How-To Geek

What You Said: How You Deal with Bacn


Earlier this week we asked you how you deal with Bacn—email you want, but not right now—and you responded. Read on to see the three principle ways HTG readers deal with Bacn.

The approach you all took fell into three distinct categories: Filtering, Obfuscating, and Procrastinating. Readers like Ray and jigglypuff use filters:

I use Thunderbird as my email client. I have different folders that I filter the email I receive into. The newsletters and other subscribed emails go into a lower priority folder.

One word: Filters. I just setup filters for all of this type of mail. Some I let go to inbox, others I let go straight to a folder without seeing it first. Then when I have time or want to go through them, I do.

Other readers used separate accounts to divide their email. Crab uses a hybrid of filters in one account and a totally separate email account:

Filters and folders, plus a separate gmail account for discussion lists that I only log into when I want to read my mailing lists.

Tags > folders, but gmail’s filters aren’t as sophisticated as a real email client, so it evens out.

MGtrek prefers to skip filters altogether in favor of maintaining distinct email accounts:

While filters can help, for me they are quite a bit of work to maintain and generally require that your email client be online. So using filters doesn’t help when checking from my mobile devices – and that is when I need the sorting the most.

What I’ve found has worked very well is to have multiple email accounts. Mine is set up in three layers. My friends use my primary account address. Email that comes from ‘reliable’ places that I am fairly sure won’t sell my address and will be sending me announcements and fliers go into the “registered” email account. Bacn and places that I feel have a higher risk of selling my address go into the “mailing list” email account. — And of course, there are standard spam filters on each with the personal address set higher and the mailing list one set lower.

It may seem like a pain to have three accounts (actually, six – I have one set for personal, and one set for business), but when you consider how many folders you create using the filter process, it all washes out. Plus, I’ve found that I have a different mindset when I am in the different accounts – similar to how you feel when you are in your personal email as compared to your work account.

Oh… and for those wonderful sites that insist on your email and you KNOW are going to spam you and sell your address, I send them to my “pit” email. The one that is only ever checked when I am looking for the info they are sending me that minute.

Other readers were well aware that a good filter or plan of attack might help but they hadn’t go around to it (or found that sub-folders/labels just didn’t work for them). Ed writes:

Gmail Snooze is great because it gets rid of the email for the time being, and when it comes back it appears in your inbox were you either deal with it, or Snooze it again. I never use filters/rules for Bacn because once an email goes straight to a subfolder, I rarely dig it out again. Filters/rules are good for emails of lesser priority, stuff that’s barely above spam (like subscriptions that you usually don’t look at).

Josh disagrees slightly with our definition of Bacn but agrees filters would be useful:

Firstly bacon is something I want all the time. So I wouldn’t call those emails bacn, I would call my friend’s emails bacon. But either way I haven’t set up any filters yet, however I have been meaning to for years. Gmails new “important” emails have been working fairly well. Maybe now that I’ve been reminded I’ll make a point to create some filters… maybe tomorrow.

-Mr. Procrastinator

Have something to add to the Bacn-wrangling discussion? Sound off in the comments below.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/7/12

Comments (7)

  1. Jon

    No one using the (formerly hotmail) clean up tool? It is brilliant, I set newsletters and things to be deleted after ten days because if I have not had a read of them by then they are out of date anyway.

  2. benjetson

    I do. It’s very easy.

  3. RA

    I use them too, very useful.

  4. TheFu

    I use
    * aggressive spam filtering
    * server-side filters
    * multiple email aliases … perhaps 100 … mostly for specific companies
    * tagging using server-side filters

  5. choddie buchanan

    how many folders do you have? i’ve got 256.

  6. Marguerite

    I use gmail and labels work great for me. Stuff I may want to take a look at later I put a ‘READ LATER’ label on.

  7. Pete Piper

    If you are still using folders to organize short term email, I think you are doing it wrong. Tagging or labels create “virtual folders” with no need to spend any time moving emails around.

    @Choddie: I do have about 45 folders, but those are just for year archives or inbound filters to get unimportant emails out of the way ASAP. Before filters and automatic tags, I’d create a new folder for every project and spend over an hour a day just moving emails into the correct project folders. Stopped doing that in 2007 and never plan to go back.

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