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Start 2023 right: How to give your inbox a fresh makeover

We’re at the threshold of the new year, and it’s not too early to get a head start on getting your home in order. We’re not talking about scrubbing your floors and dusting the blinds. Tap or click here for seven tools to get your digital life in shape.

Is your inbox full of unread messages and spam? Do you feel guilty every time you unlock your phone and see triple or even quadruple digits over your email icon? You’ll get to it later, right? Probably not.

The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll ever get to it. Let’s get started now with five tips to declutter your inbox.

1. Stop the spam

Your email service has built-in spam protection, but unwanted messages will always slip through. You should always report spam — not only will this stop messages from that sender, but it will also help protect others.

Don’t even open the message if you know it’s spam — just select it and report it.

Report spam on Gmail

  • Open Gmail and select the messages you want to remove.
  • Click the Spam button. It looks like a stop sign with an exclamation point.

Report spam on Outlook

  • Open Outlook and select the messages you want to mark as junk.
  • At the top of the screen, select Junk > Junk (or Spam Spam) to move the message to your Junk or Spam folder.

Report spam on Yahoo Mail

  • Open Yahoo Mail and select the messages you want to remove.
  • Select Spam in the toolbar above your inbox to move the message to the Spam folder.

RELATED: Amazon sellers are about to flood your inbox — Take this step now

2. Filters are your friend

You can set up filters to stop spam messages from any source or subject.

Set up filters on Gmail

  • Open Gmail and click the Show search options icon inside the search bar.
  • Enter an address, subject or word in the blank fields and select Create filter at the bottom of the search window.
  • Choose what you’d like the filter to do.
  • Click Create filter.

Set up filters on Outlook

  • Right-click a message in your inbox or another email folder and select Rules.
  • Select one of the options. Outlook automatically suggests creating a rule based on the sender and the recipients. To view more options, select Create Rule.
  • Specify the conditions under which the rule will apply and choose how you want Outlook to manage email messages from that sender.
  • In the Do the following section, if you want the rule to move a message to a folder, check the Move item to folder box, select the folder from the Select Folder dialog that pops up, and click OK.
  • Click OK to save your rule.

Set up filters on Yahoo Mail

  • Open Yahoo Mail and select the Settings gear icon.
  • Select More Settings (three dots) and choose Filters.
  • Click Add new filters.
  • Enter the filter name, set the filter rules and choose or create a folder for the emails.
  • Click Save at the bottom.

3. Hit the mute button

Group messages can be fun, but they can get out of hand. You can mute individual threads to keep them quiet.

Mute email threads on Gmail

  • Open Gmail and select the thread you want to mute.
  • Click the three-dot menu near the top of the page and select Mute.

Mute messages on Outlook

  • Open Outlook and select the thread you want to mute.
  • Go to the Message tab and choose Ignore Conversation under the Delete group. 
  • Select Ignore Conversation.

Mute messages on Yahoo Mail

  • There’s no mute option for Yahoo Mail, but you can use our filter instructions above to keep those conversations out of sight.

4. Use labels and folders

Think of your inbox as a filing cabinet. If you have everything stuffed in one drawer, you’ll never find what you need. Use labels and folders to keep things organized.

Create labels on Gmail

  • Open Gmail and select More from the left column.
  • Click Create new label and name it.
  • Click Create.

Tap or click here for more Gmail filter tips.

Create folders on Outlook

  • Open Outlook and right-click Inbox.
  • Select New Folder and give it a name, then hit Enter.

Create folders on Yahoo Mail

  • Open Yahoo Mail and tap the Inbox icon.
  • Under Folders (at the bottom of the folders list), tap Create a new folder.
  • Enter the folder name and tap tap OK.

5. Create a burner email

Whenever you give out your email or use it to log in to an account, you expose yourself to spam, malware and junk mail. This is where burner email addresses come in.

Burners are disposable and can be used in place of your primary address. Here are some ways to get one.

Temp Mail

Temp Mail provides a temporary, anonymous and disposable email address. You don’t need to register for the free version. Note that the service doesn’t automatically delete your temporary email address (that’s up to you), and you can’t send emails. Email messages are stored for about two hours before they’re automatically deleted.

Go to to get your free burner email through your browser. You can also get Temp Mail for iOS and Android.


10MinuteMail is another popular option you can also use to send emails. As the name suggests, the email and address are deleted in 10 minutes. If you receive an important message you don’t want to lose, you can forward it to another email address. There’s no need to provide personal information to get started, which is a nice bonus.

Go to to get your temporary email address.

Tap or click here for more burner email options.

Apple’s Hide My Email

If you’re an Apple iCloud+ subscriber, you get access to one of my favorite Apple features: Hide My Email. It creates unique, random email addresses that forward to your inbox. You can create as many addresses as you want and reply to messages.

  • To create a new email address, go to Settings and tap your Apple ID.
  • Go to iCloud > Hide My Email > Create New Address.
  • Follow the onscreen instructions, and you’ll get a new email address you can manage from iCloud settings.

You may also like: This is why you need an email address for your home

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