[App Fridays] Bring Marie Kondo's approach to your email inbox with InstaClean

InstaClean lets you get rid of unwanted mails, spams, and subscriptions in bulk. In the process, it also helps you reduce your carbon footprint.
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If you’ve not been living under a rock, you must be familiar with Marie Kondo’s decluttering philosophy by now, especially after the Netflix series. 

Her much-publicised KonMari method — a minimalistic approach to managing your stuff category by category — is now being implemented by architects, designers, home decorators, event spaces, and everyone obsessed with "tidying up". 

But what if you could bring that approach online… to your mailbox? With InstaClean, that may not be a far-fetched dream anymore. The nifty app replicates the KonMari approach of decluttering within your messy mailbox. 

It automatically sorts and detects unwanted mails by newsletters, spams, labels, senders, size, time, and prompts you to unsubscribe or trash them. All this is accomplished within seconds with its Quick Clean and Unsubscribe features.

Photo: YS Design

InstaClean claims to have helped its users get rid of five million junk mails in less than a year. The app has crossed 100,000+ downloads on Google Play Store, and earned a rating of 4.2 out of 5. On iOS, it enjoys a 5-star rating from users.

At present, InstaClean supports Gmail, Yahoo, Gmx, Mail.com, Yandex, Outlook, Zoho, Inbox.lv, Icloud, Me.com, and AOL ids. It allows users to manage multiple email accounts through a single log-in and switch seamlessly between them. 

The app also brings in a gamification layer, where users can accumulate EcoCoins with every mail they delete. The first 1,000 coins are credited as bonus on sign-up. InstaClean says on its app listing, “An average email emits 10 g CO2. Cleaning your Inbox will also help you reduce the carbon footprint cost of emails.”

You can redeem those EcoCoins to plant trees. InstaClean is running a project in the village of Thevaram in Tamil Nadu, and it will plant one tree if you spend 1,000 coins.

App dissection

The first step is to enter your email address (of the account you want to be cleaned). InstaClean prompts you to enable two-step verification for additional security.

After the two-step verification is activated, you have to generate an app password. This lets you access InstaClean on other devices like Macs, laptops, PCs.

You will also have to enable IMAP (a standard email protocol that stores messages on a mail server) to use InstaClean with Gmail.

Once the setup is complete, the app credits 1,000 coins into your account. In the next step, you create your profile by entering your name and other details.

Then, you are taken to the homepage. It displays your total emails and subscriptions in two neat boxes, with prominent call-to-action buttons: Quick Clean and Unsubscribe.

Quick Clean helps you delete unwanted emails in bulk. You can sort them by Sender, Label, and Size before deleting. You can also filter the mails by Time (year/month).

InstaClean also displays the number of mails and your actual open rates for each sender. This helps you better decide which mails to filter and which ones to keep.

Unsubscribe, which is said to be the app’s most popular feature, helps you stop receiving all future messages from a particular sender(s).

This doesn’t delete existing mails but stops future ones. The Trash feature, however, permanently deletes all mails from specific senders. You can even key in the sender's id in a box to block them.

Open the sidebar menu to check your daily stats (mails trashed, CO2 emissions saved, and so on) from the ‘Reports’ section or add email accounts to clean.

You can delete all your stored data from the ‘Manage Privacy’ section.

Your EcoCoins score is dynamic and keeps getting updated on the top right of the homepage.  Go to ‘My Coins’ section of the app to take stock of what you’ve earned and how much you can redeem.

You can also increase your coins tally through referrals to friends. Each referral adds 80 EcoCoins to your InstaClean account. 

Verdict: Easy and necessary

InstaClean has a complex log-in process, which is perhaps the only thing that might displease everyday users. But once you get past that, the app is a breeze. 

Its biggest draw is that it is free and ad-free, which immediately sets InstaClean apart from a majority of productivity apps out there. After all, who doesn’t like free software? 

What’s more, the app is smooth, clean, and visually appealing. There is multi-account support without any payment hassles. And, its auto-detect and auto-organise capabilities ensure that you practically do nothing after logging in.

InstaClean also claims to be fully GDPR-compliant, and promises complete protection of your inbox data. (That explains the time-consuming log-in too). An added bonus is that the app allows you to delete your data at any given point.

With productivity apps estimated to be a $106.8 billion global market by 2021, InstaClean is just getting started. Clean your inbox, clean the environment. Or as Marie Kondo would say, "Tidy up!"

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)