Thursday, September 02, 2010

Return Email Unread To A Single User

This week I had a person very close to me start receiving abusive emails from a family member. This friend asked me if there was a way to block email from that particular user without changing the email address completely. Although I first told the person, "no, it's not possible." After a little work inside the powerful Gmail program by Google I was able to relieve this person with the information that blocking mail from a single user is possible. I wanted to detail the process below, to allow others to use this amazing feature without giving up their current email address, even if they are not currently Gmail users.

If your email address is already hosted by Gmail skip to step 4.

Step 1 - Signup for a Gmail account. If you have a smart phone and your current email is with your ISP (@comcast, @att.net, @sbcglobal.net) this process will add a second benefit to you by enabling IMAP which is better understood as email synching.

Step 2 - In Settings dashboard of your new Gmail account go to the accounts tab go to the row titled 'Check Mail Using Pop3' and click on "Add a mail account you own" button to enter the account information for your current email address.
Step 3 - While still remaining in the accounts tab of the Settings dashboard find the 'Send Mail As' row and click the 'Send Mail From Another Address' button to complete the steps contained there to enable you to continue sending mail using your existing email address.
Step 4 - Change the settings in your email client (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc) and on your phone to check Gmail rather than checking your ISP directly.


Now we are ready to setup the mail return inside Gmail.

Step 5 - Under the Labs tab in the Settings menu enable "Canned Responses." After hitting the radio button to 'enable' make sure you navigate to the bottom of the page and save changes.


Step 6 - Using the 'Compose Mail' button open a new mail pane. Do not worry about a To: or a Subject: since you are just using the type to create the text of your response to the offending email sender. I used "Your message has been returned unopened. This user is not accepting messages from you at this time." as the automated response, but you can type any text you would like here.
Step 7 - Use the 'Canned Responses' button that has now appeared under your subject box to 'Save New Canned Response.' Give this response a name in the dialog box that opens and choose save. Exit 'Compose' window by using the 'Discard' button.

Step 8 - Near the search box at the top of the page use the link to 'Create a Filter.' This opens the 'Filters' tab in the Settings dashboard. Select 'Create a Filter.' In the From: box add the offending email address. If the offending party has multiple email accounts enter each in the From: box separated by an OR in caps. Proceed to next step by clicking the 'Next Step' button.

Step 9 - In this final step you will tell the Gmail filter how to respond when an email arrives from the chosen From address(es). You should check the box to 'Delete It' and the box to 'Send Canned Response' selecting the response created in Step 8. Select Create Filter and you are finished.


I hope that this tutorial helps others in the way I was able to help protect my friend.

10 comments:

Dustin said...

Good to know. I appreciate the heads-up. :-)

Keith said...

I read this on Lifehacker and then followed the link over to your blog. This post is really good! I alos like some of your older posts. Keep the insight coming, I would like to see more of your thoughts.

Kathie said...

Nice tutorial!

My question, since we can't really test this out firsthand, is whether the emails get sent back when other addresses are included in to TO field. Here's an example:

Don't want email from FIEND X and set it up that way. Meanwhile, SALLYBOPEEP sends email to me and FIEND X, both in the TO field. Will SALLYBOPEEP get the canned response back? Will FIEND X?

Next scenario. FIEND X sends an email to me and to SALLYBOPEEP. FIEND X gets the canned response, but does SALLYBOPEEP get it and the rejected email back? If SALLYBOPEEP replies, en masse, to the email from FIEND X, does that mean that I'll get FIEND X's original email along with SALLYBOPEEP's response?

Thanks!

Kevin J Bowman said...

Dustin & Keith - Thank you both!

Kathie - Gmail is not searching on the TO it is only searching on the from, so the other recipients would not matter. In scenario 1 only the sender would get the reply.

In scenario 2 however, the original message WOULD get through attached inline underneath the user who had "respond to all" With some work you could definitely set up your filters to get rid of everything.

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Nicole C. said...

Thanks, this was a HUGE help!

jasmintea said...

QQuestion: Should the person sending the offending email receive a reply back, stating that their email has been blocked? In Step # 6. you stated we could type in a message, such as: "Your message has been returned unopened, this user is not accepting messages from you at this time”.
Anyhow… I used your method twice; once to the offending email address & then, as a test, I sent another to myself at an old email account I rarely use. Then I went to my old email & sent an email to myself, to see if it would go through. When I checked back, the email I sent to myself never showed up, so it appears your method worked as far as deleting the message, but when I went back to the old email, to see if there was a message, (which would say I’d been blocked), there was nothing. So it would appear that the offending emailer may not know they’ve been blocked. Should they receive a reply back stating that their email has been blocked?

jasmintea said...

Question: Should the person sending the offending email receive a reply back, stating that their email has been blocked? In Step # 6. you stated we could type in a message, such as: "Your message has been returned unopened, this user is not accepting messages from you at this time”.
Anyhow… I used your method twice; once to the offending email address & then, as a test, I sent another to myself at an old email account I rarely use. Then I went to my old email & sent an email to myself, to see if it would go through. When I checked back, the email I sent to myself never showed up, so it appears your method worked as far as deleting the message, but when I went back to the old email, to see if there was a message, (which would say I’d been blocked), there was nothing. So it would appear that the offending emailer may not know they’ve been blocked. Should they receive a reply back stating that their email has been blocked?

Anonymous said...

jasmintea, I am wondering the same thing. I also just set this up via a test account, I never received the canned response. I think this is pretty bunk. Can't google GMAIL create a simple BLOCK feature. WTF

ache said...

Last time I checked, you can't use both canned responses and delete it. Once the delete it is on the filter, canned responses don't work.