Sometimes your worst email enemy is you--or, more specifically, your compulsion to sign up for newsletters, daily deals, notifications, and other email subscriptions. In many cases, taming this daily influx of impersonal email is all you need to get your inbox under control.
Normally this would require you to manually pick through your messages and unsubscribe from each sender individually. Unroll.me offers a much simpler alternative. Once you sign up for the free service, Unroll.me scans your email and presents you with a list of all your subscriptions. All you have to do is scroll through it and click the "unsubscribe" button next to each one you no longer want to receive. You may find there are some subscription emails you do want to read, you just don't want to read them "right now." In those cases, you can opt to have them added to a "rollup"--a daily digest of messages you choose to have sent to you each morning, afternoon, or evening.
When Unroll.me presented me with my list, I was surprised to find I had 127 subscriptions, many I had long since forgotten signing up for, and the majority of which I had no interest in keeping. As I started unsubscribing, I discovered you can unsubscribe from only five items before you have to share the Unroll.me service on one of your social networks to continue--not much to ask for the convenience of using the service, I suppose, but annoying if you're not gung-ho about sharing everything on Facebook or Twitter.
In the end, I whittled my subs down to a dozen, which I compiled into a rollup I receive each morning when I'm most receptive to reading email. The winnowing process only took about 15 minutes. For me, it was the easiest and most impactful measure I took to reduce the size of my inbox. Regardless of which service you use to manage your email over the long haul, it makes sense to use Unroll.me first to clean out the junk.
Aol's Alto takes the unique approach of sorting your email into virtual stacks. To connect Alto to your email account, you just click on your email provider--the free service works with most of the big ones--and in seconds it sorts your messages into default categories of "daily deals," "social notifications," "retailers," "photos," "attachments" and "starred." You can create your own stacks by dragging and dropping messages from the inbox scroll on the left to the stack window. Once you place an email in a stack, all future messages from that sender will be sorted to it.
Alto makes it exceptionally easy to scan your email for what needs to be attended to now and what can wait, particularly for those who process information better visually. The one drawback is it requires you to work out of your browser rather than your email client, which may be a deal-breaker for some.
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