Too much unwanted email? Use these tricks for identifying and unsubscribing


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Reader Betina Baylor would like to do something about removing her name from marketing email. She writes:

Over the years I’ve purchased items from a variety of online merchants as well as signed up for some recommendation services. Because I have, I receive a lot of email from these places and I’d like to stop getting some of it. Do you have any suggestions for identifying and stopping these messages?

I do. Rather than suggest that you click through every message in your Inbox seeking Unsubscribe links, let’s use the power of email filters to bring these messages to your attention.

If you’re using Apple’s Mail, try this: Choose Mailbox > New Smart Mailbox. In the sheet that appears name your mailbox Unsubscribe. Configure the first condition in the area below to read Entire message contains unsubscribe. Click the plus (+) button and configure another condition to read Entire message contains “privacy policy”. Click plus again and create a third condition that reads Entire message contains “manage your account”. Click on the All pop-up menu above the conditions, choose Any, and click OK.

mail unsub

This smart mailbox will help you identify messages that contain unsubscribe links.

When you now select this smart mailbox you’ll find all the messages that contain any of these phrases. Click on the appropriate link within each message to unsubscribe from email alerts.

Note that if a message is spammy in appearance—it’s from a service or advertiser you’ve never heard of—mark it as spam rather than click any links within it. It’s possible that clicking Unsubscribe in such a message will simply confirm to a spammer that they’ve found a legitimate address that they can then sell to other spammers.

“This is all well and good,” you may be thinking, “but I receive most of my email on my iPad, which doesn’t support smart mailboxes.”

In that case you should pay a visit to your email server and create a filter there. Let’s use Gmail as an example.

Using your web browser, log into your Gmail account. Along the left side of the window click More at the bottom of your list of mailboxes and then click Create New Label. In the resulting New Label window enter Unsubscribe in the name field and click Create.

Now click the gear icon and choose Settings. In the window that appears click on the Filters link and then click Create a new filter. In the window that appears enter unsubscribe OR “privacy policy” OR “manage your account” in the Has the words field and click the Create filter with this search link. In the next window enable the Apply the label option, choose Unsubscribe from its pop-up menu, enable the Also apply filter to matching conversations option, and click Create Filter.

gmail unsub

You can also create a Gmail filter to seek out these messages.

Now when you check your Gmail account on your iPad you’ll find that it holds a new Unsubscribe folder. Select it and you’ll see any messages that contain the phrases you entered in the filter. Tap on the appropriate links in the body of each message to remove yourself from the sender’s list.

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