We’ve all received them – those dreaded emails. Perhaps they don’t even deserve to be held in the same regard as “emails”. They’re worse than just an email, they’re a forward! Nooooo! OK, so I’m probably dramatizing them just a tad, but not by much, wouldn’t you agree?
Forwarded emails are a pain. You might be thinking that it’s a bit harsh to put them in the same category as spam (referring to the introductory image), but frankly they practically are – not technically, but as far as what we view as important in our inbox, they might as well be spam.
If you’re cursed with multiple chronic forwarders (contacts who forward everything), your inbox is likely to be overloaded with emails that you never intend to read. Sure you could ask the person (or persons) to not send you forwards, but what if they’re difficult to deal with, or perhaps continue to forward them to you even after you’ve asked them to stop? Thankfully, there are ways to deal with this on your end instead of relying on others’ habits to change.
Setting Up Folders & Filters
The magic in keeping forwards out of your inbox lies in filters and folders, which most email clients have. We have an article that extensively covers how to do this in Gmail, Hotmail (now called Outlook.com) and Yahoo Mail. This article is your best friend if you have any or a combination of these web mail accounts.
Now what if you don’t have Gmail, Outlook.com (not to be confused with the desktop program) or Yahoo Mail? Perhaps you have AOL or some other webmail account? If so, there are likely ways to create folders and filters in these too. However I highly recommend you look at Gmail or Outlook.com as an alternative. With both Gmail and Outlook.com you can actually import email from another account without having to change your email (although it might not be a bad idea to do that too if your email is something like firstname.lastname@example.org).
We’ve covered how to do this with Hotmail and Gmail, but if you have something different than an Outlook.com account, the process in Gmail would be similar for any webmail client. I’ve also personally written an article on MakeUseOf about Hotmail/Outlook.com and how to get control of your inbox. This includes creating filters, folders and staying on top of new mail. The article refers to it as Hotmail, but the features haven’t changed in that regard.
As far as desktop clients go, there are ways to do this with them too. Below are two links of the more popular clients – Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird.
- MS Outlook Tip- How to Automatically Organize Incoming Emails
- How to Set Up Message Filters In Thunderbird
Which Is Better For Filtering Forwards? Outlook.com Or Gmail?
Now that we have established that creating filters is the most efficient way to manage forwards, let’s take a look at which webmail client allows you to do this the easiest – Outlook.com or Gmail. Gmail has long been the go-to email client for establishing filters and organizing email through labels and recently they have made it quite a bit easier to do so.
Above is all you have to do to create a filter. Once you fill out how you want Gmail to detect the filter, click “Create filter with this search” and choose what Gmail does with the emails.
Now there is another way to do this, which is explained in the article I previously linked to regarding setting up filters in Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. This was published before Gmail made this change, but is still relevant and you can create filters that way as well.
In order to filter by a term such as “Fwd” or “Fw” in Outlook.com, you must go to Options, then More mail settings. Under Customizing Outlook, click Rules for sorting new messages. Click New. If you want to filter out forwards you might change the dropdown menu in Step 1 to Subject and the dropdown menu next to it to contains then type fwd in the text field below it.
In step 2, deciding if you want to use a new or previous folder will decide which option you use. If you’ve already created a folder that you want your forwards sent to, select it from the dropdown menu where “Move to Inbox” is. If you haven’t created it yet, type the name of the folder in “Move to a new folder” text field.
Outlook.com has several other options allowing you to easily filter out senders. In fact, this is a strong point in Outlook and it’s quite impressive how easy it is to manage emails now with Sweep, Categories, Folders, and Flags.
Both have other options which allow you to delete the message before it even comes to your inbox. If you are 100%, and I mean one-hundred percent, positive that you won’t ever need to read any forwards, this isn’t a bad option, but “blocking” can be dangerous as it takes away your discretion. I would much rather recommend choosing the setting to skip the inbox and send to a folder. This allows you to still keep the email, but also not worry about it clogging up your inbox.
The bottom line is you should use whichever one you feel most comfortable with. If you use Gmail and want to give Outlook.com a try (or visa versa), you can easily do that. Also, please realize that I am not biased towards Outlook.com or Gmail, I simply feel I would be doing a disservice to you by recommending Yahoo Mail, AOL or any other web mail client that is far below par and that leaves Gmail and Outlook.com as the two best options for managing not just your forwarded emails, but emails in general.
Really, filtering out forwards is quite simple. And it’s not just forwards that you can filter out – we get loads of graymail that needs to be removed and filtered out. James wrote an excellent article on removing and managing graymail. And actually, Outlook.com does an excellent job with this. I would even go to the extent of saying that it makes it easier to handle than Gmail does.
So, tell us, who’s that one person who always sends you forwards? And what do you think about blocking these emails versus skipping the inbox? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments!