Sanebox: Make Email Great Again

Unlike the person with a similar slogan, this one is highly accurate. Sanebox does indeed make email great again.

I’ve been using email since 1983. I started with MH and Rmail, then cc:Mail, then Microsoft Mail, with Compuserve mixed in. Eventually I ended up using Pine for non-Windows stuff and Outlook for Windows stuff. For a while. About seven years ago I switched to Gmail and never looked back.

Over the last seven years, I’ve tried a bunch of different add-ons and plug-ins and whatever you want to call them to try to clean up my inbox. As investors in Postini, I was able to eliminate my spam problem early on. But I struggled endlessly with bacn. I get 500+ emails a day so the bacn is intolerable in my main email flow and ends up getting ignored, rather than read later.

So I’d go through weeks of unsubscribe fits, where I’d try to mash out my misery by unsubscribing to things I didn’t want. Often, this just resulted in more bacn, sometimes from the same senders but often from others. I once again would go through another cycle where I’d try a different unsubscribe tool, but I’d always end up with better, but not good enough.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I decided to try Sanebox. My partner Seth has used it for a while and several other people I know swear by it. I tried it when it first came out (as one of my endless efforts to tame my inbox) but it didn’t satisfy me then.

This time – about a month later – I can definitively state that Sanebox is awesome. Not sort of awesome. Extremely awesome. It should consider running for president.

Magic trick #1: @SaneBlackHole: If I want to never see a piece of bacn again, I just label it @SaneBlackHole by typing v<downarrow><enter>. Gone, forever. Anything from the sender never ever shows up in my inbox again, kind of like how Ramsay Bolton will never show up in Game of Thrones again.

Magic trick #2: @SaneNotSpam: I trust Gmail’s spam filter so I never, ever look in my spam folder. But Sanebox does look there for me because it knows not to trust it as much as I do. It finds at least one piece of NotSpam every day – sometimes as many as five pieces. Some of the NotSpam is amazing – on Friday a distribution notice from a VC fund I’m an investor in showed up there.

Magic trick #3: @SaneLater and @SaneNews: Sanebox automagically figures out which things I can look at later. It also figures out which email is a newsletter of some sort. It’s easy to adjust these if it gets it wrong, or label an email in my inbox with one of these labels and it then becomes one of these forevermore. At least 20% of my daily email ends up in one of these folders which I can then process once a day.

Within 30 days, with almost no effort, the signal in my inbox has reached about 99%. I read through notifications and news once a day. The crap that I don’t really want shows up once in SaneLater or SaneNews, I relabel it SaneBlackHole, and it’s gone forever.

Suddenly, my inbox is remarkably clean, useful, and free of noise. Thanks Sanebox!

Also published on Medium.

  • I’ve been using SaneBox for years (since 2010), eventually got my wife hooked on it, and now can’t imagine email without it. Stuart and his team do a nice job!

  • “…kind of like how Ramsay Bolton will never show up in Game of Thrones again.”

    Wrong! The jilted Melissandra will bring him back from the dead.

    • Ooh. Good call. But she’s going to have to open up a bunch of dogs stomachs.

  • chris_at_cedarhillsgroup

    This looks like a really cool service. However, I just can’t trust any service with access to my email. I don’t care what their security page says. Any service that is collecting email passwords or Auth Tokens is going to be a target. If you lose access to your email account or someone gets access they can reset all your cloud passwords. Game over.

    As much as I really want to try it, I just can’t. 🙁

    • Yeah – I know the risk, but they seem to be much better than most. And more importantly, they are only storing headers.

    • Notion is cool, but it doesn’t do the things that SaneBox does. I use SaneBox with Notion.

  • I’ve been using Notion ( for several months now and swear by it. They have some AI that calls out important messages and helps you quickly dismiss unimportant emails.

    • I don’t have the particular problem that Notion is solving. But it looks neat.

    • Notion is cool, but it doesn’t do the things that SaneBox does. I use SaneBox with Notion

  • I love hosting my website at Doteasy but their email interface is horrible. After much experimentation, I’ve been using Thunderbird for a long time and remain quite pleased with it.

  • Sanebox has been fantastic for me. Thanks for calling out ‘@SaneNews’ though, I hadn’t checked out that feature before.