Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How to Send Self-Destructing Emails

Ever sent an email you later regretted writing? We all have, but it can be especially bad when those emails are sent to the wrong person or get leaked on the Internet. You might not know this, but there are many providers that offer self destructing email services. These services give you complete control over who reads them, how long they exist, or whether they can be printed, copied, or forwarded.

Hey, you don't have to be a secret agent to send self-destructing emails, just a very smart geek with a reputation to maintain, so check out what these four services can do for you:

  • Will Self-Destruct: This service is free. There's no sign up process, but you have to fill out a web-based form with the recipient's email address, subject, and your message. The recipient receives an email with a link to a web page containing your message. Once the link is accessed, a countdown begins, and the message is destroyed. The email itself looks like spam, so make sure you tell your friend to expect something from willselfdestruct.com. SDMessage and Destructing Message are two similar alternatives.

  • KickNotes: Another web-based service that sends self-destructing messages after filling out a form. You can actually control the times the message can be viewed or how long you want the message to exist. Once the message is created, you can either send a link to a web page through your own email address or from KickNotes.

  • Kablooey Mail: This free service requires sign up, but it gives you complete control over emails you send. Kablooey lets you retract emails, set the number of times it can be read, set an expiration date, and blocks the recipient from copying, forwarding, or printing its contents. I had some problems signing up for the service so I haven't tested this one, but apparently the Wall Street Journal did, so here's their review.

  • BigString: You'll have to sign up for this free service, but the list of features is impressive. All email accounts feature optional self-destruction, email recall, expiration dates, tracking, masquerading, and restrictions on printing and forwarding. This service rocks! I signed up for an account, and I just love how I was able to change the contents of an email, even after I had pressed the send button. I wish all email services had this feature.

There are many others like the ones above, so if you want other options check out Tech[dot]Blog, who rounded up a great list of self destructing email providers.