How to stop spam emails

Cut down on the spam in your email diet with these tips

how to change your gmail picture
Aleksey Boldin/123rf

There are few worse ways to start your day than sitting down at your computer with a warm cup of coffee and opening your email, only to see a glut of spam messages spill out in front of you. Advertisements, chain letters, and outright scams can flood your inbox every day, and deleting them can feel like an endless game of whack-a-mole.

The first thing to note is that you will never be able to stop all spam. No matter how often you wash your hands, you’ll eventually get sick, and the only force on Earth more persistent than bacteria are spammers. Still, if you take the right precautions, and put in a little work, you can trim your incoming spam emails to a manageable amount. Here’s how.

Step 1: Manage your spam filters

Most email services have built-in features to protect against spam. Your email service may automatically deem certain incoming emails as spam based on various factors — such as specific, “spammy” words in the message, or use of attachments — and you can “train” this filter by manually marking any spam that makes it through. In Gmail, for example, when you open a message that you consider spam, you can open the drop-down menu next to the reply bottom in the upper-right corner, then click Report spam.

how to stop spam emails report it

This will move the email in question to your spam folder, and, more importantly, sends data to Gmail so that its machine learning programs can more accurately detect spam.

You can also set spam filters yourself. If you find yourself getting a lot of spam with common themes — perhaps you get a lot of offers about jobs where you can make $500 a day working from home — you can create a filter to send such messages directly to your spam folder.

If using Gmail, for example, click the gear icon in the upper-right and click Settings from the resulting drop-down menu.

how to stop spam emails gmail settings

Select the tab labeled Filters and blocked addresses. Under the heading The following filters are applied to all incoming mail, you will see all the filters you have applied — or none, if you haven’t.

how to stop spam emails create a filter

Click Create a new filter to open a window where you can specify certain things that you consider to be spam.

how to stop spam emails email filter settings

For example, filter out any messages that contain certain words (such as “Work from home”), or any messages that include attachments greater than 2MB in size.

Step 2: Unsubscribe from commercial emails

Not all unwanted emails are malicious; it’s likely that much of the clutter in your inbox consists of commercial messages, such as when a clothing store sends you a promo for an upcoming sale. Although these can be annoying, it’s easy enough to opt out of them. Under U.S. law, commercial emails must include “a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from [the sender] in the future.” Many such emails will feature an “unsubscribe” button, usually near the bottom of the message. While it may be annoying to have to go into an email and look for the unsubscribe button, once you do, you won’t need to worry about receiving emails from that sender later on.

Step 3: Keep your email address out of spammer’s hands

One of the best precautions you can take to cut down on spam is to keep your email address as private as possible. If you have a work email, only give it out to people you know professionally, and avoid posting it on popular sites or social media services — if your job depends on maintaining an online presence, this might be difficult. Maintain a separate email address for commercial purposes (such as when a business or restaurant offers to email your receipt rather than print it).

It will likely be impossible to prevent every spam message from reaching you, but following the tips above should help stanch the flow.

Step 4: Opt for some spam-blocking software

If you want an additional layer of protection beyond what your email client provides, you can also install software specifically to filter spam from your inbox. If you’re looking for free spam-filtering software, you can utilize applications such as Spamhilator (Windows) or SpamSieve (MacOS), both of which can connect to your email client and may offer tools that email clients don’t, thus giving you a higher detection rate.

Computing

Microsoft drops Surface Go price to $350 for Black Friday week

The Microsoft Surface Go convertible tablet has seen a large price drop this Black Friday sales season, lowering the base model to $350 and even the upgraded ones have seen $50 knocked off of their asking price.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Social Media

Going incognito: Here's how to appear offline on Facebook

How do you make sure your friends and family can't see if you're on Facebook, even if you are? Here, we'll show you how to turn off your active status on three different platforms, so you can browse Facebook without anyone knowing.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

Razer takes up to $500 off of its Blade gaming laptops for Black Friday

If you're a fan of Razer's understated aesthetics that earned the Blade comparisons with Apple's laptops, you can score some big savings on Black Friday, as Razer is offering up to $500 discounts off of its gaming notebooks.
Computing

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Buying Guides

Solid-state drives are speedier than hard disk drives. Are they worth it?

As the price of solid-state drives comes down, it's reached a point where it's hard to recommend a system without at least a hybrid solution. In the battle of SSD vs. HDD, a clear winner has emerged.
Computing

Service restored after glitch locks out Microsoft Office 365 business users

Microsoft reported that a problem with its system caused some users to be locked out of their accounts. Because the multifactor authentication system went down globally, some Office 365 and Azure users were unable to log in.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Deals

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…
Computing

Want to game on your Chromebook? Here's where to start

Chromebooks aren't great for gaming, but there are a few titles that most machines can run. There's a surprisingly diverse crowd that includes role-playing games, action side-scrollers, and puzzlers.
Computing

All the best Apple MacBook deals for Black Friday 2018

Shoppers looking for a new Apple laptop could find huge savings on a new MacBook come Black Friday. Retailers are offering discounts as much as $650 on select MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models this holiday season.