How To Block Specific @holes From Emailing You

If there’s a special someone who makes your stomach churn when you see a new email from him pop up in your inbox, you’re probably looking for a way to stop him from harassing you.

Lifehacker comes through with a handy how-to guide that teaches you to route your accounts through Gmail, then pinpoint and block the offender.

The trick involves manipulating the filter settings. Here’s the money quote from the guide:

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.

The guide also gives you a detailed how-to on how to send a canned response to your No. 1 fan that informs him his message has been returned unopened.

How to Block Abusive or Unfriendly Email [Lifehacker]


Edit Your Comment

  1. gargunkle says:


    I can’t imagine this is somehow new advice to anyone. At least, not anyone with a reasonable provider.

  2. humphrmi says:

    The guide also gives you a detailed how-to on how to send a canned response to your No. 1 fan that informs him his message has been returned unopened.

    Please don’t. Spammers use forged email addresses to spam people. If the response goes through at all, it will just end up in some unsuspecting (and innocent) person’s mailbox, they will either be confused by your email, or know that you’re some loser who thinks that replying to spam accomplishes anything.

    • Angus99 says:

      Of course your advice makes good sense, but the article seems to be aimed more at blocking a stalker or particular individual hate mail sender than your generic spammer.

      • Mortimer Changworth says:

        It still wouldn’t do anything other than encourage the other party to make a spoof email to bypass your filter.

  3. PsiCop says:

    This is news to people? Using email filters to divert unwanted messages? Give me a break.

    Oh, and telling some folks you’re blocking them may not be a good idea. It might cause an abuser to escalate his campaign. While it may be emotionally satisfying to let someone know he’s blocked, it could make a bad situation worse.

    • theblackdog says:

      This is exactly what I was thinking about. I have an ex-boyfriend who drove me to filtering any E-mails to him to the trash. I don’t need him to know that he is on block, especially because all that it would do is stir up drama.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:


      For the same reason that you should never use those “unsubscribe” links at the bottom of a SPAM message.

      All you’re doing is informing the sender that yes, there is indeed an actual human being on the other end of that email address. And then they turn up your SPAM to eleven.

      NEVER respond, in any way, to SPAM. Block it through your filterand/or email client, and maybe report it to your email provider, and that’s it.

      • squirrel says:

        Back in the days where lots of spam came from China, I used to send emails to the administrators telling them to knock it off. This went on for weeks. They ignored me.

        Then I gave them something else: I started to copy and paste Free Tibet or Falun Gong text to the bottom of my complaint messages. I figured they could enjoy some unsolicited email themselves.

        24 hours later I got a response saying the issue was dealt with and not to email anymore. Spam stopped too.

    • parv says:

      I was hoping to read something deeper, requiring great search-fu, etc. to actually find out the origin of an unwanted email.


  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I would love to stop receiving some of the emails I get on a weekly basis, but we have mutual friends and they would probably find out. And I can’t flag them as spam because I can envision some kind of trap in which they might ask me about the email topic and I wouldn’t know, or they would corner me and ask whether I got that e mail from last Tuesday and I would say “yes” and then they’d go “HA! I never sent one!” and then we’d be forced to duel.

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      Mark it as spam and pretend your server is just really strict about emails and must have “somehow” flagged it. You can get at least a few weeks obnoxious e-mailer free. You can also repeat as necessary (or until it gets noticeably suspicious). I blame everything on technology. This also works for texts/calls (“Oh, I never got that call/text. I’ve been having issues with my phone/network lately. They keep promising they’ll fix it!”)

    • Angus99 says:

      Make sure they actually issue the challenge, because then you get to pick the weapon. Giant stuffed floofy bunnies have served me well over time.

    • veritybrown says:

      If someone is that big of a jerk, I think that the duel would be the preferable option. Of course, then you’d have to flee the country….

  5. Ben Popken says:

    I really can’t stand at holes.

  6. veritybrown says:

    This seems like an excessive amount of effort to go through when you can just set your email client’s own filters to send the offender straight to the “Deleted” file without you ever seeing it. I also agree with PsiCop that *telling* the offender that you’re blocking their mail is likely to result in escalation, whether it be using alternative email addresses, spoofing, phone calls, or a confrontation in person, with or without a deadly weapon. If they think that maybe they’re getting to you through the email, they’re less likely to try to bug you in other ways.

  7. Munchie says:

    My current irritation with gmail is when a spam email is properly formatted it just drops into your sent items email box. So when I’m looking for an email I sent there is a bunch of spam in there the filters missed.

  8. craptastico says:

    why does lifehacker always seem to find really complicated ways to do simple things? why not just right click the emailers address and hit “mark as spam”? isnt Lifehacker the same place that had that really convoluted system for paying your bills that involved setting up reminders on your outlook calandar and stuff?

