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've 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. Take it one step further by letting them know you've blocked them.

Create 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.

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

Gmail doesn't have a feature that lets people know when they've been blocked. Even the feature that lets you block a sender only moves their messages automatically to spam.

You can still achieve the effect by combining a filter, which you probably already have, with Gmail's canned response feature. It takes some setting up, but it can be well worth it.

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

  2. Press 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. Choose 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. Press OK.

  8. Now, select 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.
    • Choose 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:

    Select 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, you can check Has attachment to block only emails that include attached files or enter "Fwd:" under Subject to only block messages that (chances are) have been forwarded.

  12. Press Create Filter.

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

  14. Ensure 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. Finally, check Send canned response.

  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. Select Create filter.

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

  2. Choose 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. Press Save Changes.