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Welcome to the latest installment of Ask ZDNet, where we answer the questions that make Dear Abby's eyes glaze over.
In the mailbag this week: What's the best way to cut down on junk mail?
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Online marketers can be remarkably persistent. If you give them your email address to enter a contest or to score a discount coupon, you can expect to get regular deliveries of ads, come-ons, and hard sells that can be downright exhausting. And they're likely to pass your address along to partners who will also clutter your inbox. The best way to avoid that feeling of inbox overload is to filter those messages to a separate account, where you can keep them away from more important messages.
That requires, at a minimum, two email accounts. Keep your current email address for regular correspondence with friends, family, and trusted merchants. Create a new account (Gmail or Outlook.com) and use it for less essential stuff, like ads, newsletters, and promotions that you can scroll through when you feel like it (or ignore completely).
Creating that new account is just the first step. Shunting all the unwanted emails out of your primary account will take some time and a bit of effort.
If all this sounds like work, well ... yes, it is. But in the long run, it's easier than wrestling with an out-of-control mailbox every day. You can get far more sophisticated with this strategy by using filters, rules, and Gmail labels to organize messages into folders. But just creating a separate account and not giving your "real" email address to untrusted correspondents should cut the junk mail torrent in your main inbox to a mere trickle.
Send your questions to email@example.com. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't guarantee a personal reply, but we do promise to read every letter and respond right here to the ones that we think our readers will care about. Be sure to include a working email address in case we have follow-up questions. We promise not to use it for any other purpose.