  9. microcars says:

    I use Apple MAIL’s “bounce” feature. works pretty good.
    They get a very realistic Mailer Daemon bounce message.
    They will usually try one or two more times in case it was a “mistake” but after a few more “bounces” they give up.

  10. aloria says:

    Gmail should really implement an option to delete/blackhole mail before it reaches your account. When you’re dealing with harassment, it’s pretty frustrating going into your Trash folder for whatever reason and seeing all the abusive emails the filter has put there. I’ve been asking for this feature since 2004, but I guess they have their reasons for not offering it.

    As much as I love gmail’s features, it’s one of the reasons I don’t switch my domains over to GMail for domains. The ability to bounce or delete an email before I ever get a chance to see it is awesome.

    • webweazel says:

      It does that. With some digging on the internet, you might have found out you could through use of the filters. You set up a filter to simply DELETE. I just implemented this with Gmail SPAM, believe it or not. I have multiple filters set up under the usual suspect words, pills, penis, viagra, etc. grouped by topic, and it immediately deletes them, never even showing up in my spam box.

      Here’s a Gmail hint I dug up:
      Here’s one of my filters. This one is set up to search SUBJECT. You can set up multiple items a single filter looks for thusly:
      (hydrocodone) | (cializ) | (vicodin) | (codeine) | (pills) | (drugs) | (pharmacy) | (percoset) | (oxycodone)
      You need to enclose the word(s) in parentheses, SPACE, pipe, SPACE, and your next word(s) in parentheses.
      PIPE is the key left of backspace usually.
      CAVEAT: To use it with spam, the filter will not look through the spam folder for the testing of the filter. MOVE spam into your inbox to test, to make sure it works how you want it to.

      I have another filter for penis words, another for fake watches, another for OEM software, another for herbal viagra words. I add to the filters as I see more words I can filter them from. I’ve cut the spam going into my spam box by at least 80%. Good riddance.

      • aloria says:

        How do you get it to actually delete the email and not just move it into “Trash?”

        • webweazel says:

          AHA! I missed the point where you said looking in the TRASH. My brain had it stuck on looking in the SPAM folder. Sorry about that.
          I did a LOT of digging, and I have no solution to do it in Gmail directly. Even forwarding it to another address and deleting still sends it to the trash.
          Evidently, if you use a client, like Outlook or Thunderbird with forwards from Gmail, you can tweak the settings so that you just won’t receive them from Gmail at all. Meaning you won’t get/see the TRASH at all. That’s the best I can do. Wish I could have helped out more.
          I guess this is one instance where Hotmail is better, if only because I can block senders or domains and simply never see anything from them ever again. Anywhere.

  11. shepd says:

    Actually, there’s plenty of nutrition. I’m not saying it’s healthy, I’m saying there’s nutrition. Let’s take the ionic Big Mac:

    (Based on DVs) 35% iron, 25% calcium, 4% vitamin C, 10% vitamin A, 12% Fibre, plus 10 g protein.

    That’s not really all that bad for a portion of a meal. Of course, the fat etc. don’t make it a great choice. But nutritionally, it isn’t void.

  12. pot_roast says:

    Naturally, it’s only a “him” that sends harassing emails, of course. *eyeroll*

    Email filters, folks… been around since the very beginning. Long love procmail.

  13. james says:

    Search For Bounce Bully, download, install.
    Free program, works with Outlook, etc
    Send good bounce messages, triggers removal from lists

  14. Cantras says:

    I’ve been getting these emails from some guy who seems to think I’m important, writing these zany letter-to-the-editor type things (Honestly, the sort of LTEs that we’d tape up on the wall next to the one from “Voltaire, the unicorn of truth”). And he must know he’s not welcome, because he keeps changing his email address. The last one was something like name2@nameemail2nameof2. so he’s varying them by 1-2 characters, counting them out to keep sending us this inane babble about politics today. I keep flagging him as spam.

  15. tanyaandkarl says:

    Just block them.

    A canned response to a blocked harasser is very tempting, because, in your mind, you have had the last word. Don’t do it; you’re just feeding the troll.

    If it escalates to RL incidents, then you will need to take appropriate measures there, too (report them to HR, file complaint with the fuzz, call their parole officer, get a lawyer, etc.).

  16. TheGreySpectre says:

    right click email click “add sender to blocked list” I thought this was common knowledge as of 1999.

  17. Not Given says:

    Mailwasher can bounce selected emails.

    Marking some people as spam on filters that you don’t want them to know you blocked them on purpose? If they ask you about an inane message they sent you, you never saw it, must have triggered your spam filter. There are several hundred coming every day so you never bother the folder.

    Before my ISP turned all our mail handling over to gmail, they regularly bounced receipts from credit card companies while letting through phishers claiming to be the same bank. Half my legitimate mail that did get through was marked ***SPAM*** in the subject line, including the email I got from the IRS with my copy of my efiled tax return.

  18. Erykah says:

    If you use iMail on a Mac, you can simply bounce the message and the person thinks you blocked them or changed your email.