Thanks to our Android phones, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with friends and loved ones—too easy, perhaps, especially in those sad cases where friends turn into frenemies.
Take those long, meandering Gmail threads that just won’t stop. Or a tiresome buddy who’s forwarded one too many bad jokes. Maybe there’s an ex you never want to hear from again—no calls, no texts, no nothing.
Luckily, your Android phone offers plenty of ways to block unwanted calls, text messages and email, as well as mute endless email threads. And if unopened newsletters feel like virtual friendships that have fallen by the wayside, there’s an easy way to deal with them, too.
Read on for five ways to block frenemies on your Android phone, starting with…
Silence their phone calls
If you’ve made the tough call to freeze out a certain ex-friend, probably the last thing you’ll want to deal with is their smiling face flashing on the screen of your ringing phone.
While there’s no way to block calls from a contact completely (short of getting help from your wireless carrier, anyway), there is a setting you can try that’ll keep their calls from jangling your nerves: sending them straight to voicemail.
Here’s what you do…
Open the frenemy’s contact card in the Contacts app, or find them in the Phone app under the Contacts tab.
Tap the Edit button in the top-right corner (it’s the one shaped like a pencil), then tap the three-dot menu button in the top-right corner of the “Edit contact” screen.
Check the box next to All calls to voicemail.
Block their text messages
So, your frenemy has figured out that you’re automatically sending their calls to voicemail. Their next move? Sending you a text, of course.
There are about as many ways of blocking a contact from sending you a text message as their are text-messaging apps in Google’s Play store. For the sake of example, I’ll highlight the method that works for Messenger, Google’s official messaging app.
Launch Messenger and open the thread containing your frenemy’s text messages.
Tap the three-dot menu in the top-right corner of the screen, tap People & options then tap Block [number].
Have a change of heart about the friend you just blocked? Go to the main Messenger screen, tap the three-dot menu button at the top of the screen, select Blocked contacts, then tap Unblock next to the contact you’d like to invite back into the fold.
Note: Keep in mind that even after blocking a contact, your phone will continue to receive their texts; you’ll just no longer be alerted about them, and they’ll all be archived under the Block contacts screen. Once you unblock a contact, all their old messages will reappear, including the (sort of) blocked ones.
Slam the door on their email messages
They tried calling you and texting you, so it’s a good bet they’ll next try to reach you through email. Luckily, there’s a way to put the kibosh on a contact’s unwanted email messages, too—assuming you’re a Gmail user.
Here’s the trick: Open the offending email message in Gmail, tap the three-dot menu button to the right of the sender’s name (not the other three-dot button near the top of the screen) and the Reply button. then tap Block [name of contact].
Once that’s done, all future email messages from the shunned contact will be siphoned into your Spam folder.
Yes, you can always change your mind and unblock a no-longer-ex-friend. One way to do so is by finding a message of theirs in the Spam folder. Open the message, tap the three-dot menu button next to the Reply button, and tap Unlock.
Or, try this: Visit your Gmail account in a desktop web browser, click the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab on the Settings screen for a list of all your blocked frenemies, then click Unblock to start receiving that friend’s messages again.
Mute an annoying Gmail conversation
Sometimes it’s not a single friend who’s driving you nuts; instead, it’s a group of pals chatting up a storm in a Gmail conversation, one Reply All at a time. Rather than banning all your buddies, you can simply mute the thread itself.
Just open the Gmail conversation that you wish would just stop, tap the three-dot menu button in the top-right corner of the screen, then tap Mute.
When you do, the offending thread will immediately disappear into your Gmail All Mail folder. Any further replies will skip your inbox and go directly into your archive. The only exception: if someone in the conversation addresses a reply only to you.
If you want to see all the Gmail conversations you’ve muted, tap is:muted into the search box. To unmute a muted conversation, just open it, tap the three-dot menu button in the corner of the screen, then tap Move to Inbox.
Unsubscribe from newsletters you no longer open
What do friends and newsletters have in common? Occasionally, you drift apart.
As with frenemies, you can always break up with newsletters that you’re deleting sight unseen. All too often, though, we simply don’t bother to tap the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the message.
Well, good news: A relatively new feature in the Gmail app for Android makes it much easier to silence unwanted newsletters for good.
Just open the newsletter you’d rather not see again, tap the three-dot menu button in the top corner of the screen, tap Unsubscribe, and let Gmail take care of the rest.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.