How to Block Unwanted Emails in Gmail

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The findings of a 2017 Return Path study suggest that 68.4% emails in the average Gmail user’s inbox are promotional. The same study hints that primary emails now account for less than 3% of all Gmail messages. In other words, you might find only one out of thirty emails immediately useful for your daily needs.

Not all unproductive emails, however, are of equal concern. Blocking occasional senders is easy, but when spammers ignore your request to unsubscribe, you can’t avoid reading their unwanted emails. Also, it opens a can of worms in that other spammers find a path to your inbox.

Luckily, with a few minor tweaks, you can coast through your Gmail inbox every day. By adopting effective email habits, you need not worry about unwanted emails again.

First, after logging in you must adopt the latest Gmail version appearance to smoothly accept the changes below. If you prefer the “Classic” Gmail look, simply toggle between the different appearances by clicking the gear icon.

Use Gmail’s bulk selection in the “Report Spam” feature to flag multiple emails as spam at the same time. This would ensure that any future emails from undesirable senders directly reach the Spam folder. The technique is fast and accurate enough in dealing with repetitive senders.

Gmail Report Spam Feature

With just a few minutes of practice, you can get a handle on the everyday annoying stuff which sucks time and energy. Later, if you want to unblock a sender, you can manually do it in the Spam folder. It is important that you do not accidentally delete a desirable email sender. To avoid this, use Gmail’s latest “Archives” and “Snooze functionalities.”

For those pushy email senders who always disregard recipient privacy, a more permanent solution is necessary. Gmail’s filtering algorithms are mature enough to battle annoying spammers, as they quickly identify their presence. The menu for “Filters and Blocked Addresses” can be found in Settings.

Once set up correctly, the Rule Engine can identify the sneakiest of spammers, and stop them in their tracks. It is highly effective in handling spammers who try to enter through email lists, aliases, and phishing.

Gmail location for filters and blocked addresses

After identifying the spamming email addresses, open a new Gmail tab and click the visible link to create a new filter.

Hovering over the text - "Create a new filter" in Gmail

Before creating a filter, it is important to understand the concept of email aliases. Spammers use a combination of aliases and subject lines to reach a user’s inbox. What this means is that you can evade them by mentioning all the aliases (with a + sign) in the “From” section. The “+” sign here refers to another alias.

You should ideally add your email alias with a “+” sign in the “To” field while registering on the website. This prevents undesirable emails from showing up in the inbox. It is important to know that there are no limits on the numbers of such aliases or keywords.

Sample Gmail filter with alias entry

In the last stage you must check the “Delete” option. Once you properly mark the aliases for removal, you will never hear from that entire group of spammers again.

Filter spam email for deletion

Instead of struggling with spammers gaining access to your Gmail account, it is better to keep them at bay. Most unnecessary emails originated at a time when you innocently gave away your email address. To avoid compromising data, it might be a good idea to use disposable email addresses. Emailondeck, Yopmail, and Mailinator are a few temporary email services that help users gain access to eBooks, vBulletin forums, discounts, and coupons. However, do remember that many of them are often blocked by authority websites.

Additionally, social media and job and e-commerce websites are some of the biggest sources of unwanted emails through notifications. Thankfully, you can disable them all at the source.

No one likes to receive spam emails in their inboxes, but the fact is they exist and are persistent. Using the above tricks, you will be able to keep spam emails to a minimum.

What other ways do you use to block unwanted emails?

7 comments

  1. “Once you properly mark the aliases for removal, you will never hear from that entire group of spammers again.”
    Not so. All those emails will wind up in your TRASH folder, forcing you to get rid of the manually. It would be nice if Google added a DELETE FOREVER option to the filter setup, allowing for an automatic disposal of undesirable emails.

      • I’ve been suggesting/requesting/demanding a Delete Forever option for close to 10 years. For my troubles I have not even gotten a “Don’t bother us” email from Google. In fact, I haven’t gotten any indication that my emails even got there.

        • Maybe because it tinkers with their algorithm that keeps the messages in the Trash folder for at least 30 days. It’s a two-step procedure to delete your emails permanently. They have to do it because so many of us are trigger-happy in hitting the Delete button, only to regret it afterward.

          The Trash folder does not count toward the total storage space so one can simply avoid looking at its contents. I don’t think it’s a hassle to empty the folder once in a while.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article about to Block Unwanted Emails in Gmail but will this technique also work to block another useless mail?

    • Gmail has gotten better over the years thanks to the filters described here, and because it assigns a spam score to each individual message due to Machine Learning.

      With Outlook.com, one can go into the most restrictive mode under safe lists option. However, even the regular emails often end up in the Junk folder. It becomes more time consuming to sort things out on Outlook.com compared to Gmail.

      Zoho email client is pretty decent (the blacklisting/whitelisting feature is how all spam should be ideally treated) but anything sent from Zoho itself is often treated as spam by so many users! I think it’s heavily unfair.

      Yahoo is still a trusted webmail provider but the spam problem nowadays is getting out of control. Pharmacy and pills spam are a regular annoyance with Yahoo whereas Gmail sorted out those issues many ages ago.

      It’s always best to have an email with your domain and Outlook/Thunderbird client. One can create highly customized rules to detect and arrest spam. But even then, if the domain isn’t all that well-known, any emails sent may end up in the recipient’s junk folder. However, if the content is not promotional, usually there’s nothing to worry.

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