB of email storage. Membership fees start at 5 USD per month.
Want to send anonymous emails without signing up for a service? Consider using Guerrilla Mail. This free email client automatically assigns users a random email address that is kept for one hour before it’s deleted, making it easy to remain anonymous. To send an email, head to the site and pick the domain you want to use. Then, compose your email and send away.
Cyber Atlantis is another free and easy to use email client. Similar to Guerrilla Mail, all users need to do is head to the site, input the email address of their recipient, and send the email. Users can also use Cyber Atlantis to check their IP addresses. The site also provides reading resources and contacts for those interested in privacy issues.
Anonymousemail lets you send emails right from their website. It has a free and premium tier, depending on your requirements. Premium members can edit their names and email, send attachments, and track the open rate of their email in real time. You could input a separate email (such as a Gmail) for replies, with the option of using a forwarding service, in which case your email remains hidden.
How do anonymous email accounts work?
There are two main types of anonymous email accounts. The first is the type that emphasize privacy, using end-to-end encryption so only the sender and recipient can read the email. The other type lets you send an email from a website without any kind of email account, making it virtually impossible to trace that email back to you.
2. Create a new email account as a “burner” email
While mainstream email services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook are not known for providing total anonymity, simply leaving off your name does provide a decent level of anonymity.
This might mean creating a new account, which is easy enough. Just ensure that it’s not linked to any other accounts, and don’t use your real name.
If what you’re sending is extremely sensitive and you don’t want your identity revealed no matter what, then don’t use a mainstream service. It might still be possible for the email provider to trace the account back to you and reveal your identity if they are compelled to by law.
Read more: Should you get a burner phone?
3. Hide your IP address when sending emails
It is possible for a recipient to see the IP address used to send an email. The IP address can reveal the sender’s general location, greatly narrowing down the sender’s identity. It might also reveal the sender’s ISP.
Not all email services reveal the sender’s IP address. For example, if you use Gmail, the IP address indicated is simply an IP address belonging to Gmail.
But to be safe, or if you’re not sure what your email service includes, use a VPN to mask your real IP address. A VPN gives you a different IP address shared by numerous users, anonymizing you.
You can also use Tor, which sends your connection through a chain of network nodes so you maintain anonymity.
4. Remove the metadata from attached files or images
Before sending out anything, whether with an encrypted email provider or or a more mainstream provider, always make sure to erase the metadata from any file or image before attaching it to your email.
Metadata can carry a lot of personally identifying information. On an image, the metadata can include the camera used, any editing software used, the owner of the device, and even the GPS location of the image.
There are several ways to clear metadata from an image. Here’s how to do it on your computer:
- Open your image in Preview
- Go to Tools
- Click on Show Inspector
- Select the (i) tab, then the Exif tab
- Delete the metadata
- Select the image
- Right click and choose Properties
- Head to Details
- Go to Remove Properties and personal Information
- Click on Create a copy with all possible properties removed
5. Encrypt your messages
Several email clients, like Gmail and Outlook, have options that allow you to send encrypted emails. To avoid having these emails traced back to you, you’ll need to create a new account with these platforms without using your real name. Next, you’ll need to enable encryption settings.
Here’s how to do it:
For Outlook, encrypting with S/MIME
- Go to File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings
- Next, head to Email Security on the left panel > Encrypted Email
- Then, click on Settings > Certificates and Algorithms, select the S/MIME certificate
For Outlook, encrypting with Microsoft 365
- When composing emails, head to Options > Encrypt
- Select if you want to Encrypt-Only or prevent forwarding with Do Not Forward
Use Confidential mode on Gmail
- When composing emails, turn on Confidential mode at the bottom right of the window
- Next, set an expiration date and passcode. This will send a passcode to the user before they can open the email.
Why would you want to send emails anonymously?
There are many reasons why people might want to send anonymous emails. These are some of the most common reasons:
- Work safely as a journalist
- Protect personal information in case of data breach
- Avoid online tracking by third parties, advertisers, and others
- Protect sensitive healthcare or patient information
- Report unfair, unlawful, or unsafe business practices as a whistleblower
- To sign up to websites or communities without revealing your true identity
Can anonymous emails be tracked?
If done correctly, an anonymous email that hides the sender’s IP address, metadata, and other information can’t be traced back to the sender. Before attempting to send an anonymous email, it’s important to determine what sort of information you actually want to hide before deciding on which method to use.
FAQ: About sending anonymous emails
How to send an email anonymously with Outlook?
Use an Outlook address that’s not associated with you, and (obviously) leave off your name from the account. To send the email, use Outlook.com rather than the Outlook app, which might give away your IP address. It will be extremely difficult for the recipient to know who sent the email. However, to further hide your identity, even from your internet service provider or from Microsoft, use a VPN or Tor.
How to send an email anonymously via Gmail?
Use a Gmail address that’s not associated with you, and (obviously) leave off your name from the account. This alone makes it extremely difficult for the recipient to know who sent the email. However, to further hide your identity, even from your internet service provider or from Gmail, use a VPN or Tor.
How to send an email without showing the sender?
You cannot send emails without showing the sender. However, you can create a burner or fake email and use a different name. This would have the effect of hiding the sender.
Can I send anonymous emails with attachments?
Yes, some free anonymous email services allow attachments in their emails. When sending attachments, ensure that the metadata is removed, as metadata can give away the identity of the people who have handled the attachment.
Is sending anonymous emails legal?
It’s perfectly legal to send anonymous emails. However, any emails used for illegal activity could be considered illegal, whether they are anonymous or not.
Can you find out who sent an anonymous email?
It depends on the method the sender used. If they used an encrypted, anonymous email service, then it’s virtually impossible to find out the identity of the sender. If they simply used a fake name, you could try checking the email’s header information to try to find the IP address the sender used, which could give you clues to who sent it. However, often the IP listed is the IP of the email provider, which won’t be helpful. The sender’s internet service provider and email provider both can know the sender’s IP address, and a court could order this information be revealed.
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