Your email inbox is like a virtual home — after all, that’s where all your first official points of contacts go when you sign up for a new service, apply for jobs, buy stuff online, etc. And just like your physical home, letting your inbox get cluttered can feel chaotic, with most of that mess stemming from marketing or newsletter emails.
These unwanted types of emails can end up in your inbox in all sorts of ways. For example, when you buy something online, you may have inadvertently given the company permission to send you more promotional materials, or a company may have sold your email as part of a list, paving ways for you to become spammed by marketers.
So here are a few ways to make your inbox more peaceful.
Some marketing emails can be useful (who doesn’t love a discount code?) but if you’re tired of getting emails with no material use, you can elect to unsubscribe on a case-by-case basis.
Regardless of what email app you use, start by checking the bottom of an email from which you want to unsubscribe. In small text, the sender may have offered the option to take yourself off the mailing list, with a link that says “Unsubscribe” or “Change email preferences.”
Read the email carefully, as this option may be hidden in a big block of text with link text that blends into the rest of the paragraph. Follow the link and the instructions to unsubscribe. Some emails might even instruct you to manually reply back with the subject line to request removal.
Another way to unsubscribe is to do it through your email provider. Gmail has begun recognizing marketing emails and filtering them to its Social or Promotions tabs to keep them out of your main inbox. (Note that this option may not be available to G Suite users unless their administrator has enabled the option.) Still, while the emails are out of the way, legitimate emails can sometimes be filtered to these tabs, where they could get lost in the chaos. So sometimes these tabs could use a little cleaning up.
On the desktop, Gmail now offers an unsubscribe link at the top of most marketing emails and newsletters. Below the subject line and next to the sender information, there should be an unsubscribe link that will mark the email as spam.
After clicking this, Gmail will ask you to confirm your decision. Click “Unsubscribe” again, and emails from this sender will now be rerouted to the spam inbox. This option is not yet available on Gmail’s iOS and Android apps.
Spam filtering not enough for you? If you want to make sure you never get emails from this sender again, you can also block the sender entirely. On both desktop and mobile apps, you can click the three dots on the right side of the sender’s information to open “More” options. Select “Block” to prevent emails from this particular sender from appearing from that point forward.
On iOS Mail
Apple’s native Mail app for iPhone and iPad also offers automatic newsletter and marketing email detection so you can unsubscribe without having to look for a specific link. If this option is available, it will show up at the top of an email when you’ve opened it. Click this link and confirm that you want to unsubscribe.
Unfortunately, you cannot block emails on the iOS Mail app since it is just a portal for accessing emails from providers like Outlook, Gmail, or Yahoo. Go to those providers directly for options on how to block specific senders.
On Microsoft Outlook
Similarly, Outlook offers the option to unsubscribe at the top of an opened email. Available on both desktop and mobile apps, Outlook will show you a link to unsubscribe at the top of the email above the sender information. Click this to unsubscribe and confirm.
Outlook’s mobile app does not offer the option to block individuals from sending an email. To do so, log into your account from a desktop and open an email from a sender you’d like to block. Click the dotted icon to open more options and navigate to “Block” to prevent the sender from emailing you any further.
On Yahoo Mail
Yahoo handles email unsubscribing a bit differently on mobile and desktop. On the mobile app, open an email and navigate to the dotted icon. Here, you can select to either unsubscribe from junk mail, or mark it as spam.
The desktop version, on the other hand, does not offer unsubscribe as an option. At the top of an opened email, you can select the spam icon next to the delete button, or click the dotted icon to find the option to block the sender from emailing you.
Bulk unsubscribing tools
If you have multiple emails across providers like Gmail and Outlook, it may be easier to use services that help you unsubscribe to emails than to do each sender individually. Free apps like Unroll.me and Unsubscriber offer to do this in bulk; however, you have to agree to give these businesses access to your inbox — which it may then sell to other marketers. Unroll.me, in particular, faced backlash in 2017 when customers learned that their data was sold to Uber to track whether people had been using competitor Lyft by monitoring for receipts. Still, if you’re interested in trying apps like these (and then revoking their third-party access later) we’ve written a tutorial on that, too.
While these options aren’t going to remove annoying emails from your life entirely, they’re good steps to take to declutter your inbox. By consistently marking which emails are spam and reading only the ones you care about, filters will start getting better at recognizing which emails you care about and which you don’t.
Again, like a home in real life, cleaning up isn’t always fun and easy, but if you put in a little elbow grease it may be worth the peace of mind of a clutter-free inbox.