How to stop spam emails in Outlook, Gmail and more

Spam and other unwanted emails are a nuisance, and it seems like keeping them out of your inbox is a futile struggle. But while you can’t prevent every spam from reaching your inbox, you can significantly reduce the number of messages that appear.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to use spam filtering, blocking, and reporting features to help stop spam from reaching your inbox. We’ll also cover some more tips on how to reduce unwanted messages overall.

How to stop spam in Gmail

If you use Gmail, the most popular email client, you will eventually start receiving spam. Here are our two favorite ways to deal with it.

Block spam in Gmail

screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

The easiest way to deal with a single spam email is to block it. To do this, open the unwanted email and select: the Again icon (three vertical dots) > Block (sender name).

This will handle one sender, but you may find similar emails appearing repeatedly. Try another approach below if it’s a problem.

Report spam in Gmail

For more consistent problems, try Gmail’s Report Spam feature. Reporting spam in an email client like Gmail helps the service better identify spam emails in the future and move offending emails into the Spam folder and out of your inbox.

Here’s how to use the Report Spam feature in Gmail:

Step 1: Open your desktop web browser and open Gmail. Log in to your account if you haven’t already.

Step 2: Once you’re logged in, select the emails you want to report as spam by checking their respective boxes.

Select Report Spam in Gmail.
screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Step 3: Once you check this box, a series of icons will appear at the top of your inbox. From these icons, select Report spam icon. It looks like a stop sign with an exclamation mark in the middle.

There he is. The message will automatically be moved to your Spam folder.

Filter Gmail spam

While Gmail has its own spam filter that is used to keep your inbox free of spam messages, there’s no reason you can’t set up your own filter to filter out even more unwanted messages.

The great thing about Gmail is that you can filter certain types of emails (messages with certain words or from certain senders) and you can decide what the filter does (archive them or even delete them immediately).

Here’s how to use filters in Gmail to stop spam from reaching your inbox:

Step 1: Open your desktop web browser and open Gmail. Log in to your account if necessary.

Step 2: Once logged in, navigate to the search box at the top of your screen and select it Show search options icon. (It looks like a filter icon.)

Click this button to open 'Show search options' in Gmail.
Image used with permission of the copyright holder

Step 3: In the form that appears, fill in the search criteria that unwanted messages must meet before being filtered. Once you have finished filling out the form, select it Create a filter.

Create filters in Gmail.
screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Step 4: On the next screen, select all the actions you want the filter to take once messages matching your criteria are detected. If you don’t want to see this unwanted email again, select it Wipe choice.

Step 5: Choose Create a filter to complete the process

Alternative method: Gmail also lets you use unwanted emails to set up filters that filter out other emails like them. To do this, open the email you want to filter and select it Again icon, as we did to block emails previously. From the menu that appears, select Filter messages like this. You will then be taken to the same filter form as we mentioned in the previous step, but this time the form will already be filled in with at least one search criteria. Finally, finish creating the filter as usual.

How to stop spam in Outlook

Let’s be honest, if you don’t use Gmail, chances are you use Outlook. You can do many of the same things in Outlook to prevent spam as you can in Gmail. However, the steps look a little different. Here’s how to get started.

Block spammers in Outlook

Select 'block sender' to block spam senders in Outlook.
screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Blocking a sender in Outlook on the web means that the emails you select will be deleted and you won’t receive any future emails from that sender.

To do this, go to your Outlook on the web inbox and select the check box next to emails from the sender you want to block. Then select More choices icon (three dots symbol) from the toolbar above your inbox. Then select Block > Block sender > OKAY.

Report spam in Outlook

Outlook on the web also lets you report emails as spam. Doing so will send the unwanted message to your Junk Email folder and immediately remove it from your main inbox. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Open your desktop web browser and navigate to Outlook on the web. Log in to your account.

Step 2: Once logged in, select the check box next to the message you want to report as spam.

Select Junk Report in Outlook on the web.
screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Step 3: In the toolbar above your inbox, there should be a red icon that resembles a shield with an exclamation point in the middle. Choose Down arrow to the right of that icon. Then select Report trash.

Junk email filter in Outlook

You can also use filters in Outlook on the web to stop spam, but in Outlook, filters are known as “rules.”

In the following steps, we’ll show you how to set up rules that can help filter spam in Outlook on the web:

Step 1: Navigate to Outlook on the web via your desktop web browser. Log in to your account if necessary.

Step 2: Once you’re logged in, select it More choices icon then select Rule > Manage rules.

Select the Manage Rules in Outlook on the web option.
screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Step 3: Choose Add new rules. Then fill out the form on the next screen. In this form, you’ll name the rule, add a condition (message search criteria must match), and choose the action the rule will take once a message that meets the condition is detected (such as deleting the message).

This is what creating a rule looks like in Outlook on the web.  Here, we are creating a test rule.
screenshot/Anita George / Digital Trends

Step 4: Once you have filled out the form, select Keep.

Another way to stop spam emails

If blocking and reporting spam still isn’t enough to tame your inbox, you still have other ways to try to stop spam or other unwanted emails.

Unsubscribe from promotional emails

If unwanted promotional emails are constantly clogging your inbox, the solution to reducing them is quite easy. Unsubscribe from them. Once you receive one of these emails from a store you shop at or a service you use, open the email and scroll down to the bottom of the message. There should be a link to unsubscribe from the company’s mailing list.

And if you have trouble finding the link or don’t want to scroll through it, Gmail has its own handy link to unsubscribe from these kinds of emails. To use it: Open one of the emails, and select the blue one Unsubscribe button at the top of the email and to the right of the sender’s email address.

Make sure to keep your email address private

You may have reasons to post some of your email addresses on websites or social media platforms. Job and business emails are usually posted on company websites for specific types of jobs, or as part of promoting a small business.

But when it comes to your primary personal email address, it’s important to keep it private and be more careful about where you post it and who you share it with. Posting your email address to a website will only attract spammers, so try to avoid it if you can.

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