In September 2020, 47% of all emails received were junk mail, also commonly referred to as spam. Junk mail can pile up, too. You unsubscribe, then somehow you end up on 10 more lists, unsubscribe again, and the seemingly never-ending saga persists.
I prefer a more careful and one-time approach to such problems myself, so you are in store for an extensive list of steps to take. Until recently, I was overwhelmed with junk mail coming into my main Gmail account. I had hundreds sent to me daily. As a result, I took action a few weeks ago to prevent it from happening further.
Block spam senders
If you block a sender who sends you a lot of junk mail, you should no longer receive messages from them. Sometimes minor flukes occur, where some sift through the cracks.
These flukes are not so major that reblocking a sender won’t solve them. Blocking a junk mail sender can be done on mobile and desktop versions of the Gmail app, and the process only takes a few seconds.
On desktops or your laptop, it’s as easy as doing the following (the process is similar on both Android and iOS):
1. Click the icon with the exclamation point.
2. Choose whether to report the message as spam and unsubscribe, or just report it as spam.
By communicating with Google about spam, you’re participating in kind of a crowdsourced reporting pool for the greater good. Google does take action against what it considers ‘spam accounts’ and remembers to block the delivery of these messages in the future.
Filter them out
Do you ever receive emails that are not spam, but they keep going to that folder anyway? Although this is a separate issue, it still transpires regularly enough to get incorporated into this list. You can perform this action on both mobile and desktop versions of the Gmail client.
Here is how you set up a spam filter in Gmail.
First, log in to your Gmail account.
Next, click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner, then click Settings.
Following this, go to Filters and Blocked Addresses, then click Create a New Filter.
Next, type in the email of the sender you want to keep out of your spam folder.
Click Create Filter.
There are plenty of third-party email apps and add-ons designed to prevent spam, many of which use machine learning to acquire patterns of typical spam-filled emails. Some of them are free, and others have a subscription fee on a monthly or annual basis. Some of my favorites are eM Client, MailWasher, and POPFile.
Consider your email’s level of ‘exposure’
Your email is likely out there somewhere on the Internet, exposed. You can control some of the profiles where that information is visible, however. Doing so can protect against receiving spam emails, but it does take some vigilance.
To get started, you should opt-out of making your email public on social media profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. If you own a domain, it is worth investing in what is called ‘domain privacy.’ Domain registrars always extend a service called domain privacy. This service hides your personal information from public view for an additional fee.
There is only so much you can do using outside apps, and some of the burden; does lie on you. It could also be worth it to perform an appraisal of your Internet profile and see where you can remove/hide your email from the public. This is not a small feat, but it is also not an impossible one.
With a few hours spent and the willingness to clean up your inbox, you can make your email private as it should be. Doing so could protect you from bots that scour the web in search of adding visible emails to mass email lists for email blasts.
Many other creative measures happen to acquire emails illicitly, but taking some or all of these measures could give you back some control of your inbox.
When all else fails, unsubscribe
This was a large part of what I spent a chunk of time doing, unsubscribing from emails I had admittedly subscribed to at some point.
For one reason or another, these emails may no longer be relevant, and this is where something I call ‘the purge’ comes into play. Go through your emails and unsubscribe from every email account you wish to no longer get emails from; this will ensure you steer-clear-of unwanted junk mail from these senders in the future.
It might take a few rounds to get it right, but it will eventually pay off, not to mention it can be done casually as well, from both desktop and mobile devices.