Unsubscriber and Unroll.me: Two programs that help you clean up inbox clutter

How many unprocessed messages are in your inbox right now? Is getting to inbox zero one of your daily goals? I’ve heard of some (brave) people who declare email bankruptcy (deleting everything) because of how time consuming it would be to process every message. That might seem a bit extreme, but it’s easy to understand why someone would want to start from scratch.

Sifting through emails can be tedious, especially if you don’t have strategies for processing all your messages. It doesn’t have to be difficult, though, and you can use technology to help to keep your inbox from getting out of control. Take, for instance, The E-mail Game. It turns your inbox into a game and you get points each time you read, delete, boomerang, or reply to a message. You’re also timed, so you need to make a decision about what to do with each message pretty quickly (usually a three to five minute window). I’ve played it many times (and still do) to keep personal inbox uncluttered.

Recently, I’ve found two free web-based programs that remove email clutter that help me to pay attention to priority messages: Unsubscriber by OtherInbox and Unroll.me. Both let you unsubscribe from unwanted emails (like newsletters you signed up for but you don’t want anymore) and redirect specific messages from your inbox so that you can keep the important ones more visible.

Have a look …

Unsubscriber by OtherInbox

After signing up, you’ll need to give Unsubscriber permission to access your email account. The app then checks your messages and looks for the ones it thinks you may want to unsubscribe from. You can also select the ones you really don’t want.

The app also adds an “Unsubscriber” folder to your inbox. To stop getting unwanted emails, drag and drop them to that folder. Unsubscriber then tells the sender of those unwanted messages that you want to stop receiving them. While that’s being worked on, all new mail from that sender is routed to the Unsubscriber folder. Note that this folder is not for spam (you already have a folder for that). This app can be used with Gmail, AOL, and Yahoo mail.


Unroll.me, though similiar to Unsubscriber, is slightly different. Once you sign up and give access to your e-mail account (Gmail and Google Apps users only), the app scans your mail for subscriptions and then adds them to a “rollup,” or daily digest that is sent to you once per day. New subscriptions are automatically added to your rollup. A nice feature is that Unroll.me organizes your email into specific categories (Unsubscriber has a similar feature with it’s sister app, Organizer).

You still have control over your messages and can edit your rollup by returning some emails to your inbox or permanently unsubscribing. As you can see, I have 149 messages that have been filtered to my rollup, some of which I will probably delete permanently. Not having to scroll through them in order to get to the messages I really need to see makes processing email a lot quicker. The key, of course, is to check your rollup once daily and maintain it so it doesn’t become a repository for junk messages.

Both apps are easy to use and help you to keep your eye on your most important messages. This means you’ll be able to respond to messages more quickly without having to weed through less time-sensitive emails. And, you just might get a bit closer to inbox zero.

11 Comments for “Unsubscriber and Unroll.me: Two programs that help you clean up inbox clutter”

  1. posted by Me on

    I think this is making things more difficult than they need to be… If you want to unsubscribe – just do it. You don’t need an app for it.

    Lay off the linking frenzy and keep the posts simple and uncluttered! 🙂

  2. posted by Anne on

    I think this is just creating a problem where there isn’t one. I hardly ever delete, label, sort or archive any of my email. As long as you (a) have plenty of storage, which comes as standard with most email accounts nowadays and (b) can usually find the old email you want using the search box with a few key words, then there’s no need to clear out your inbox or delete anything. I actually think you’d spend more time sorting your emails than it takes to find things using the search function. As for unsubscribing, I got tired of receiving lots of promotional mails so I just remembered to click the “unsubscribe” link as and when I received such an email, and after about a month or so I’d unsubscribed from pretty much all the unwanted mailing lists.

  3. posted by Andy Ebon on

    There is a third program one might add to these two fine choices: SaneBox


    It comes with its own set of pre-set mailboxes and trains, quickly. By just moving, for example, from your SANEtomorrow box to Inbox, you change the urgency for future emails from that email address. My favorite box is SaneBlackHole… for those email senders that make it difficult to unsubscribe, send them to the Black Hole, never to be seen again.

    You can also add your own custom boxes for your own needs. This tool has put a tremendous dent in my email world. Like many programs, it has a 30-day trial period.

    Worth a look,


  4. posted by Gina on

    As a general rule, I do not provide login credentials to third parties. Authenticating using established services is different though.

    On the subject of clean inboxes, I definitely practice it with the goal being about a dozen or less in any account. It’s not difficult to manage newsletter subscriptions. I personally have the attention span to read one or two. If they no longer hold my interest, unsubscribe (but only if I signed up, if spam of course never). Most of my reading is actually with a newsreader. Less demanding in that it’s not mixed up with actual business. I sometimes miss the old Bloglines that even provided e-mail addresses so you could read a mail-only newsletter there instead.

  5. posted by sherdie on

    Thanks for this – I’m going to give Unroll.me a try! I have a few subscriptions that I want to keep, because I really like getting the information in them – everything from work related research digests to what gigs are on around town – but I really don’t need to see them straight away. I’ve tried using a “subscriptions” tag and having them bypass the inbox, but then I forget they’re there. So a daily digest sounds perfect!

  6. posted by ChrisD on

    So it seems that non of these work with thunderbird?
    Also can’t you use the email program itself to sort e-mail from certain users into certain folders?
    I love the idea of a game to give yourself point for sorting things out (Jane McGonnigal has convinced me of the power of games to save the world, I really recommend her book and TED talks) on the other hand, as Gina says, I’m not giving my log in info to a third party.

  7. posted by Sonja on

    Thanks! My email is often overwhelming. I just tried The Email Game for the first time. It was fun and much faster than just looking at the overwhelming thousands of emails in my inbox. I also enrolled in unroll.me I am hoping that it helps with all those crazy things I signed up for. I already unsubscribed to some of them today – yay! My email scares my husband. I am hoping that these things help. Thanks for helping this horder along in her goals to live an uncluttered life.

  8. posted by Leslie on

    Unsubscriber looks pretty cool, but is not available for hotmail, so that’s no help to me. I think I’ll try out Sanebox that Andy posted above though.

    It’s nice that some of you find it so easy to keep up with your e-mail, but obviously there are many people who do not, or there wouldn’t be so many products and blog posts dedicated to the problem.

  9. posted by Anon on

    Do any of these work with Outlook? I don’t use gmail’s online interface.

  10. posted by Katie on

    Another suggestion I have found very helpful is EMAIL AMNESTY. Just set up a folder with that label (in caps helps, as it picks it out from all the other folders). Periodically – or every day, if you wanted! – just select all and dump your entire inbox in there. 99% of them you won’t need again anyway, so it does become a black hole, but for those odd ones that you do need, the ones that are stopping you from deleting them in the first place, just file it appropriately when it comes bcak (searched for by you, part of an ongoing conversation, etc). These means it cuts down the email filing time by quite a lot. Having said that, I’m going to play the email game as well 🙂

  11. posted by DSB on

    Do you know how to add email subscriptions to unrollme that unroll misses?

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