I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions, but, in the spirit of getting more done in 2014, I decided to tackle my email–like so many of you who ask us how to clean up your inbox when it’s overrun with more emails than anyone can keep up with. PaperKarma took care of my physical junk mail, so now, it’s all about cutting out the virtual variety with Unroll.me.
This service attempts to clean up all those subscriptions you signed up for a million years ago, or the ones you mysteriously found yourself getting without ever signing up at all.
It’s free (yay!) and uses a secure authentication service for Gmail and Outlook.com accounts, which means it never has access to your login information, and it encrypts passwords for Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud accounts. Just sign up online, link your email account (or even two accounts, if you’re willing to have two log-ins), and Unroll.me goes to work automatically.
It took less than a minute for it to scan my most heavily used account, pulling up 500 subscriptions. (Eek!) You then choose which ones you still want in your inbox, which you want to get rid of–say that one big mall brand that emails you 6 or 7 times a day–and then compile the rest in a single “rollup” daily digest of thumbnail images and excerpts. That way you can scan through them all at once, and click over if you’re interested in that big sale or the update on saving arctic foxes.
It’s way faster than individually reading all 54 individual emails that you see below. And you can change your preferences any time, by unsubscribing or “unrolling” which means the subscription will go directly to your email inbox instead.
It would be nice if you could customize the categories – say you want something like “charities” instead of just dumping them into “lifestyle.” Also, the daily digest email is serving banner ads to you, but we’ve found them pretty unobtrusive so far, and a small price to pay for a free service.
Another caveat: Don’t mess up on inputting your info! A friend accidentally set up info for Outlook .com email, confusing it with his Outlook app, and unroll.me explained he was locked out of the service for a minimum of two months until they could change his information.
In case you need access to any of the emails, you click through from the rollup, or you’ll find a backup folder to your email account (or a label in gmail) called Unroll.me so it becomes super simple to just view that folder or tab, “select all” and delete in one fell swoop.
It’s important to note that the service doesn’t actually unsubscribe you from any lists; it just keeps those messages out of your inbox. So it really is a temporary solution, although a good one. Whenever you have a few free hours, take the time to manually unsubscribe from those emails which will be better in the long run.
But you know, one New Year’s resolution at a time.