An alternative to Unroll.me, found on Product Hunt

Product Hunt is a great resource for finding out about the best new digital products that are available before everyone else. Last week, among an uproar about the email service Unroll.me, it featured a simple but powerful service called Gmail Unsubscriber.

Why was this necessary?

Unroll.me is a free service that makes it easy to unsubscribe from all the email subscriptions that you don’t want. It was created to stop “email fatigue” — the feeling we get from having to work our way through endless emails with coupon codes or newsletters we signed up for in 2006 that are no longer relevant.

Recently, an Uber representative mentioned when speaking about its competitor Lyft that Unroll.me had provided customers’ data to his company, for a cost of course, causing a backlash. While many companies do this, a lot of users see it as a breach of privacy, even though the data is anonymized.

Gmail Unsubscriber is an open source alternative to Unroll.me for Gmail developed by Amit Agarwal.

How does it work?

Instructions:

  1. Copy the Gmail Unsubscriber sheet to your Google Drive.
  2. Go to Gmail and add the label Unsubscribe to one or more bulk emails that you wish to unsubscribe from.
  3. Open the Google Sheet, go to Gmail Unsubscribe and Configure. The script will run in the background, every 15 minutes, and auto unsubscribes from mailing lists that are labelled Unsubscribe.

When you’re done, don’t forget to delete your Unroll.me account, after removing their permissions in your Google dashboard.

The tech behind the service

A simple Google Script powers this piece of tech magic. It finds the unsubscribe link among the content of bulk emails, opening it to automatically unsubscribe your email address in most cases. For some senders, an email to a special “unsubscribe” address is required (well they were hardly going to make it easy, right?) but the script can do that for you as well.

The script picks up a special field that most bulk email senders have in their message headers, i.e., a specific URL or email address which if utilized, will unsubscribe the user from their mailing list. As said above, some senders use a link in the body of the email message, such as “click here to unsubscribe” or simply “Unsubscribe.” The script recognizes this and opens it automatically.

Unlike the other services out there, no third-party services have access to your Gmail account. This means you can rest easy knowing that your data and car-sharing habits are between you and your inbox.

Privacy comes at a cost

Unroll.me is a free service, and some may say a loss of privacy is the cost of doing business. Lots of us, however, think that it shouldn’t be. While paid alternatives do exist, such as MailSTROM, a perusal of their Privacy Policy quickly shows that they too reserve the right to anonymize and sell your data.

There’s many ways that a new service or app can help make your life easier, what Product Hunt find or other lesser-known service are you into? Let me know.

I love to demystify tech and products for non-techies and share stories of cool and innovative stuff and companies. Follow me at @iststartupgirl on Twitter, or write me directly at fanawebworks@gmail.com.