The Magic of OtherInbox

I get 300+ non-spam emails a day. No matter how diligent I am at unsubscribing from stuff, I still get an endless stream of valid, opt-in email that I want to unsubscribe to. Google takes good care of my spam and they even jumped all over my complaints about their spam filtering, figured out the problem, and fixed it (thanks friends at Google). So, I’m not talking about spam, but all the rest of the stuff that I don’t need to see right away.

I’ve tried to use Google’s categories, but it doesn’t really work well for me. Others are emails I never want to see and want to unsubscribe from, but (a) it takes longer to do that, (b) trying to unsubscribe from a mobile client is painful, (c) many of my unsubscribes don’t seem to work (I just end up seeing the email again in a few weeks), and (d) the whole experience / UI is sucky.

Now, before you jump to “use a different channel than email”, recognize that I have also Slack, Kato, iMessage, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and Google Hangouts open on my desktop with stuff hitting them all day long. Voxer lights up regularly on my iPhone, along with notifications from each of these apps. Channel proliferation has become a mess for me and one of the companies we are investors in is working on that problem earnestly.

Ultimately though I spend most of my time in Gmail especially given the amount of email I get from all different senders. It is unyielding – here’s an example from last week.

Email stats from last week

About 25% are emails that I do not need to see right away. Probably 10% are ones that I want to unsubscribe to.

OtherInbox’s Unsubscriber and Organizer solves both of these for me. Josh Baer, a long time friend and leader in the Austin Startup Community, was the co-founder. OtherInbox was acquired a few years ago by Return Path, which I’m on the board of. I used OtherInbox for a little while before and after the acquisition, but in one of my mad Gmail / Chrome plugin-performance-misery-slowdown-cleanup-fits I stopped using it.

OtherInbox folder list

Last fall, after playing the endless unsubscribe-to-clean-things-up-each-morning I decided to try OtherInbox again. I went all in this time. Within one week I was in email heaven.

Here’s how it works. If I want to unsubscribe to something, I simply label it “Unsubscribe” using Gmail labels and I never ever see it again. Then, OtherInbox constantly moves new emails that match certain criteria to folders. This happens automatically and in the background it figures out the organization of the emails.

I can adjust it if I want, but I’ve found that I spend almost no time adjusting it anymore. Typically, I have some unreads in there and they show up as unreads normally do in Gmail, so at the end of the day I just go to label:oib is:unread and take a quick look.

Give Unsubscriber and Organizer a try. I think you’ll find them as magical as I do.

  • Rick

    before you jump to “use a different channel than email”
    What is your objective? Without that we can’t offer any suggestions.

    • My objective is simple – handle all the communications that come in from all the different channels, and have the channels help prioritize in the background until my AI is ready and available to do it.

      • Rick

        Another thing I’ve been wondering. Was your post about people saying for you to get out of Boulder for real? Or was that a joke post or something?
        Also I’ve noticed it’s been kinda’ quiet around here. What’s up with that? Do you have someone trying to cause you problems? I’ve had that and might still have that. Can’t you fill us in?

        • “Get out of Boulder” – at least one of my trolls says stuff like that. I now view him as cute.

          “Kinda’ quiet around here” – what do you mean?

          • Rick

            Oh OK you’ve had that happen before. I think you’re taking the right stance on that. At first I thought it was just a prank and ran with it. But began to wonder.


            I thought there were more comments in the past – more activity here. Could be my OCD. I might be checking more often and thus thinking less activity. I’m really bored.
            You still never told me which idea in the new batch you want to fund.
            Also I can’t get your buddy Sean to discuss 10x. I worked hard on that response. Well I work a little bit on it at the computer so not really hard. Maybe he just figures it’s better to let me have my own opionion.

  • Morris Wheeler

    Have you tried SaneBox and/or ActiveInbox? Do you like the OtherInbox Alternatives better?

    • I’ve tried them both. SaneBox is very good but not better – and it costs money whereas the OtherInbox stuff is free. I did NOT like ActiveInbox.

  • This email inbox mess is one of the pain points I was thinking through when I was wireframing/validating a mobile, social email newsletter reader idea fall of 2013. The goal was get all your newsletters out of your inbox, and into a separate mobile/web app where you could consume them on your own terms…away from your day to day inbox. I never built it, but still totally think it would be a killer product for someone with existing distribution.

    Entire thought process is here: