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How can I empty (that is, remove all the member addresses from) my mailing list?

You can only do this if you are the list administrator for a particular mailing list, and you'll need to know the list admin password for that mailing list.

The administration pages for mailing lists do not provide an instant means of emptying a mailing list.   This is a deliberate Mailman design feature, so as to help prevent sudden accidental removal of all the addresses from a mailing list.

If a mailing list is quite small (no more than a few tens of members), the simplest way to unsubscribe each member is by ticking the unsub boxes for each member in the Membership Management page for your mailing list.  However, for large mailing lists this would be tedious and time-consuming.

There is a way to do it, though there are a number of steps involved, in three main sections:

  1. Obtain a list of all the mailing list members;
  2. Copy the addresses to a text file;
  3. Upload the file to the Mass Removal facility in the mailing list's admin page.

These sections are described in sequence below.

STEP 1: Obtain a list of all the mailing list members

First you need to set your list so that it shows members' addresses in undisguised form:

  1. Visit your mailing list's admin page.
  2. Click on the Privacy Options link.
  3. Select No against the option "Show member addresses so they're not directly recognizable as email addresses?".
  4. Click Submit Your Changes.

To see all the addresses:

  1. Visit the website
  2. Scroll down to the section headed 'Quick links for list members'.
  3. Enter the exact name of your mailing list (but without the part) in the text box, then click the GO button.
  4. Scroll down to the listname Subscribers section (where listname is the name of your mailing list.
  5. Enter your administrator's password (NOT your personal email password) into the Password box next to the button labelled Visit Subscriber ListThere is no need to enter your email address - your admin password is enough.  Then click the Visit Subscriber List button.

The addresses of all the members of the list will be displayed in the browser window. If the mailing list is large, a very long page will be rendered by your browser.

STEP 2: Copy the addresses to a text file

  1. Hold down the mouse pointer to the left of the first address, and drag the pointer over the address so as to select it.  Release the mouse button.
  2. Using the browser's scroll bar, scroll to the bottom of the page so that you can see the last address on the list.
  3. Hold down the Shift key and click to the right of the final address.  This should cause all the addresses to be selected (highlighted).
  4. Copy the selection by entering CTRL C (hold down the CTRL key and type C).
  5. Now open a suitable text editor application such as Notepad, and Paste the addresses by entering CTRL V (hold down CTRL and type V).
  6. Check carefully that all the lines of text contain only email addresses: the lines must not contain bullet points, and each address must contain an '@' symbol.
  7. Save the newly-pasted text to a file.  Make a note of exactly where the file is saved.

STEP 3: Upload the file of addresses for mass removal

  1. Visit your mailing list's admin page.
  2. Click on the Membership Management link.
  3. Click on the Mass Removal link.
  4. IMPORTANT: Select No in both the Send unsubscription acknowledgement to the user and the Send notifications to the list owner options.  This is important so as to prevent a great many unsubscription messages being sent to the ex-members and to you, the list owner.
  5. At the bottom of the page, click the Browse button, then find and open the file you created in the previous section, containing the addresses.
  6. When the file has been opened, its name will be shown in the specify a file to upload box.
  7. Now click the Submit Your Changes button.

All the addresses - assuming they are correctly formatted - in the uploaded file will now be removed from the mailing list.


Go back to the Privacy Options page in your mailing list's admin page, and select Yes against the option "Show member addresses so they're not directly recognizable as email addresses?" (this was set to No in Step 1).  Then click the Save Your Changes button.


If you find all the above a little too daunting, you are welcome to send a request to IT Services for a mailing list to be emptied (a much faster method is available to the Mailman site administrator).   Please note that any such request must be sent by the mailing list's administrator.  If any mailing list has more than one administrator, we reserve the right to obtain the agreement of at least one of the co-administrators before carrying out the request.


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This is question number 2512, which appears in the following categories:

    Created by Andy Clews on 18 September 2012 and last updated by Richard Byrom-Colburn on 20 October 2016