How can I keep junk mail out of my inbox without juggling two or more email accounts? [Ask ZDNet]

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For those who prefer a single email account, the answer is… aliases.

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Welcome to the latest episode ofAsk ZDNetwhere we know the answer to every question isn’t “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

This Week in the Mailbag: What’s the best way to filter out marketing email, newsletters, and other junk without using a separate email account?

Is there a way to keep junk mail out of my inbox without having to juggle two or more email accounts?

A few weeks ago, you recommended setting up a secondary email account as the best way to keep your inbox organized. However, I prefer to stick to one email account. Do you have options to recommend?

For those who missed the earlier Ask ZDNet column, here’s a quick refresher: “I’m drowning in spam! How can I make it stop?”

And yes, we understand the desire to keep things simple. For those who prefer a single email account, the answer is… aliases.

An alias is an alternate email address that is different from your “real” email address, but is still associated with your account and places messages sent to that alias in your regular inbox, without forwarding. By combining an alias with filters or rules, you can automatically move messages from your inbox to a folder of your choice as a way to manage less important email traffic.

Gmail has the most narrow approach to aliases, which are based on your primary address. To instantly create an alias, just put a plus sign at the end and paste whatever you want as a suffix. If your address is [email protected]for example you could use [email protected] as the address for subscribing to email newsletters. Next, create a filter that applies the Newsletter label and skips the Inbox. Marie Kondo would be proud.

One problem with Gmail’s plus sign aliases is that they give away your primary address. A spammer can just remove the plus sign and everything after that and start cluttering your inbox.

A free Outlook.com account has many more versatile alias options. You can create up to 10 aliases that don’t need to be connected to your primary address. (Go to https://account.live.com/names/manage and sign in with your Microsoft account to create a new alias or delete an existing one.) Messages sent to an alias arrive in the same inbox as the messages sent to the primary email address and can be moved out of the Inbox and into custom folders with Outlook rules. If you get too much spam with an alias, you can delete it (and free up a slot for a new one). Any email sent to a deleted alias is bounced back to the sender and is never forwarded.

If none of these options appeal, consider Easy Login, an open-source alternative that allows you to create aliases that can be associated with any mailbox. (If you have your own mail server, you can even host the software yourself.) The free Simple Login plan allows up to 15 aliases for one mailbox. Upgrading to the Premium plan for $4 per month (or $30 per year) unlocks unlimited aliases, unlimited mailboxes, unlimited custom domains, and PGP encryption.


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