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Gmail: How to block emails, unsubscribe, and more

Blocking contacts and setting up filters can free you from Gmail clutter.

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Image: KnowTechie

Our email inboxes are at breaking point. Between spam, advertising lists, and other annoyances, anyone with a Gmail account gets a ton of daily emails. Thankfully, you can block emails on Gmail.

From unsolicited advertising to companies sending multiple emails a day, your inbox deserves a break. Thankfully, Google’s email service is full of tools to block, unsubscribe, and more.

We’ll also show you how to block spam, phishing attempts, unsubscribe from email lists, and how you can unblock anyone you accidentally blocked.

Why you should block people on Gmail

block icon over gmail inbox
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READ MORE: How to change Gmail’s spam settings and customize the filter

The longer you have a Gmail email address, the more email you get. That’s even more true if you use your Google account to sign up for services, as it automatically defaults to using your Gmail for communication.

That might mean you get an overflowing inbox, especially if some companies sell their email lists to third parties. You might be tempted to mark everything as spam, but that’s not always the answer.

Marking emails as spam could hurt legitimate senders that other Gmail users rely on. Those could be banks sending you advertisements even if you don’t bank there, or retail outlets.

READ MORE: How to disable Gmail offline mode and clear the cache

Reporting those senders could train Google’s filters to block important emails from other users, like bank statements.

What happens when you block someone?

When you block an email address, it doesn’t stop them from sending you an email. Instead, that email gets filtered out before it hits your Inbox. Gmail’s filters send it to the Spam folder, or the Trash folder if you blocked their email via filters.

Google also keeps a record of every email address you have blocked, so you can unblock them in the future if you wish.

Oh, and in case you were worried – no, they won’t know you blocked them. Also, the block doesn’t carry over to any other Google services, like Hangouts or Meet.

How to block someone on Gmail

Don’t let your inbox become a cluttered, unmanageable mess. Google has a comprehensive set of options for managing who can email you, and it’s all a few clicks away from your inbox.

How to block an email address on Gmail’s desktop version:

  1. Open an email sent from the contact
  1. Click on the three dot icon next to the reply button
gmail menu showing the block contact option
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Select Block [“Contact name”] from the menu that pops up (shown above)
  1. Click the Block button in the window that pops up to confirm the block.
block confirmation popup in gmail
Image: KnowTechie

All messages sent from this person will now go into your Spam folder.

You can also set up a filtering rule

While blocking individual emails is fine for most cases, sometimes you need to block a domain. That’s the part after the @ in the email address.

Gmail lets you set up filters so any emails that match that domain will get deleted as soon as they hit your inbox. Here’s how:

  1. Go to mail.google.com on your browser. This will also work on iPads, which also serve the desktop version of the site. You can’t do this from a mobile device, Gmail won’t show you the necessary settings.
  1. Click the gear icon at the top-right corner, then on See all settings
screenshot of gmail inbox showing the location of the settings icon
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Click on the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab
gmail settings showing the filters and blocked addresses tab
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Scroll down and click on Create a new filter
gmail screenshot showing the create filter option
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  1. A form will pop up with some blank spots to add your information. The only one you need is From, and add the domain you want to filter. In this case, we used @knowtechie.com
options for creating gmail filter
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  1. Click on Create filter
  1. Another list will appear. You want to check the box next to Delete it, and then click Create filter. If you want to remove all existing emails, also check the box next to Also apply filter to X matching conversations
gmail filter options for message actions
Image: KnowTechie

Once this filter is in effect, all emails from that domain will end up in your Trash folder. They’ll stay there for 30 days before Gmail automatically deletes them. That gives you enough time to double-check so you don’t lose any potentially important emails.

You can unblock the domain by going back to the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab, then deleting the filtering rule from the list.

How to block an email address from the Gmail mobile app:

  1. Open up the Gmail app
ios gmail icon on iphone screen
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  1. Tap on the email you want to block
  1. Then, tap the horizontal three dot icon that’s next to the Reply button
ios gmail app showing menu button to get to block options
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap Block [Sender]
ios gmail app showing block sender option
Image: KnowTechie

How to report spam or phishing on Gmail

Sometimes blocking an email address isn’t enough. Persistent spammers or phishing attempts also deserve to be reported to Gmail, so they can improve their detection routines.

That will result in everybody getting fewer scams and other unwanted emails in their inboxes, which is a win for everyone. But remember, you should only do this on legitimate spam.

Report spam and phishing on desktop:

  1. Go to your inbox
  1. Click on the email you want to report
  1. Click on the three dot icon at the top right of the email
report gmail spam phishing
Image: KnowTechie
  1. From the menu that appears, click on Report spam or Report phishing. Spam is repeated junk emails, while phishing could be any of a number of scams, all aimed at stealing money or your account credentials.

Again, if you’re getting persistent advertising emails from a business or bank; don’t use the Spam report. It’s better to use the normal block option, as otherwise Google could start filtering banking emails for actual customers if enough people report them.

Report spam and phishing through the mobile app:

  1. Open the Gmail app
ios gmail icon on iphone screen
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on either the email to open it or the circular profile icon of the sender
  1. Tap on the horizontal three dot icon at the very top right
ios gmail app showing where to get to spam reporting
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap Report spam
ios gmail app showing report spam option
Image: KnowTechie

Now you know how to report persistent spammers to Google. The more people that report spam, the better Google’s automatic spam detection gets, and the less junk everyone gets in their inboxes.

report not spam
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If you see something in your Spam folder that shouldn’t be there, open the email and click the Not spam button at the top. This email was obviously spam so I didn’t click.

How to unblock a Gmail contact

You might find that you accidentally blocked an email address that you really shouldn’t have. But don’t fear.

Whether it’s a family member or a necessary online service, we’ll show you how to find them and unblock their email address in Gmail.

Unblock a Gmail contact through desktop:

  1. Go to mail.google.com on your browser. This will also work on iPads, which also serve the desktop version of the site. You can’t do this from a mobile device, Gmail won’t show you the necessary settings.
  1. Click the gear icon at the top-right corner, then on See all settings
screenshot of gmail inbox showing the location of the settings icon
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Select the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab
gmail settings showing the filters and blocked addresses tab
Image: KnowTechie
  1. If you have any blocked addresses, they will show in a list. Scroll down to find the email you want to unblock, then click the Unblock button
gmail blocked addresses list
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Click Unblock in the window that pops up to confirm the unblock. All messages sent from this person will now go into your Inbox.
gmail unblock email address confirmation prompt
Image: KnowTechie

Unblock a Gmail contact through the mobile app:

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to unblock senders through the mobile app. If you still have an email from them in your inbox or spam folder, you can open that and follow the instructions above for blocking a sender in mobile Gmail to get to an Unblock [sender] option.

If you don’t have an email from them in the inbox, you’ll have to go to the desktop version of Gmail.

You can also unblock everyone in one click on Gmail

This is the easiest way to unblock senders in Gmail, but it comes with a big caveat. You’ll be unblocking literally every spammer, scammer, and undesirable that you ever blocked. Your inbox will get full, so be prepared to unsubscribe or reblock some of them.

On desktop:

  1. Head to your Google Account
  1. Click on Home, then on Protect your account
google account home page showing the security checkup button
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  1. Click on Gmail settings
google account security check gmail options
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Click on Unblock all
gmail unblock all button
Image: KnowTechie

Now all of the accounts you blocked can email you again. Yes, that means the persistent spammers will be once again able to send you an email. At least you know how to block them again if you need to.

On mobile:

  1. Open the Gmail app
ios gmail icon on iphone screen
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on your profile picture, then on Manage my Google account
gmail app showing the manage my google account option
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  1. Then, tap on Protect your account under the “You have security recommendations” section
gmail app showing security recommendations
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  1. Tap on Gmail settings
gmail app showing gmail security settings
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on Unblock all
gmail app showing unblock all option
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That’s it, now you’ve unblocked every single sender you ever blocked in Gmail.

How to unsubscribe from email lists on Gmail

Some email senders send lots of emails, and you might not want that. Gmail makes it quick to unsubscribe from many sites that use advertising, so your inbox can breathe again.

  1. Open mail.google.com on your desktop browser
  1. Click on any email from the sender you want to unsubscribe from
  1. Then, click on the Unsubscribe link next to the sender’s email address
unsubscribe button in gmail
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Click Unsubscribe on the popup

Google will send an unsubscribe request to that emailer on your behalf, so you shouldn’t see any more emails from them.

If you can’t see the Unsubscribe or Change preferences option next to the email address; Google says you should either block the sender or mark the email as Spam.

Blocking someone on Gmail can give you peace of mind

The block feature in Gmail can give you a new lease on life, especially with those people who just want to give you a piece of their mind. Block anyone and anything that irritates you, our inboxes are hectic enough without the added stress.

But remember, if you are using the “Mark as spam” feature, it’s best to save that for actual spam, and not use it for annoyances.

Now you know how to block individual emails, create filters, unsubscribe from email lists, and unblock anyone you might have accidentally blocked. Enjoy your uncluttered Gmail inbox.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek. Hardware guy here at KnowTechie, if it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't) I probably have one around here somewhere. My hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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