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

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You can't go your own way. ©ManImMac; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Have Gmail block a sender and sender them a "delivery failure" message.

Do and Talk About It

You have, initially and as a matter of course, tried ignoring all the annoying forwards. You have tried replying with emails first playful, then informative and friendly, then brief and to the point, then curt, then vexed, then angry and, perhaps, yes, even a bit insulting all pleading for the forwarding to stop.

You have, finally, set up a filter to automatically delete new messages.

Your effort's result? The emails are still coming and, albeit in the Trash, still annoyingly hard to ignore.

Looking for one more thing to try? How about having the rule in Gmail not only remove from the Inbox folder new emails from the sender but reply automatically, too, with a message that informs the sender that their messages are blocked. That may be just the hint they will take. Who knows?

Gmail Cannot Delete and Auto-Reply, But It Can do Something Similar

Creating such a filter is, alas, a tad tricky in Gmail, and, possibly most disappointingly, 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.

(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.
    • 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.
  1. Click the More options downward-pointing triangle () in the message's toolbar.
  2. Select Canned responses | New canned response… from the menu that has appeared.
  3. Enter "Blocked Sender Auto-Response" (or, of course, whatever else helps you recognize the template) under Please enter a new canned response name:.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Now click the Discard draft trash icon in the message toolbar.
  6. If a message from the sender you want to block is at hand:
    1. Open the email from the sender to be blocked.
    2. Click More in the message's toolbar.
      1. You can also hit . (period) if Gmail keyboard shortcuts are enabled.
    3. Select Filter messages like these from the menu that has appeared.
    4. Verify the correct address appears in the From field under Filter.
  7. If you do not have an email from the sender to be blocked within easy reach:
    1. Click the Show search options downward-pointing triangle () in your Gmail's search field.
    2. Enter the email address you want to block under From.
  8. 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.
  9. Click Create filter with this search ».
  10. Make sure Skip the Inbox (Archive it) is checked.
  1. Make sure Mark as read is checked as well.
    • Note that Gmail filters will not currently reply automatically and delete a message; only deletion will occur.
      Make sure Delete it is not checked.
  2. Now make sure Send canned response: is checked.
  3. Select the auto-response template you created before (called "Blocked Sender Auto-Response", for example) from the Choose canned response… drop-down menu.
  4. Click Create filter.

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

Example You Have Been Blocked Message

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 Labs tabs.
  4. Make sure Enable is selected for Canned Responses.
    1. To find the Canned Responses lab, you can start typing "canned" under Search for a lab:.
  5. Click Save Changes.