How to get rid of promotional emails using Gmail


We all know how it goes: one day you look at your Gmail account, and you’ve got several thousand emails. Why be surprised? It’s all too easy to subscribe to dozens of company promotions without realizing it. If you buy anything online from a new service or retailer, you will be subscribed. If you want to read an article from a source that demands registration, you will be subscribed. If you sign a petition or give money to a charitable cause, you will be subscribed.

It is, of course, easy to ignore all those subscriptions and just let them pile up in your Gmail Promotions tab. But what if there is a really good sale at your favorite clothing retailer, and you miss it because of the mass of other promotional emails? What if you’ve got so many emails stored up that they’re starting to eat into your Google storage limits? Or what if just the thought of having several thousand promotional emails sitting in your Inbox is just, well, irritating?

Sometimes it’s a good idea to spend a little time cleaning out all those excess emails in your Gmail account and preventing more from coming. Here’s how. (Note: these all require using Gmail with a browser. There is very little you can do with your mobile app; those options are listed at the end of this article.)

Google has actually made it fairly easy to unsubscribe from an email subscription. Emails which are perceived by Google’s AI engine to be promotional will have a small “Unsubscribe” link next to the sender’s name on top of the email.

Click on the link, and you’ll get a pop-up box with a blue “Unsubscribe” button. Click that, and you should soon stop getting emails from that source. (Remember that it can take a few days to get your name off a subscription list.)

Keep in mind that there are a lot of spammers out there that use “unsubscribe” to confirm that an email account is legitimate; responding to those could open you up to increased (rather than less) spam. Your best bet on this score is to use Gmail’s unsubscribe feature only for email from vendors you know. Any email from your Spam tab, or any that you aren’t familiar with, should be blocked instead of unsubscribed.

To block a sender, simply open the email, click on the three “More” dots in the upper right corner, and click on “Block [vendor name].”

Sometimes (a bit unpredictably), Gmail’s AI engine will notice you haven’t opened an email from a specific source in over 30 days and will pop up to ask you if you want to unsubscribe. By all means, take advantage of it should that occur.

Unfortunately, unsubscribing and even blocking from a list doesn’t do anything about the several hundred emails that are still sitting in your Gmail account. Even if it’s email that’s from a company you like, sometimes you simply want to get rid of all the outdated email cluttering up your unbox.

There are a variety of ways you can get rid of old emails. You can try one of the apps that claim to make it easier to clean up your inbox, but it can be just as easy to do it yourself.

To get rid of an email from, say, a specific sender:

  • Type the name of the sender into your search box.
  • If the name of the sender is too general, or may appear in other emails, then open one of the emails in question, copy the email address, and paste it into the search box.
  • If you want to make sure you’re just getting emails sent to you, you can type in “From:[sender]” or “From:[email address]” instead. You can also click on the arrow on the right of the search field and use any of those fields to search for the emails you want to delete.
  • You should get a list of all the email you received from that sender. Click into the square box at top left corner of your email list. This will check off all the emails on that page. You can then click on the garbage can “trash” icon to send all the emails to trash.
  • If you have more than 50 emails in your search list, after you click into the little square, you’ll see a message at the top of the list that reads, “All 50 conversations on this page are selected. Select all conversations that match this search.” The latter is a link; click on that and all the email from that sender will be selected.
  • You’ll get a typical “Are you sure you want to do this?” message. If you’re sure, go ahead and click “OK.”

If you’re a little nervous about deleting all the emails, you can run your eyes down the list and uncheck any you don’t want to trash; you can also archive those you’re not sure about, just to get them out of your inbox. Keep in mind that the mail isn’t really gone yet; you have 30 days to go into Trash (the link is in the left column) and restore it.

There isn’t a lot you can do using the mobile Gmail app. You can, of course, open any email and look for the “unsubscribe” link, which is usually at the bottom of the email.

While the “unsubscribe” tab doesn’t appear on the Gmail mobile app, you can block a sender by opening the email, clicking on the three dots in the top right corner, and selecting “Block [sender name].”

You can delete multiple emails by pressing on the icon for each email you want to delete and then selecting the trash can icon.

Otherwise, if you’re on a mobile device, you’re better off accessing Gmail through your browser in order to perform any of these tasks.