How many e-mail subscriptions do you have? 50? 100? 200? If you’re like me, you have absolutely no idea, but you know that it’s a lot. In the interest of decluttering your inbox, it’s time to take action.
But unsubscribing isn’t always the answer—some newsletters are definitely worth reading! (If you need some geeky fashion advice, for example.) So what can you do to declutter an inbox full of newsletters?
Get a Daily Digest
Imagine that, instead of receiving dozens of e-mails every morning, you could receive just a single e-mail instead. We’ve shown you how Unroll.me can help you unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters in bulk, and that’s really useful, but if you don’t want to trash all of your newsletters, it can also help you manage them. After giving Unroll.me access to your e-mail account, you can see all of your subscriptions on the dashboard, and you can take one of three options for each one: unsubscribe, roll up, or leave in inbox.
If you choose “roll up,” that subscription will be added to your daily digest e-mail, which is delivered every morning. The amount of clutter this removes from your inbox is amazing — not only can you roll up all of your newsletters into a single e-mail, but you can also include social network notifications and other automated e-mails as well. If you want to see the full text of any item in your roll-up, just click on it and you’ll be brought to the full version in your browser. And none of the e-mails are deleted — they’re just archived so you can access them via your e-mail account later.
There’s also a new service called FollowLetter that appears to offer similar functionality. Unfortunately, it’s in invite-only beta at the moment. I’ve requested an invitation, but haven’t yet received one. If I do, I’ll report back on it! (And if anyone out there has tried it out, please leave a comment and let us know how it works!)
Archive Your Newsletters
If you want to completely remove your newsletters from your inbox so you can read them elsewhere, you have a few options. Of course, you can always just set up filters in Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or any other mail provider to send your newsletters to a specific folder and mark them as read (or not), so they’ll always be archived where you can find them later. But there are some better alternatives.
If you’re not familiar with If This, Then That (IFTTT), now’s a great time to learn! (The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use The Web’s Most Powerful Tool Like A Pro is a great free introduction to what IFTTT does and how it works.) By taking advantage of the app’s ability to perform actions in response to certain triggers, you can archive your newsletters to a number of locations.
For example, you could combine a forwarding rule and the above recipe to forward e-mails to Pocket. There’s also a really cool recipe for sending e-mails labelled “Evernote” to Evernote. Just set up a Gmail filter to label your e-mails with “Evernote” and mark them as read, and you’ll be set. (There’s a similar recipe for sending labelled e-mails to Pocket.) IFTTT also has an e-mail digest channel that you might be able to combine with Gmail’s built-in filtering to create your own version of Unroll.me’s daily roll-up.
Marcello Scacchetti has also created a really cool script that will allow you to backup e-mails from your Gmail account to Google Drive folders as PDFs, giving you a way to create a newsletter repository that you can browse at your leisure. Setting up the script and running it is a simple process — just apply a label to all of the e-mails you want archived, then hit “Archive Gmail Messages” in the spreadsheet, and they’ll be copied over to your Drive. You can then archive all of those e-mails to a Gmail label or just delete them. When I ran the script, image-heavy e-mails showed up without images, making this best-suited for text-heavy newsletters.
Keep Newsletters Separate in Your Inbox
The recent introduction of the tabbed Gmail inbox brought with it the Promotions tab to your inbox, where a number of newsletters will automatically be categorized. Of course, being automated, it will get things wrong from time to time. Fortunately, however, you can help Gmail learn which e-mails should be categorized as promotional and which should go to the primary inbox. When you get a newsletter in your primary box, just drag it to the Promotions tab (you can also do this with items that you’d rather have in your primary inbox instead of the promotional one).
After you’ve taught Gmail to effectively categorize your newsletters as promotional items, you can spend most of your time in your primary inbox and just hop over to the Promotions tab whenever you want to get caught up on your subscription.
Create a Different Account
A lot of people maintain multiple e-mail accounts for various purposes, and this strategy can be used to keep your newsletters from cluttering up your inbox, too. Create a second account with a free provider, and use that account to subscribe to e-mail newsletters. Then just hop over to that account when you want to get the latest Groupon deals or read the MakeUseOf newsletter (you do get the MakeUseOf newsletter, don’t you?).
If you’ve already signed up for a bunch of newsletters with your primary e-mail address and you’d like to use this strategy, you can simply set up a rule or filter to forward your newsletters from your primary account to your secondary one and then delete them. While this is a less-than-elegant strategy, it’ll save you the time of editing every single one of your subscriptions.
How Do You Manage Newsletters?
I’ve used a number of these different methods, and I find Unroll.me’s daily roll-up to be the best method for me. I like that it allows you to roll up some newsletters and allow others through to your inbox so you make sure to not miss them. I know a number of people who use separate e-mail accounts with a great deal of success, too. Any of these strategies will work, though, and you might find that a combination of them — or something completely different — is best for you. And, if your inbox is totally beyond redemption, you can always unsubscribe from newsletters in bulk.
Which newsletter-management strategies do you find most effective? Share any creative tips in the comments below!