Unwanted emails are frustrating! When you have important work or personal emails to get to, spam or promotional emails in your inbox can be extremely distracting.
By law, all commercial emails must make it easy for subscribers to opt out of future communications. The CAN-SPAM Act regulates the sending of commercial emails in the United States, and it is designed to protect users like you from suffering from spam.
Other governmental bodies, such as the European Union, have their own laws regulating spam and requiring easy unsubscribe options in emails.
However, you may be surprised to learn that an unsubscribe link isn’t required under the CAN-SPAM Act. Instead, it simply requires senders to include a clear explanation of how users can opt out – that can include telling users to reply with an “Unsubscribe Me” email and honoring those requests promptly.
Furthermore, many spammers don’t honor the CAN-SPAM Act. Whether they’re located outside the United States and think the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply to them or simply don’t care about the law, you’ll notice that most emails that are outright spammy or malicious contain no unsubscribe links.
Sometimes, you might even want to block a friend from sending you emails. Since those emails are personal and not commercial emails, your friend doesn’t have to include an unsubscribe link in their emails.
In any case, there are times when you can’t find an unsubscribe link. You may also be receiving so many promotional emails that unsubscribing from each one by clicking a link would be too cumbersome.
Fortunately, solutions exist. Here are six ways to unsubscribe from emails with no unsubscribe link.
Before getting into how to unsubscribe from emails without an unsubscribe link, it’s worth checking if the email truly doesn’t have an unsubscribe link.
While unsubscribe links must be clearly visible, as required by law, not all senders are careful about that. Sometimes, the link might not be highlighted, and it might even be in a smaller or lighter font than the rest of the email.
For example, most of the email’s text might be in black, while the unsubscribe link might be in gray font, making it harder to see. At other times, the unsubscribe link is hidden in a large block of small print at the bottom of the email, so it’s easy to miss.
The link may also not be labeled “Unsubscribe.” Senders may include a text such as, “Click here if you’d like to change your email preferences,” with only the anchor text “here” hyperlinked.
In short: Many emails do have an unsubscribe link, but you might have to take a second look to find it.
Now, let’s get into how to unsubscribe from emails without an unsubscribe link.
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If there is no unsubscribe link, you could always mark the email as spam. I’m assuming most of you are using Gmail, so I’m going to focus primarily on Gmail in this article.
You can report any email as spam by clicking on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the email. A menu will pop up, as displayed in the screenshot above.
Click on “Report spam” to send the email to your spam folder. Gmail will typically send future emails from that sender to your spam folder as well; if enough people report the sender as spam, they may end up getting blacklisted and going into the spam folder by default.
Please note that you should only use this option if the sender is actually sending you spam – in other words, you didn’t opt in to their emails, or they didn’t provide you with a way to opt out.
The above screenshot is for illustration purposes only – that particular sender does provide a link at the bottom of their emails to allow subscribers to manage their email preferences. If there is an unsubscribe link, use that instead of the “Report spam” button.
Otherwise, you will continue to get the emails, except they will clog your spam folder instead of your primary folder.
If you suspect an email to be a phishing email, you can select “Report phishing” instead of “Report Spam.”
On mobile devices, you’ll have to click the three-dot menu at the top of your screen. There will be two of these menus in the Gmail app: one at the top of your screen and one opposite the sender’s information.
Click the one at the top to find the “Report spam” option, as I demonstrate in this screenshot:
Sometimes, Gmail will give you the option to automatically unsubscribe from a message when you report it as spam. That depends on factors such as whether the sender is known not to be a spammer or whether the sender is entirely unknown.
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Other than reporting a message as spam, you can also block the sender.
You can do that from the same three-dot menu at the top-right of an email, as shown in the screenshot above.
It might not be obvious how to block someone on the mobile Gmail app. Instead of clicking the three dots at the top of the screen, you’ll need to click the three dots across from the sender information, like this:
Unfortunately, “blocking” a sender on Gmail doesn’t block them altogether.
Instead, it will cause all future emails from them to be sent to the spam folder. In other words, Gmail doesn’t provide a way to block emails like you can block someone on WhatsApp.
You may be wondering whether there is a difference between reporting an email as spam and blocking the sender.
When you report an email as spam, Google will receive a copy of the email, along with your spam report. Google may then analyze the message for indicators of spam, and it may use that analysis to determine whether similar messages are spam emails and send them to spam folders automatically.
Google may also send emails from that sender to the spam folder, even when they message other people.
On the other hand, when you block a sender, that only affects you – not anyone else. Google knows that you might want to block an acquaintance for personal reasons, and blocking someone doesn’t necessarily mean they are a spammer.
Furthermore, when you mark a message as spam, Google may send all future emails you get from that sender into your spam folder, but it’s not a guarantee. When you block someone, all emails they send will go to your spam folder – guaranteed – until you unblock them.
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Remember what I said about the FTC not requiring an actual unsubscribe link in every email? Commercial emails only need to contain clear instructions on how to opt out.
Most businesses nowadays use email service providers like Aweber or Mailchimp. Those email service providers make it easy to set up automated email flows – and they also make it easy to add an unsubscribe link to commercial and transactional emails.
At the same time, some businesses may be stuck in the past, using antiquated email systems. As such, they may require you to manually send an unsubscribe request, after which they are required by law to remove you from their mailing lists ASAP.
Since it’s not an automated process, it could take some time for a business to manually remove you from its mailing list. According to the FTC, businesses have 10 business days to honor opt-out requests – that’s two weeks, not including weekends.
Most honorable businesses will take care of your request sooner than that, however, but it can still take a business day or two.
So, how do you send a manual unsubscribe request? It’s simple – just send an email reply with a subject line such as “Unsubscribe Me” or “Remove Me.”
Don’t be rude in your email – that’s unnecessary. You don’t have to write anything at all in the email body, but if you do, keep it short and explain that you want to opt out of future emails.
If the sending address is a “no-reply” address, the sender is required by law to provide another active email address, so users can send unsubscribe requests.
There’s a big caveat here, however. You should only send a manual unsubscribe request to legitimate companies that may have forgotten to put an unsubscribe link in an email for whatever reason.
However, you should never send a manual reply to a scam email! Spammers – the kind that send phishing emails, emails claiming you won the lottery, emails claiming to have a $1 million wire transfer for you, etc. – are on the lookout for active email addresses.
As soon as you reply to one of those spam emails, they will know that your email address is active (as opposed to being a dead and unused email account that you no longer use). Clicking on an attachment has the same effect.
A cool thing about Gmail is that it will automatically send an unsubscribe request to sender addresses for you. This option is available on both desktop and mobile.
On desktop devices, you’ll see the unsubscribe link at the top of your email, right next to the sender’s email address. An example is shown in my screenshot above.
On mobile devices, you can find this unsubscribe option by clicking on the three-dot menu at the top of the screen.
One thing I noticed was that Gmail’s unsubscribe option sometimes showed up only on desktop and not on mobile – even for the same email. I’m not sure what the reason for that is, as it seemed random, and it may have been a glitch.
If it doesn’t show up on mobile, you can always send the email to spam or block the sender.
Remember, Gmail will be sending a manual unsubscribe request instead of you doing so manually; the sender still has to remove you from the list themselves.
That’s why Gmail won’t include this option when you get an email from an untrusted sender – Google doesn’t want you to notify the spammer that your address is active, as I explained above.
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Blocking and reporting an email as spam might help keep your inbox clean, but it will clog up your spam folder. Sometimes, legitimate emails can end up in spam by accident, so you may have a vested interest in keeping your spam folder as clean as possible.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative solution – you can have spam emails trashed immediately. Those emails will end up in your trash folder, where they will stay for 30 days before being deleted permanently, so they won’t clog your spam folder.
Here’s how to do that.
First, go to your settings in Gmail by clicking on the gear icon at the top of the screen. Then, click on “See all settings,” as in this screenshot:
Then, click on the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab. There, you’ll see all the senders you have already blocked.
Click on “Create a new filter.” You have a few options:
- Filter for a specific email address
- Filter for a specific subject line (this is useful if you get the same spam email again and again)
- Filter for emails that contain certain words (such as “Western Union transfer” or other keywords often found in spam emails)
Once you’ve entered one of the above options, click on “Create filter.” You’ll be given a set of actions that Gmail can automatically take.
Tick the box next to “Delete it,” and then click on “Create Filter.”
Congratulations! Gmail will automatically delete emails that match your filter, such as those coming from the email address or containing the spam words you specified.
Those emails will stay in your trash folder for 30 days before disappearing forever.
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Finally, there are various third-party cleanup tools that will help you unsubscribe from many promotional emails at once. These tools are useful if you signed up for so many mailing lists that unsubscribing from each one individually will take too long.
There are several awesome tools out there. Here are four that I highly recommend.
Clean.email is one of the most useful tools you’ll ever use.
You can set up filters and automated rules for certain kinds of emails (like emails from social sites). For example, you can have certain kinds of emails sent to a “Read Later” folder, where they stay for a week until they are deleted.
Most importantly, it has an Unsubscriber tool, which allows you to send automated unsubscribe requests to senders quickly and easily. If a sender doesn’t honor the request, Clean.email will block them, so their emails don’t enter your inbox anymore.
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Unroll.me is perfect for those with clogged inboxes. It will show you all your email subscriptions, and you just need to click on the X button near any one of them to unsubscribe.
Not only that, but if you want to keep several subscriptions, you don’t have to suffer from a clogged inbox anymore. Unroll.me will “roll” all of your subscription emails into one daily email, so your inbox is free for your important emails.
Leave Me Alone is very similar to Unroll.me. Start by seeing a list of your newsletter subscriptions and unsubscribing from the ones you don’t like with a single click.
Then, you’ll be able to roll all your remaining subscriptions into a single email, so they don’t distract you from the important stuff.
Finally, you can automatically block senders who are not on your trusted list so that new spammers and marketers can’t reach your inbox.
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Cleanfox is a superb tool that allows you to send unwanted newsletters straight to the trash can. It’s useful if you have marketers who keep on sending you newsletters without unsubscribe links or who don’t honor your unsubscribe requests.
It’s also a helpful tool if you have thousands of emails in your inbox already, and you want to delete the promotional ones without automatically deleting all emails you received.
Start by connecting your email address, using the website or mobile app. Cleanfox will look for your newsletter subscriptions and give you a few options.
You can keep your newsletters from a specific sender, delete all newsletters a sender already sent you, and automatically delete all future emails they send you.
Cleanfox is free to use, but do be aware that they sell anonymized data for statistical purposes from the emails they scan. The data is anonymized, and your privacy won’t be affected; it’s done to keep the tool free.
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There are a few ways to unsubscribe from emails that don’t have an unsubscribe link. You can report them as spam, block the sender, use Gmail’s automated unsubscribe tool, or even set up a filter in Gmail to automatically delete them.
Alternatively, you can use an unsubscribe tool. Clean.email, Unroll.me, Leave Me Alone, and Cleanfox are highly recommended.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.