How to (Mostly) Block a Sender and Let Them Know You Did in Gmail

Sending a Blocked Autoresponse canned template in Gmail on the web

You have tried ignoring those annoying forwarded emails. You have tried pleading to be removed from the string, and you may have even set up a filter to automatically delete new messages. But the emails keep coming.

There is one more thing you can try. How about creating a rule in Gmail that not only removes the offending email from the Inbox folder but also replies automatically, with a message that informs the sender that their messages are blocked. That might just finally get your name off the list of people that get those forwarded messages.

Gmail Cannot Delete and Auto-Reply, But it Can Do Something Similar

Creating such a filter is a tad tricky in Gmail, and you cannot have a filter (or a combination of filters) both send the auto-response and delete a message. You still can get the obnoxious sender's emails out of your immediate sight and way, though.

How to (Mostly) Block a Sender and Let Them Know You Did in Gmail

To create a filter that blocks a sender from your Gmail inbox and sends a reply to the (blocked) sender letting them know their message was automatically removed:

  1. Make sure the Canned responses lab is enabled. (See below.)

  2. Click COMPOSE in Gmail.

    Compose button in Gmail

    With keyboard shortcuts enabled, you can also press c, of course.

  3. Type the message you wish the blocked sender to receive in the new email's body (see below for an example message).

    Typically, delete any signature that may have been added to your message.

    Gmail will not quote the original email's text in the automatic reply.

  4. Click the More options downward-pointing triangle () in the message's toolbar.

  5. Select Canned responses > New canned response from the menu that has appeared.

    New canned response... submenu item in Gmail More menu
  6. Enter "Blocked Sender Auto-Response" (or, of course, whatever else helps you recognize the template) under Please enter a new canned response name:.

    Canned response naming dialog:
  7. Click OK.

  8. Now click the Discard draft trash icon in the message toolbar.

    Discard draft button in Gmail New Message
  9. If a message from the sender you want to block is at hand:

    • Open the email from the sender to be blocked.
    • Click More in the message's toolbar.
    • Select Filter messages like these from the menu that has appeared.
    Filter messages like this menu item in Gmail's More menu
    • Verify the correct address appears in the From field under Filter.
  10. If you do not have an email from the sender to be blocked within easy reach:

    Click the Show search options downward-pointing triangle () in your Gmail's search field.

    Enter the email address you want to block under From.

  11. Optionally, make sure Has attachment is checked to block only emails that include attached files or enter "Fwd:" under Subject to only block messages that (chances are) have been forwarded, for instance.

  12. Click Create Filter.

    Create filter button in Gmail
  13. Make sure Skip the Inbox (Archive it) is checked.

  14. Make sure Mark as read is checked as well.

    Skip the Inbox and Mark as read checkboxes in Gmail filter dialog

    Gmail filters will not currently reply automatically and delete a message; only deletion will occur. Make sure Delete it is not checked.

  15. Now make sure Send canned response: is checked.

  16. Select the auto-response template you created before (called "Blocked Sender Auto-Response", for example) from the Choose canned response… drop-down menu.

    Choose canned response
  17. Click Create filter.

If you desire, you can search for and delete messages from the blocked sender periodically.

Example You Have Been Blocked Message for Gmail

Subject: Delivery Failure (Blocked)
Delivery to the following recipient failed:
recipient@gmail.com
. The recipient has chosen not to receive email from you.

Enable "Canned Responses" in Gmail Labs

To add the Canned Responses lab to your Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon () near your Gmail's top right corner.

  2. Select Settings from the menu.

  3. Open the Advanced tab.

  4. Make sure Enable is selected for Canned Responses.

    Enable Canned Responses (Templates) radio checkbox in Gmail Advanced settings

    To find the Canned Responses lab, you can start typing "canned" under Search for a lab:.

  5. Click Save Changes.