Reduce emails, be happy, part 3 - Unroll.me

This is the third installment in a series on reducing the amount of email. The first post focussed on email from twitter. The second one about email from LinkedIn.

For many people, the neverending stream of email is something they have accepted as necessary evil. It can be near impossible to stay on top of things. And once you are drowning you start to miss that important message, or spend the whole day in your inbox, get no real work done. That's bad.

But, there is good news! Although email is often misused (including half the company on cc for example), there are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of email. This series gives a few tips to increase the Signal-to-Noise ratio. In other words: remove some of the emails you get but really never look at.

Today's subject: Subscription email

Wait, what? First Twitter, then LinkedIn, where is Facebook?

Ok, so what about Facebook?

Well, I was going to write about facebook, but I am not competent enough, simply because I do not have a facebook account anymore. I left Facebook about 18 months ago. Just for researching the subject, I created a temporary account, and found out 1 place where you can set 3 options, but was unable to figure out how to more finetune the stuff you get from facebook. 

So, this is an open invitation to you to leave a comment if you have a great tip to reduce emails coming from facebook that others can benefit from.

Now, back to today's topic: Subscription Email

How many daily, weekly, monthly newsletters do you get? 10, 100, 1000 maybe? No matter how many, you are no longer reading them all thoroughly. Time to clean that up so that the important stuff in your inbox becomes more visible and you just away the email fat that you no longer need to carry with you.

Most people sign up for a newsletter, either knowingly or unknowingly, when signing up with a service or buying a product online. Together with the checkbox to agree to terms of service, many sites have a check in the checkbox that says you want to receive newsletters, product updates, etc. Or maybe you signed up deliberately but no longer really read them.

A few months ago, I had started to hit the unsubscribe button on most newsletters when I would see them in my inbox. The links are usually at the bottom of the email in smallprint. But, since I had well over 100 subscriptions, it would take ages to go through them all: find the mails in the inbox, hit unsubscribe and repeat. Besides, for most of the newsletters I no longer even realized I was subscribed, so searching for something you don't know is very hard.

Enter unroll.me

There are several services that can help you with this problem, but the one I tried and liked is Unroll.me. I am not affiliated, nor do I get paid, I am just user so happy about it that I want to share it with you.

Unroll.me does a few things for you:
- Present you a list of mailings you are subscribed to
- Ask you to either unsubscribe, roll-up or let it be
- New incoming subscriptions are accumulated and presented weekly or monthly

It is a great way to quickly get through the old subscriptions that have been lingering in your email and to catch the new ones and present the mailings you want to stay subscribed to in an orderly fashion.

Cleaning up current subscriptions

Let's get started. Open a new browser tab and visit unroll.me.

Step 1. Signup

You are greeted with a signup form. All you do is enter the email address you want to have checked, then hit that checkbox to indicate you have read and agree with their policies. No, you did not just sign up for another newsletter.

And finally, hit continue.

In my case, the service succesfully determined I was signing up with a gmail address, but if it is not clear (because you use your own domain for example), specify your email provider.

Step 2. Authorize unroll.me

Next you have to grant unroll.me permission to read your email account. It does that automatically after you authorized it. Authorization is necessary only once. 

What does means is that from now on, unroll.me is able to securely log into your account automatically and scan for subscription based emails.

For the tech-savvy: it uses OAuth to securely connect to, and IMAP to access your account. This means they have access to all your email in that account. If you want to know more about their security and privacy policies, check out this FAQ page and their privacy policy.

Step 3. Let is scan, let is scan, let it scan

Unroll.me will now start a scan of your account to check for subscription based messages. This may take a few minutes. While it is scanning it will show how many subscriptions it found. In my case it found 84 subscriptions and it will list them alphabetically:

 

Step 4. Roll-up or Unsubscribe

Now comes the fun part. Because unroll.me has done all the hard work of going through your account and search for subscriptions, it is now very easy for you to quickly decide which ones to keep.

For each subscription found, there are two possible actions: Roll-Up or Unsubscribe. The latter is obvious: one click to unsubscribe from the mailing. When you hit the "Roll-Up" button that subscription is added to your roll-up. 

In the image below, you can see I unsubscribed from 49 lists, and added 34 to my roll-up. The scan originally found 84 subscriptions, 49+34=83, so it seems to have lost one in the proces. Not sure what happened there, but I am not too worried about it.

Strange, 34 + 49 = 83, but it found 84 during the scan. No clue where #84 went...

Strange, 34 + 49 = 83, but it found 84 during the scan. No clue where #84 went...

 

Step 5. The Roll-up explained

The roll-up is the lasting silver bullet that this services provides. From now on, it catches your subscription emails and keeps them away from your inbox. They are accumulated in a separate unroll.me folder in your account. Additionally, unroll.me will keep track of the subscription emails that arrived during the day and roll them all up intothat one folder and let you know by e-mail what newsletters arrived through a daily digest. It will only send you an email if you actually received any subscription email that day.

Today, I did not receive anything, because no subscription email was received today.

Look at that, after editing my newsletter subscriptions ruthlessly, today there was nothing! Great news! Less = Better!

Look at that, after editing my newsletter subscriptions ruthlessly, today there was nothing! Great news! Less = Better!

The subscriptions in your roll-up, can always be accessed and removed from the roll-up if you want to receive a particular mailing in your inbox as it comes in.

Future subscription emails

From now on, unroll.me will catch your new subscription emails. And you can choose how often you want to receive the email for new subscriptions:

 

Wrapping up

That concludes todays post on reducing the amount of email you receive. It is a great little service that helps you reduce the number of subscriptions and present in a nice, coherent way.

I would love to hear your tips and tricks to reduce the amount of email in your inbox. If it helps you, other can benefit from it as well. So, please share!

Header image credit: Dave Crosby