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Consumer Reports: Taming your digital clutter

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Posted at 7:40 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 08:40:39-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Be honest: Is your email inbox out of control? Are you embarrassed to show people your phone, afraid they might see the hundreds or even thousands of messages?

“I never deleted any," said Nicholas De Leon. "So I had more than 200,000 emails.”

De Leon is a tech editor at Consumer Reports and apparently someone who doesn't like to delete anything. Or at least that’s the old Nicholas.

After receiving an email from Google saying he was about to be charged for more storage space for his Gmail account—he decided it was time to start cutting back.

“I became very dedicated to eliminating those kinds of little subscriptions from my life,” De Leon said.

And Google makes digital housecleaning a little easier with its Storage Manager.

“So if you have photos or videos or giant PDFs or things like that, it’ll highlight it," he said. "It’ll be like 'hey you’ve got all this stuff. Do you want to delete it?'”

Next, he searched his account for companies and brands he interacts with a lot.

“I don’t need electronics retailer's circulars from 2009,” he said.

Like Nicholas, you can also use the search tool to find emails with attachments or ones from certain dates," De Leon added. "Then you can even create a filter to delete the emails it catches."

“Over the course of two days, a couple of hours each day—it was more than a 100,000 emails I was able to delete.”

As you’re deleting emails take note of any old digital accounts you don’t use anymore. Because keeping them open can create a security risk.

“The companies could be hacked and the information could get into the wrong hands,” Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports Tech Editor said.

You can find forgotten accounts using the welcome email you got when signing up. You can also search your common usernames online, check your browser for saved passwords or your personal password manager.

If you signed up for any accounts through social media, like Facebook, you’ll find them there.

As for Nicholas, he says he’s working hard to keep his inbox in check and now he’s more vigilant about what emails he keeps.

“Do I need this delivery notification? Do I need this newsletter?” he asks himself.

One more tip: be choosy when it comes to which recurring emails, ads, or newsletters you sign up for. If you find you’re not reading the ones you get, open them one last time to unsubscribe.

With most of them, if you scroll down to the very bottom of the email, you should see a link where you can unsubscribe.