What is A Private Email Relay & What is Apple's New Hide My Email Service?

Jul 06, 20216 min read

What is a Private Email Relay?

A Private Email Relay is a service that helps you hide your real email address by providing you with email aliases that you can use just like your regular email address, for things like signing up on different websites, subscribing to newsletters, the usual stuff.

The way this works is, you sign up on the website or app with an email alias generated by the relay service instead of giving up your real email address and when that app/website sends you an email, the relay service receives it on your behalf and then forwards it to your real email address.

If this sounds interesting and you want to know how this works in detail then you should definitely checkout this post where I explain how to setup your own Private Email Relay using AWS.

Reasons Why You Should Use Such a Service

Most people have only one or maybe two email ids, and they use the same email addresses to connect to dozens or maybe even hundreds of websites and services, that means there is a great deal of data that is associated with your email address, which is exactly what malicious actors on the internet are after all the time.

Using a Private Email Relay service you can get a unique email address for each app or website, which helps you preserve your privacy by hiding your real email address.

Here's how it can help you

Helps you fight Spam

There are times when you just want to try something out, but the websites and apps won't let you proceed any further without sharing your email id, and once you do, then starts the never-ending trail of spam emails. You might have an option of unsubscribing from the emails, but that doesn't work always.

If you use an email alias in place of your real email address, you can just disable or delete that particular alias and you're done, you'll never see another annoying spam email from that app, and others, in case your data was sold.

Limits the impact on you in an event of a Data Breach

Data Breaches are kind of inevitable and keep happening from time to time, even the tech giants can't keep you safe from it.

It's worrisome when your data is part of a data leak, and, if like most people, you use a single email address with most of the services, it's even more worrisome for you.

Malicious actors are very well aware of this fact and know how to use it to their advantage.

You are now more susceptible to various social engineering attacks like phishing on other platforms as well. If you use a different email address for each website or service, you can easily discard that alias in event of a data breach and you are also very less susceptible to attacks on other platforms.

Keeps your identity private

You can use random aliases just about anywhere online where you don't want to use or reveal your real identity.

What is Hide My Email Introduced in iOS 15?

Hide My Email service is Apple's implementation of a Private Email Relay that was announced recently at the WWDC'21 and will be available to use later this year when iOS 15 and iPad OS 15 are released.

This feature allows you to generate random email addresses to use online. The feature is integrated into the OS itself and first party Apple apps like Safari browser, Mail app automatically show you an option to use a random email address whenever required, and you can generate as many email addresses as you want and you can manage all these addresses in iCloud settings. This feature is available only with the new paid iCloud+ subscription, users on the free plan can only use this feature when using the Sign in with Apple feature.

The general idea is the same though, it helps you hide your real email address by using a randomly generated address instead, and Apple handles forwarding the emails to your real address, it even allows you to reply to these emails without sharing your real email id.

Are There any Alternatives to Hide My Email?

Yes, there are. Here's a few of them.

Firefox Relay

Firefox Relay is a service similar to Hide My Email, developed by Mozilla.

This service has a free plan but has some limits on the number of aliases you can create.


SimpleLogin is an Open Source alternative to Apple Hide my Email.

It offers a free plan with a limited number of aliases, and even offers support for custom domains with paid plans.

Email Sub Addressing

Most of the major email services provide this feature, but it is still not very many people know about it.

You can basically append any label as a suffix to your user name part of the email address with a + symbol.

Example: Lets say your email id is [email protected], you can replace it with [email protected] and you will still receive email in your inbox, but now you can apply filters on this to address.

Your email service provider may have some different ways to do sub addressing, you can research about it yourself.

But this approach has some issues.

First of all, this does not always protect your privacy, spammers are also aware of this and can implement parsers to remove the label and extract the original email address.

Second, some of the websites and apps consider this as an invalid email address and don't let you use it.

But anyway, it is still better than using the same email address everywhere, if you can use it.

So that's it for this post, now you know why is it important to protect your privacy online and what you can do to hide your real email address.

As a next step you should definitely checkout this post where I explain How to Setup your own Private Email Relay using AWS.

Shubham Batra

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