Regain Control of Your Inbox with SaneBox

Originally published at: Regain Control of Your Inbox with SaneBox - TidBITS

Drowning in unimportant email, despite your best efforts at filtering? The SaneBox service is a power tool that can help clean up even the messiest of inboxes.

Largely agree with your assessment. I don’t know that I’ll continue once my bi-yearly Lunch subscription is up. Although convenient, and in that respect a wonder drug of epic proportions, in truth the single most useful feature I’ve used is the “SaneNews” feature, which with the use of unique email addresses is not that much work to replicate in rules, especially server-side rules that avoid the push notifications which are otherwise unavoidable when mail is delivered too quickly for Sanebox to catch it. But I totally understand the powerful attraction the service has for many, and if it’s your jam, go for it!

one thing I do not understand from your post

instead of blocking these emails using SaneBox, why don’t you unsubscribed to their newsletters?

Because why should I waste time unsubscribing from things I didn’t want in the first place?

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I agree the most useful part of the SaneBox is the SaneBlackHole, but I can achieve that by having Mail hold my trash for a while. I’ve found the most useful temporary hold time is a month; a week is just too short a time when I have to check for something I normally would discard.

I liked your review; it was a nice analysis of an interesting product, but I don’t like their complex fee schedule and I’m not convinced it would do what I want.

Yeah, but then you have to keep deleting the unwanted email. With this, I move something into the black hole and everything else from that sender goes in there.

I don’t want everything else from the sender to go into the BlackHole. If I did, I would unsubscribe, which I find for most mailers with unsubscribe links in their mail. Also, I only get around 250 emails a day, and it sounds like you have much more.

Because the newsletters have your email and and maybe other information about you that they can sell. It’s better to divert any upcoming unwanted traffic while you still have a chance.

this is why I never use my personal email to sign up, including this forum. I use my Fastmail masked email that I can block or delete or automatically go to spam. I do not have to pay extra to get Sanebox to do this for me

Well, you could do what I do: when I create an account, I uncheck everything I don’t want. Of course there are some where I either forgot to do so or didn’t see them, but it just takes me a few seconds to go into that account’s settings and do it; most of the time I can do it via a link in the unwanted email. Remember an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

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I’m glad for everyone above who has found other ways to control their email inbox. I suspect this solution is not for you, and I’m not sure it is for me (I have 22,000+ unread emails in my Inbox…from the past year, because earlier years are archived).

For those who suggest clicking an “Unsubscribe” link in a newsletter, that’s great when it works, and for me it works most of the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, that link is a honeypot that draws a flood of emails to what the sender now knows is a live address. I’ve had it happen twice in the past decade, and now I’m very cautious. Same reason I don’t reply STOP to political texts.

But @jcenters , it sounds like using this tool would mean that ALL your devices receiving email from the same account would be attended to. I have two active Macs, an iPhone, and an iPad all retrieving email, and I read it on the most convenient device. IMAP is supposed to take care of this, but my work email account on Outlook recently ran into the distressing bug that only allows IMAP access to one device. (Good job, Microsoft!)

And my question is, can you use the subscription on more than one of your email accounts? Or is that fee schedule per account?

Thanks for the review, and the honest analysis of why some software purchases are hard to complete.

I access my mail from whatever device I’m near, using browser or Fastmail app.
Where does SaneBox run?
Does it become my new email interface, so I have to run it to access my email, or is it like a robot accessing my IMAP account from one machine to organize emails that I read from any mail client/machine?

I’d like to clean my 550k emails from my inbox with a tool that lets me organize by sender and date, and delete all matching ones. Deep Clean might do that, for free??

Another way to control mailing lists is by setting Apple Mail or other email client not to load remote content from emails. Many mailing lists use web bugs to see if subscribers are “opening” their email, and not loading “remote content” blocks the web bugs, so they can’t tell if you have been reading your mail. I find that I have to “open remote content” from mailing lists that actively monitor who’s “opening” their mail, including some that should know better, like “TechRepublic”.

I suspect most TidBits readers know and understand this, but a surprising number of people who run mailing lists don’t.

That depends on the package you sign up for. “Lunch”, for instance, lets you use the features on two accounts (i.e. you tell Sanebox how to log in to both accounts, which are then essentially separately configured).

The latter. It’s an IMAP/EWS client to your existing account. Importantly this means it reacts to INBOX in real time, but to other folders more slowly, and it cannot stop push notifications for mail delivery reaching you even though your mail will potentially be sorted subsequently.

Yeah, hopefully, if you do it during the trial period.

And this is the first time I’d heard of the “Deep Clean” feature, and I’m giving it a whirl right now. Apparently, even though I’m signed up for news announcements, they didn’t think it a worthwhile feature to announce! (It’s not on their “What’s New” page, either.)

I do that and still get unwanted email anyway. And why should the brunt be on the end user? And there’s a lot of this stuff I never asked for in the first place.

As far as manually deleting and unsubscribing, I have better things to do with my time: writing TidBITS articles, updating Take Control books, playing with my kids, tending to chickens, staring at a tree, etc.

Yeah, if you either have enough time or so little email that you can clean it up in a few minutes per day, SaneBox isn’t for you. However, with 22,000+ emails, I think I’d give it a whirl.

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What follows is off-topic, mostly.

A co-worker moved to another part of the large organization that employed both of us. He sent email to a senior person whose job required contact with contractors and people who interfaced with contractors (like my co-worker). When he received no response, he called and said this was a time-sensitive issue and how should he have communicated in the first place? Here is the (paraphrased) answer he received.

You did everything right, including calling. When my Inbox gets too large, I Select All and Delete. If something is important, the person will contact me again, like you did.

See? SaneBox not required.

What follows is off-topic, fully.

I suspected that, but your statement is the most unambiguous declaration I have seen. And I assume “mailing list” means any email from any company (or an individual with the proper ability and motivation, but that seems generally unlikely).

For the record, I tested the effectiveness of claims of a company called MemberPlanet which provides member services including mailing lists for small organizations for a group I belong to. The service was reporting that I was not opening my email when I had Mail set to not open remote content. I checked with some other members who were listed as not opening emails, and they said they also had their mail set to not open remote content. This was not an exhaustive survey, but it told me that what MemberPlanet uses was not a valid assessment of who was reading email. There may be other ways to assess who’s reading email, but I’m not an expert. I was just testing what I had seen reported in privacy circles some years back.

“Deep Clean” took a few hours to run overnight, and it does essentially what it says on the tin: you can sort batches of messages grouped by senders (including mailing lists designated using List-Id) by sender, message count, date and overall size (default). This is exactly what you need to identify nonsense you don’t want anymore, unsubscribe from discussion groups if you’ve been filtering mail into designated folders and then forgetting about it or subscribing to things of a very important nature that you just don’t read, etc. Brilliant. I’ll definitely be using this to get myself off some lists and prune my server-side rules for my iCloud account where a lot of the “bacn” is piling up.

/me idly wonders how quickly I could reimplement this as a Tcl script to scan a synced Maildir++ copy of my accounts …

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in my previous organisation, some people would declare email bankrupcy after they come back from leave. That means it is up to the senders of the emails to follow up again, otherwise all the unread emails would be wipe clean :rofl: