Let me guess, another annoying email just landed in your inbox, you've had enough of them and you decided to do something about it?
Well, you're in the right place, in this guide I will teach you how to stop spam emails permanently.
I was in your shoes too, a while ago, and I decided that my time is too precious to be spent being bothered with attention-grabbing or plain useless emails from websites or people that I either interacted with briefly or never interacted with before.
So I'll share here with you all I know about preventing and stopping spam dead in its tracks.
Table of Contents
- Step #1 - Prevent spam from reaching your inbox in the first place
- Step #2 - Use a mass unsubscribe tool to ditch unwanted subscriptions
- Step #3 - Optimize your anti-spam filter by feeding it more data
- Step #4 - Stop opening or responding to spam emails
- Step #5 - Create an automated filter (Gmail, Apple Mail)
- (Optional) Check if your email address has been compromised in any known data breaches
Step #1 - Prevent spam from reaching your inbox in the first place
Prevention. Prevention. Prevention.
The first and most important thing to do is to think about your personal email address as something that shouldn't be out there in the open.
Think about it as something like your home address.
You don't want people on the internet to know where you live, do you?
So you shouldn't give out your email address to so many websites so easily.
As soon as it's out there in the open, anyone can copy it and add it to some list that they then use for marketing or they sell to someone else who in turn sells it to someone else who in turn puts it in some data platform that then thousands of marketers can use.
So your email address can end up in the hands of thousands or even tens of thousands of people.
You're probably a bit conflicted right now.
How do I not give out my email address if I want to sign up on a website? It's asking for it and I want to sign up!
Enter Burner Mail
You can use a tool such as Burner Mail. It masks your email address by making use of email aliases generated on the spot.
This way, you can give out an email alias that then forwards to your personal email address.
You don't have to switch up your email experience by using another email provider since emails land in your inbox just as before, but now, whenever you notice a sender acting weird, you can just disable that alias and spam goes away!
It works like magic!
Step #2 - Use a mass unsubscribe tool to ditch unwanted subscriptions
After you've made sure that your personal email address is safe and protected by using Burner Mail, the next thing you should do is manage your email subscriptions.
If you're like me and you're subscribed to a lot of newsletters and services, unsubscribing from each one manually is going to take forever.
Opening each individual email, searching for the small "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom, and then navigating the labyrinth on their website trying to make sure that you actually unsubscribed.
Some even prevent you from unsubscribing unless you answer their survey.
They're purposefully making it hard to unsubscribe so that they can keep spamming you and steal your attention.
Some, even re-subscribe you back after a while, without your consent!
Fortunately, there's a solution – mass unsubscribe tools.
Leave Me Alone is one such tool and the only one that we can wholeheartedly recommend (some of the other ones have been controversial).
Leave Me Alone analyzes your inbox and gives you a nice list of all your subscriptions.
You can then easily unsubscribe from any service you wish, without the hassle of finding and opening each individual email from each sender.
They also have a pretty strong stance on digital privacy. They don't store any emails and they only ask for the minimum amount of information in order for the tool to work.
Step #3 - Optimize your anti-spam filter by feeding it more data
These days, most email providers also offer anti-spam filters built into their solution.
But sometimes, some emails manage to sneak past those smart anti-spam filters.
In order to "train" the filter, whenever one such email sneaks past and lands in your inbox, it's important to "Mark it as spam".
This way, the system will have an additional data point by which it will judge future emails. In time, it will become more and more effective at choosing which emails deserve to go into your inbox and which are forbidden.
Here's how you can do that in most popular email clients.
Whether you're using the mobile app or the web app, all you need to do in Gmail is to find the "Report Spam" button:
On the mobile app, it's located under the "More options" menu after tapping the three dots icon at the top-right corner of the app.
In Apple Mail, even if you're using an iCloud, Gmail, or any other address, the functionality is the same.
After you click "Move to junk", Apple Mail will consider all future emails from that sender as junk.
Step #4 - Stop opening or responding to spam emails
Spammers are getting smarter and smarter these days.
Whenever someone opens or replies to a spam email (even as a joke) their email address gets added to a different list.
A list of email addresses that are considered more vulnerable and more valuable in the eyes of a spammer.
This means that your email address will become a hotbed for spam email. It will be traded more often between different spammers.
The way they know if someone just opened an email is by using a special invisible "script" that they embed in the email. So you can't even tell that they got a "read receipt".
Then, after you opened or replied to a spam email, a wave of more spam emails starts coming, in the hopes of one actually accomplishing its task – which can be either:
- to make you purchase something (the least of your worries)
- to redirect you to a website that collects your personal information to then use that to commit credit card fraud or other shady activities
- to install spyware on your computer or phone
- to commit fraud by persuading you into sending money to someone
- and many more
Step #5 - Create an automated filter (Gmail, Apple Mail)
This last step is meant to provide you with an extra level of reassurance & comfort.
Feel free to skip it if you're already confident in the first 4 steps.
With that said, let's get into it.
There's a way of creating your very own, custom spam filters in most email clients.
It works by defining a set of rules that the email tool will consider when evaluating an email.
If the email doesn't pass the set of rules that you defined, it will be disapproved.
Here's how you can set automated filters in some of the most popular email apps.
In Gmail, it's super simple.
All you have to do is open the advanced search bar by clicking on the dropdown arrow.
Next, define your rules, for example, choose to ignore emails that have the words "claim, offer, discount" in them.
Press on "Create filter", choose what Gmail will do with those emails, and voilà, spam-free inbox from now on!
All you have to do in Apple Mail is go to Preferences -> Rules and click on the "Add Rule" button.
From there, define the set of rules that you want the filter to use and choose what it will do with the emails that apply.
Click "OK" and you should be set.
Check if your email address has been compromised in any known data breaches
An extra step that you can take is to check whether your email address was compromised in any known data breaches.
An email address that was part of a data breach is available on the internet for anyone to grab.
It can also mean that hackers may be able to gain access to that account by decrypting the password from the data breach file.
If your email address was part of a data breach, it is advised that you change your password immediately to avoid any hostile access to your account.
To check if your email address was compromised, you can use our handy Data Breach Checker tool.
Keep in mind that the most important step of all is the first one – prevention. You have to be really careful where you give out your email address.
And there you have it. If you do all these steps, there's no way you'll have to worry about spam ever again!