How to get a free email address
When you connect to an internet service, your provider will generally provide you with your own email address.
However, if you move from that provider, or even change plans within the same provider, you can lose access to that email.
It can be very helpful to set up a “generic”, or free, email address; one that’s not attached to any specific service provider. These are portable, staying the same and able to be accessed, regardless of the internet connection you use.
This page provides some tips and suggestions for finding, setting up, and using such email services.
Examples of free email services
This is a list of the most commonly-used free email suppliers. There are others out there that may suit your purposes better, look for reviews, try them out, and see what one you like the best.
|Name||Supplier||Cost or requirements|
|iCloud.com||Apple||Free with any Apple device|
Setting up a new email account is very easy and shouldn’t cost you anything.
Why get another email address?
In today’s world, technology is changing rapidly, and it is unlikely you will be with the same provider each time you move or change technologies. If you do change providers, you risk losing all the email that you’ve sent and received through that provider (this depends on whether you access the mail through their webmail services, or you download it to your computer).
If you do get a new provider and have an email address that is tied to the old provider, ask them if you can keep this, until you can move to a generic email provider. Some may allow this for a small fee.
You can also set up a “redirect” from your previous email address to your new one. Like a physical mail redirect when you move house, this automatically forwards email to your new address, for the period of time you agree with your old service provider.
Different mail programs have different forwarding methods; check their tip or help sheets for information on using them.
What’s good about a free/generic email address?
Most free email addresses are accessed via an ordinary web browser, so you can access them anywhere.
They’re generally very anonymous. You can make it as individual, or as impersonal, as you want. Many won’t require any truly identifying details, although most will ask for a first name and a last name to sign up with, and some may ask for address details.
There are even “disposable” mail services; addresses that only last a short period of time, enough to send a message and receive a quick response, but which then stop working.
The mail you get is kept online. You can add them to a mail program such as Apple Mail or Outlook across multiple devices, and you’ll always be up-to-date.
Many (including Gmail and Outlook) have their own free apps, or can be easily connected to the built-in email app on a tablet or smartphone.
Many of these apps or software will allow you to add multiple email address to the one program, so you see all your email in one place.
Some mail services come with additional tools and abilities.
- A Gmail account also gives you access to Google Docs and Google Drive.
- An Outlook account gives you access to the online version of Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Skype).
- iCloud gives you access to the online versions of programs such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
- ZohoMail allows you to use your own domain name and doesn’t use ads.
Choosing your email address
Your email address is the bit before the @ in any mail account. For eg, email@example.com.
Up to a point, you’re free to choose whatever you like for the first part of your email address.
Once you’ve selected your address, you generally can’t easily change it, so choose carefully.
It could be your own name, a business name, a nickname, or something as impersonal as a meaningless string of letters and numbers.
Common words and names are likely to be taken. If you really want to use a particular combination of words or names, consider adding a number, additional name, or initial, to make your address unique.
You can often add full-stops or hyphens to make a name yours – for example, “firstname.lastname@example.org” is a different address to “email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
The system will warn you if a name is taken, and won’t allow you to progress until you have a unique address.
Make sure you set up a secure password for your email address.
Try to avoid something that is easy to guess such as your date of birth, children’s names, or simple number combinations such as 12345 or 00000. All of these are easy to guess.
If you use a password storage program, such as the one built-in to your web browser, they can generate completely random passwords. They are impossible to remember, can’t be guessed, and you’ll need to store them in the password program, but they are very useful.
Things to look for
These may be considerations on which sort of free or generic mail service you choose.
- How much storage do you get?
- What size attachments can you add?
- Are there limitations on attachments?
- What is their spam filtering like?
- Do they show you ads?
- Can I change the address if I want?
- How much information do they need from you? Are you comfortable providing this information?
- Do they verify your personal information with any other service? Are comfortable with that verification?
- How easily can you get access back to your email if you forget either your login or password details?
- Can you easily use it to sign up to other services?
- How secure is the system? Is it secure enough for your needs? Something to use for home use may not need to be as secure as a business service.
- Can you set up mail forwarding/redirects from or to other services if need be?
Lifewire: 10 Best Free Email Accounts
Skymesh: 5 free email platforms