Unroll.me condenses emailed subscriptions into digests

Unroll.me shows promise in bringing order to your email, but this beta is still a bit rough around the edges

More and more email services are tackling the problem of email overload. One of the latest is Unroll.me, which attempts to organize your inbox by tidying up the mess left by all of those subscriptions most of us receive. Unroll.me has plenty of promise, but this free beta service remains a bit rough around the edges.

Unroll.me works with Gmail, Google Apps, and Yahoo email accounts; the company (also called Unroll.me) says it is working on adding support for AOL and other email services, but does not say when that will happen. You sign up for the free service online and link your email account, and Unroll.me goes to work automatically, scanning your email account to see which subscriptions you receive. It took just a few minutes for Unroll.me to scan a Gmail account that holds more than 10,000 messages.

Once the initial scan is complete, Unroll.me shows you your Rollup, which the company describes as "a digest that gives you an overview of the subscriptions you receive each day." By default, Unroll.me places all messages that it deems subscriptions into your Rollup, and it proved fairly accurate, though it did mistakenly identify messages from a few colleagues as subscriptions. You do have complete control over your Rollup, though, so it was easy to tell Unroll.me to deliver these messages to my inbox, instead.

You also can tell Unroll.me what time of day you'd like to receive your daily Rollup: morning, afternoon, or night. If you can't wait until your Rollup arrives to peruse its contents, you don't have to: you can either login to Unroll.me's website or you can take a look in the Unroll.me folder that's automatically added to your email account. All of your messages are delivered directly to this folder, which appears on mobile devices and any browser that you use to view your account.

If you want to use Unroll.me to monitor two email accounts, such as one Yahoo account and one Gmail account, you'll have to sign into each account separately on Unroll.me's site. Unroll.me does not create one blended rollup from the two accounts, which would have been a nice touch.

Another issue: I was less than impressed by the daily Rollup. The idea is promising, and the email message itself looks neatly organized, as it shows a list of your emails, organized into categories and by time received. But clicking on one of the message icons doesn't allow you to view that message, as I expected it would. Instead, it opens a page on Unroll.me's site, where you're taken to your current Rollup. So, if I open a Rollup from 2 days ago and attempt to view a message, I'm instead bumped to Unroll.me's site and my current Rollup. I then have to dig through several messages (my Rollup had almost 700 messages in it from the last few weeks) before I can find the one I want. I'd much prefer immediate access to the message in question. After all, if a service is going to save me time by sorting out the messages I don't need to see right away, I don't want to waste any more time trying to find the message when I decide I do need to see them.

I do like how Unroll.me's site lets you edit your Rollup, though. When I hover over the message, I can decide to enter "Edit mode." From there, I can either choose to unsubscribe from this message delivery or opt to have it sent straight to my inbox, instead.

Unroll.me is similar in many ways to Sanebox, a $5-per-month service that cleans up your inbox to display only the messages it thinks you need to see right now. While Unroll.me is free, Sanebox justifies its higher price by offering additional features, such as the ability to sort your less-important messages into a variety of folders, such as an archive, a folder to view later, and a folder specifically for newsletters. Sanebox also makes it easier to find the messages you want when you decide it's time to view them.

Unroll.me does have promise. Its design is slick and its aesthetics are appealing. But until it makes it easier to access the messages I do want when I want them, Unroll.me isn't saving me as much time as it should.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can link your email account to this Web-based service.

This story, "Unroll.me condenses emailed subscriptions into digests" was originally published by PCWorld.

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