A look at the email forwarding service AnonAddy

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 25, 2019

AnonAddy is an open source email forwarding service designed to protect an Internet user's email addresses from spam and other unwanted emails.

Most Internet users use one or a handful of email addresses on the Internet. They use these to sign-up for services, do their online shopping, communication, and any other activity that requires an email address (and those that don't require an email but allow emails to be added to accounts).

The use of a manageable number of email addresses improves manageability but it opens the door for unidentifiable spam, profiling, as well as privacy and security issues.

Using individual email addresses for each service on the Internet would make spam sources identifiable right away, and it would improve privacy and security. Problem is: it is cumbersome to create that many email addresses unless aliases are supported.

Tip: find out if your email address has been sold.

Email forwarding services may assist users, and one these is AnonAddy. The service is available in free and paid versions; paid versions offer more features and make things more comfortable to use.

Note: Email that is sent to your email address flows through the service's servers. The service does support GPG/OpenPGP though. An option to self-host is also provided.

Setup is quite easy: you pick a username and password, add your "real" email address, and verify the email address. Once the account is set up, you may get started using it right away. AnonAddy offers two main options to create aliases:

  1. Create them on the fly using the format [ANYTHING]@username.anonaddy.com. Anything can be any valid email username and the service will create the aliases automatically when the first email arrives that references it.
  2. So-called UUID emails may also be created; these are random email addresses that use the format [email protected]. Free accounts are limited to 20 of those, the limit is upgraded to 50 for the Lite plan ($1 per month) and unlimited for the Pro plan ($3 per month).

What happens when emails are sent to an alias or UUID email address? The email is forwarded automatically to the "real" email address.

You may use the dashboard that AnonAddy provides to manage aliases, recipients, domains and usernames. Each alias is listed on the dashboard and you may set these to inactive or trash them in case you no longer need them.

The actual email that arrives in the inbox of your "real" address includes the alias so that you can link spam or other unwanted content that you receive to a specific service.

Recipients are a user's working email addresses that all the aliases and UUIDs of AnonAddy get forwarded to. Free accounts support up to two, Lite five and Pro 20.

One of the limitations of the free account is that replies are not supported. While you may reply using the "real" email address, it is generally not recommended as you will expose it to the service. Lite and Pro plans support anonymous replies (20 and 100 per day).

Another restriction of the free account that bandwidth is limited to 10MB per month. The developer of the service states that the 10 Megabyte limit is good for around 140 plain text emails per month. Lite and Pro increase the number to 50 MB and 500 MB respectively.

The limit may be sufficient for sign-up activities but probably not for other activity (e.g. conversations per email with others).

AnonAddy's paid accounts support a number of additional features: Both Lite and Pro benefit from email queue priorities over Free accounts, and both support additional alias domains and custom domains (Lite 1, Pro 5).

Closing Words

AnonAddy is an open source project that anyone can sign-up for or self-host. The free plan works fine for light use cases, e.g. account sign-ups on several Internet sites per month, but users who use it more actively may run into the, rather low, quota sooner than later. That leaves paid plans or self-hosting as the two available options to use the service.

Setup and use of the service is comfortable and straightforward. One issue that especially free users may run into is that spammers may look up the service to protect against detection; the issue is not unique to AnonAddy though and it can be somewhat mitigated in the paid accounts.

You could also use disposable email addresses - if not blocked by the service you want to sign-up for -- as one-time email addresses.

Now You: Do you use email forwarding services or tricks?

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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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