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A Theory For Everything

Using Mailinator As A Dev Tool

What is Mailinator?

MailinatorMailinator is a disposable email service.  The idea is that anyone can use any email address @mailinator.com for a short period of time, and then toss it away without consequence.  Why would someone do this?  Well most of the time it's to get past some registration wall, or other form that requires you to enter an email address on a website that you just know is going to SPAM blast you later.  Using Mailinator, you could enter This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or even This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Then you can check the mailinator.com website a few minutes later to view any emails the site sent you so that you can do whatever you needed to fill out the form for.  And you can rest assured that when the site sends you SPAM later you'll never know about it!

One of the great things about Mailinator is that you don't have to register for an account first.  Just make something up on the spot when it's needed, and check it shortly after (very soon as emails only stay on Mailinator's system for a few hours at most and then are automatically deleted).

You also don't need any passwords for Mailinator, anyone can check anyone's email.  Of course, it's mostly junk mail anyway.

Alternate Domains

Trick number one.  You can use alternate domains as well as mailinator.com.  For example, you could also use This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and any emails set to those addresses will be delivered to the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it inbox for you to check later.  Mailinator has a bunch of domains you can use; check the site for a current list.

Here is where it gets cool.  If you have your own domain (say example.com) that you don't use for email (and never ever will), you can use it to create your own personal Mailinator service just by pointing your MX records for that domain to the same MX records used by mailinator.com.  Then you can use This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (and so can anyone else if you share).  Be warned though, while this can be useful, especially for getting past registration walls that check for mailinator.com domains, you're effectively killing email on example.com forever, so if you plan on selling that domain at some point, be nice to the future buyer and don't do this!

For Developers

Trick number two.  If you're testing an application, web, desktop, or otherwise, that needs to send emails to various addresses, you can test it easily by telling your application to use the Mailinator SMTP server as its relay.  This lets you send test messages to real addresses, without the worry of the test messages actually being delivered to the real addresses while still allowing you to view the email was successfully delivered.  Also, if your Internet provider blocks port 25 outbound as most seem to do nowadays, no problem, just use port 587.

Thanks

I'd like to thank the guys behind Mailinator for providing such a useful service.

Tags: development | email | mailinator | smtp | spam

Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 November 2008 02:00 )