I Found the Best Trick for Deleting Thousands of Useless Emails

Laptop on bed

I once read that the best way to handle emails was to action them as soon as you’ve read them. ‘Only touch it once,’ read the advice. And while it is solid advice, and has since slightly altered my behaviour, realistically, it’s not always possible.

More often than not, I do find myself having to mark an email as unread if I can’t action it right at that moment. And most of the time, those emails are newsletters containing articles I want to read, shopping items I want to buy or important updates in my industry. I’ll have a quick browse of the email, realise I want to read a story, buy an item or reach out to a professional contact, and, if I can’t do it right then, mark the email as unread… and then never come back to it.

Slowly, those newsletters have been building up. Over the years, I’ve collecting thousands of them, all sitting unread (or, in the case of some, open in my optimistic hope that I’d come back to it) in my inbox.

Then, today, wanting to relieve myself of some clutter — I firmly believe virtual clutter can have the same negative psychological effects as physical — I decided to Google ‘how to clear my inbox’, and I stumbled on a brilliant hack I wish I’d known years before.

It came in a YouTube video, posted by user Lucas Roberts (back in 2019, might I add, so really, I could’ve known sooner). In the clip, Roberts says that his trick allows you to get rid of all your old, useless newsletters — all at once.

The first step is to search ‘unsubscribe’ in your inbox, Roberts explains. “It’s a cool, little hack, but technically, every marketing email should have the word ‘unsubscribe’ in it,” he says. “Search all your mailboxes and then sort them by ‘From’ so you can delete big chunks of them.”

While Roberts uses Microsoft Outlook on a Mac for the process, I tried it using my Gmail account and, sure enough, every one of my unread and read newsletters popped up.

I do have to mention, though, that one important email series — a collection of rent receipts — that I do want to keep for my records and wouldn’t want to delete, did also pop up. For this reason, I wouldn’t suggest deleting all your emails in one go. That said, all the other emails that popped up, were ones I was happy to delete.

You can watch Roberts run through the hack in detail here.

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