Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to reduce email spam in your inbox

Spam emails aren't much more than an annoyance for most people.  But that annoyance can grow into a headache as you spent a larger and larger part of your day deleting spam messages from your inbox.  To stop that headache before it starts, here are some ways to cut down on spam emails.

- Use a spam filter

Most email clients are equipped with some sort of spam filter that will attempt to determine which messages are "real" emails and which are junk.  The junk emails are usually sent straight into a junk or spam folder, where you can browse through them if you want to make sure nothing important got mixed in with the spam.  (It's a good idea to occasionally look through your spam folder, because email filters aren't flawless and sometimes things slip through the cracks.)  Depending on what email program you use, you may be able to adjust the spam filter's settings, to change how much suspected spam is let through and reduce the chance of important emails being labeled as spam.

- Mark messages as spam

Spam emails will sometimes make it through your filter right into your inbox.  When this happens, mark those emails as spam (if your email program allows it) to get them out of there and also to help "train" your spam filter as to what is spam and what isn't.  In Yahoo! Mail, for example, all you have to do is put a check mark next to the spam email(s) and click the gray Spam button.

- Don't give out your email address

Companies use marketing to help get their brand and product in the public eye.  Many times when you give out your email address when purchasing something -- either in a store or online -- you will be added to that company's mailing list and you'll start receiving newsletters, special offers, and promotional emails.  If you're lucky, the emails will only come from that one company, but you may also receive spam from partner companies or even random companies that you've never heard of before.  You can avoid these mass emails by not giving out your email address, except to trusted sites and companies where it is necessary for conducting business, such as PayPal.

- Unsubscribe from mass mailing lists

Most of the time when you get emailed as part of a corporate or retail mailing list, there will be a link at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe from that list.  If you click this link, you'll be taken to a web page where either you'll be unsubscribed automatically or you'll have to choose to unsubscribe from the list.  Once you have taken your name off the list, you should see your number of unwanted emails start to go down a bit, though with some companies it may take days or even weeks before they remove you from their database.

(Originally published on, November 2010)

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