Your time and attention are so valuable – and the world knows it! No doubt you receive countless emails everyday from other businesses advertising their products, sales and special deals coming up. And while email is super convenient, it’s also prone to spam.
To help you declutter your inbox and gain some much needed mental space, we’ll give you some tips for how to stop spam emails dead in their tracks, as well other handy hints to protect your inbox at the same time.
What is spam email?
Also known as ‘junk email’, spam email is unsolicited messages that are sent in bulk by email. Fun fact: the concept of ‘spam’ originally came from a Monty Python sketch where a couple is in a restaurant trying to order something other than Spam (the popular tinned meat). Vikings start singing in the background about how amazing Spam is and soon it’s all that can be heard – thus creating the idea that spam is everywhere and repetitive!
Seven tips for how to block spam emails
You don’t have to suffer through all the spam – there are ways you can clear your inbox and make sure that only the important messages get through. Let’s take a look.
1. Train your email spam filter
Most modern email services, like Gmail or Outlook, have built-in filters to detect when a message arrives and is either junk or fraudulent. They tend to ‘red flag’ these emails and send them directly to your spam or junk folder. You do have the ability to customise these settings so your email client knows what’s junk and what’s not.
In Gmail, for example, it’s a good idea to review your spam folder each week. Mark any emails that actually aren’t’ junk as ‘Not Spam’ so they don’t end up in the spam folder again. Similarly, if an email arrives in your inbox and Gmail thinks it’s junk, a message will appear at the top of the email asking you to report whether or not it’s spam. The more often you do this, the better trained your spam filter will become, saving you time and potential headaches down the track.
2. Unsubscribe from email lists
If an email lands in your inbox that you don’t recognise and aren’t interested in anymore – especially one that looks like it was sent en masse – scroll down to the bottom of the email itself and click ‘unsubscribe’. You can do this with any email that’s been sent in bulk and it’s a great strategy to use to reduce the amount of email you get on a regular basis. Or an even better option is to not subscribe to lists unless you’re really interested in getting that mail.
3. Use a different email address
If you’re big into online shopping, you’ve probably been subscribed to an email list everytime you make a purchase. To save you from an overload of emails, a good work around is to create a separate email address dedicated solely to online shopping. While it won’t prevent the spam from arriving, at least it will be separate to your work email and you can retain some control over what email lists you stay on and which you give the flick!
4. Try a third-party extension
Still drowning in spam emails? Consider adding a third-party app to help tighten things up. There are some great options for third-party apps that intelligently filter incoming mail before it hits your inbox, giving you the option of keeping or deleting them. A lot of these apps gets smarter over time as you mark which emails are spam and which aren’t (kind of like your regular email filter but more advanced).
5. Avoid opening spam emails
This might seem obvious, but if you don’t recognise an email, don’t open it. Especially emails that are sent directly to your junk or spam folder – they could pose a security risk or even leave your data vulnerable. If in doubt, just delete the email.
6. Don’t put your email address on your website
Spambots trawl the internet looking for email addresses to harvest. If you have a website, avoid displaying your email address on there. You might consider adding a contact form instead with a few key questions, that way only legitimate queries will make it through to your inbox.
7. Never reply to spam
If you’ve opened an email that looks like spam, don’t reply to it or download any files attached to it. If the email has come from a friend’s address, let them know right away as this may mean their email address has been compromised. Spam can often look very appealing, but if it isn’t a message you were expecting, be very careful about how you handle it.