Test Drive: Unroll.Me

By on January 20, 2012

Lauded as the greatest thing to hit your inbox since the search function, Unroll.Me lures in users with an irresistible promise: to stop all of these ridiculous subscriptions from cluttering up your email. For someone like me, this is a godsend. My inbox is always full of fail, partially due to the huge amount of unsolicited sales pitches I receive. But before even getting to this great service, there was a downside — the beta was invite-only, so it took about two weeks from the time I requested access to the point that I could actually use it.

The program itself is quick and straightforward, but there are some downsides. Unroll.Me is slightly invasive; not only does it require your password and log-in (prompting a screen from Google explaining how to revoke access) but it also caps your subscription finding, asking you to spread the word in order to view the entire list of subscriptions.

Making snap decisions on all of those subscriptions did force me think about what was truly worthwhile. Yeah, I had paid my $250 for Dov Simens 2 Day Film School two years ago, but was I receiving any more value from being on this email newsletter? Actually, when was the last time I opened one of those? At risk of sounding like a Cheetos-munching stereotype, delete, delete, delete.

Unroll.Me also has a particular appeal for folks like me. As the editor of a popular website, I am often subscribed against my will to all manner of newsletters. This can be hilarious (who the heck are the AppStreet Boys?) but most often, it’s just annoying. Generally, newsletters I did not ask to receive are the most prolific, sending me daily updates on people I know nothing about, except that they’re promoting a new book/CD/life-coaching exercise. I could really do without demo tracks I will never listen to, long screeds against corporate executives and updates celebrating the opening of a new crisis pregnancy center.

But while this process is convenient, it isn’t perfect. Unroll.Me actually failed to detect quite a few of the newsletters in my inbox, and takes a hellaciously long time to process. I started the unsubscribe of 60 newsletters at 5:07 p.m. and wasn’t done until 5:15. And after that, there were still 18 subscriptions I had to manually process. Even some of these were confusing — one asked me to confirm my subscription, whereas another unsubscribe link led to an (unrelated) tee-shirt company.

Ultimately, for a free beta, Unroll.Me works about as well as one can expect. It’s a swift way to unsubscribe to things in batches and makes a huge dent in the email pile. However, for people looking for more accuracy, it’s probably better to go about unsubscribing the old fashioned way.