How to Sign Up for ProtonMail
  1. Point your web browser to
  2. On a piece of paper, write down the following:
  3. Click the Sign Up button (near the upper right hand corner of the page).
  4. Click the word Free to expand the free plan option.
  5. Click the Select Free Plan button.
  6. Click in the Choose username box, and fill in a new username that you make up for yourself.
    Note 1: your username will be the part of your new email address before the @ symbol. For example, if you fill in duckbilledpterodactyl for the username, and if ProtonMail accepts this, your new email address would be
    Note 2: for technical reasons, usernames can't have spaces in them, and likewise many other punctuation and special characters are not allowed. The letters a-z and the digits 0-9 are always allowed.
    Note 3: your username must be globally unique. If your name is Susan Roberts and you fill in susanroberts for your username, ProtonMail will tell you that this name is already taken, because somebody else named Susan Roberts already signed up for ProtonMail. Be creative.
  7. Click in the Password field and type in a password for your new ProtonMail account.
    Note 1: The best way to make a password more secure, is to make it longer. Avoiding common names, dictionary words, and obvious sequences (abc, 123, qwerty, etc.) also helps, but nearly any password over 30 characters long is unlikely to be compromised by the common types of automated attacks, even if it's an easy to remember sentence.
  8. Click in the Confirm field and type the same password in again.
    This is necessary to convince ProtonMail that you know what you typed. If the confirmation doesn't match the password, you will have to enter them both again.
  9. If you are signing up for an email account for the first time, you do not already have another email address, so leave the optional Recovery email field empty.
  10. Click the Create Account button.
  11. A warning will come up, telling you that you left the recovery email field blank. Click the Confirm button to indicate that you did this on purpose.
  12. Take a moment to fill in the blanks on the little piece of paper.
    • Fill in the username and password that you ended up with, on the paper.
      Important Note: Passwords are always case-sensitive. This means that for example a and A are completely different characters. (When the computer does password-checking math, it counts a as 97, but A counts as only 65. So if you change the capitalization, the password won't add up to the same hash value, and the computer will think it's a different password — and different is wrong.) Also, spaces and punctuation are allowed, but they matter, and specifically they have to be reproduced exactly the same. (A space counts as 32. Yes, really.)
      If you typed Ithinkpasswordsaredumb but wrote down I THINK PASSWORDS ARE DUMB, and then some other day you try to log in by typing what you wrote down, the computer will tell you that your password is incorrect, and it will not give you access to your account. Make sure you write down exactly the same thing you typed, with exactly the same capitalization, punctuation, spaces, and everything, exactly. The computers aren't being mean on purpose, they're just nowhere near smart enough to understand when something means the same as something else, even if the computer remembered what your password was, which it doesn't: it remembers the answer to the password-checking math problem. So for the computer to understand that what you typed is the same password as the other time, it has to be really exactly the same.
    • For the email address, write the username again and then add
    • You will want to keep this paper somewhere safe, so that you can refer back to it if you ever lose track of your email account information. I usually recommend keeping it where you keep other important papers, such as your birth certificate.
      Some people think they won't forget their username and password. A few months later, they come to me for help. There's usually not much I can do to help them. Don't trust your memory. Write your account information down and keep it in a safe place.
      Some people think they are never going to need email again, after they finish the thing they are currently doing that requires it. This doesn't generally work out the way they expected. Keep your email account. You'll probably need it again in a few weeks or months.
  13. Protonmail will now ask you to prove you are human.
    Because Protonmail is anonymous and you can sign up for it for free, spammers would use automated computer programs to sign up for thousands of new accounts per second, which would overwhelm their ability to continue to provide the free service. In order to prevent that, you have to do something that is much harder for a computer program, than for a person. (Google solves this problem by making you give them your phone number and prove that you can get text messages or phone calls at that number. Protonmail does this instead.)
  14. Leave CAPTCHA selected (it should already be selected by default).
  15. Click the I am not a robot button.
  16. The CAPTCHA will show you a photograph divided up into squares, and ask you to click all the squares that contain some particular thing. Click the relevant squares to select them.
    In this example, we are supposed to select all the squares that have traffic lights. There's one traffic light in the photo, and it straddles the line between two squares, so I have selected both of those squares, the one that has the top part of the traffic light, and the one that has the bottom part. Then I looked around the rest of the photo, because sometimes there's more than one of the thing it's asking about; but in this case there don't seem to be any additional traffic lights.
  17. When you have selected all the relevant squares, click the Verify button.
  18. Once the CAPTCHA closes, click the Complete Setup button.
  19. ProtonMail will now ask you for your Display Name. The field will be pre-filled with a copy of your username, but you are allowed to change it. Make whatever changes you like.
    Unlike the username (which has technical significance), the display name is just intended to be read by humans, so you are allowed to put spaces and other special characters in it.
  20. Click the Finish button.
  21. ProtonMail will now show you your inbox. The signup process is complete. Congratulations, you now have a ProtonMail account.
  22. As long as you don't lose your account information, you will not need to go through this process again. From now on, you can just log in to get your ProtonMail email, using the much shorter and simpler instructions below.
How to Get Your ProtonMail email
  1. Point your web browser to
  2. Click the Log In button.
  3. Click the Username field and type in your username, that you wrote down when you signed up for email.
  4. Click the password field and type in your password, that you wrote down when you signed up for email.
  5. Click the Login button.
  6. ProtonMail will now show you your inbox. This is a list of all the messages you have received. (The first time, you'll just have Welcome messages from ProtonMail.)
  7. To read one of the messages, click on the subject.