Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Send self-destructing messages with Burn Note

You can feel like a spy by e-mailing messages with Burn Note, which are then destroyed after your recipient opens them.

Matt Elliott Contributor
Matt Elliott, a technology writer for more than a decade, is a PC tester and Mac user based in New Hampshire.
Matt Elliott
2 min read

Have you ever sent an e-mail you later regretted sending? If you want to send sensitive or confidential information via e-mail without leaving a digital trail, or if you just want to feel like a spy, give Burn Note a try. You compose a message on the Burn Note site, which then gives you a link to send to your friend or double agent. When the recipient opens the Burn Note, a timer starts counting down before the message is destroyed.

You don't need to create an account to send messages with Burn Note. Simply type in a message and hit Send. You'll be given a link to copy, which you can then e-mail. If you sign up for an account, you will receive confirmation when the note is opened.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

There are a few options when sending a Burn Note that can make your message even more top secret. You can send your note to display as plain text or you can choose two options that make your message harder to copy or for prying eyes to see it. You can send it so that it appears as a series of short phrases, making it harder for someone to take a screenshot of your message. Or you can send it in spyglass mode, which blacks out the message, forcing the recipient to hold down the mouse button to view a small portion of the message.

You can also password protect a Burn Note; presumably, you would send along the password when you e-mailed the Burn Note link.

Spyglass mode. Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

By default, the self-destruct timer is set for 3 minutes, but you can set for any time you'd like. As soon as your recipient opens the message, the counter above the message begins counting down. When it hits zero, the message is deleted. The developer states on the FAQ page that "once a Burn Note has been viewed it is completely deleted from our servers and from the recipient's computer."

You can send messages without a timer; notes sent without a timer set will remain in existence until your recipient clicks the "Burn It!" button below the message, closes the browser window, or leaves the page. Also, all unread Burn Notes are deleted after 72 hours.

(Via One Thing Well)