Filtering Junk Mail

You can filter junk mail in the Apple Mail app, but you should first try to prevent spam email from even getting past your server. If you use a good transportable email address, like Gmail, you'll get most of your junk mail filtered out before it gets to your Mac. Apple Mail can act as a last line of defense if you set up junk mail filtering in the preferences. You can also add your own filters for reoccurring spam email in Gmail and in Apple Mail. If you no longer want to receive mail from a company you have done business with or have subscribed to, be sure to use their Unsubscribe button instead of reporting the email as junk.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Filtering Junk Mail.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's look at stopping junk mail.

There are many ways to prevent junk mail from reaching your inbox. You may be tempted right away, if you are using Apple Mail, to go right to Mail, Preferences, go to Junk Mail, and then enable junk mail filtering and leave the burden all on your email client program, Apple Mail, to filter it out here at the last minute just before it hits your inbox.

But what you should actually do is before you go here, this should be the last resort, you should go to your ISP, your internet service provider that provides you with the email service, and try to set up spam filtering there.

Now if you use say gmail then spam filtering is automatic and it is very good in gmail because it is basically crowd sourcing the whole thing.

Now junk mail or spam is completely unsolicited email. If it is something that say you signed up for but you no longer want to get it, it is so important that you don't use the junk mail button here or in gmail or anywhere else but instead use the unsubscribe button that you find at the bottom. You will find this in any legitimate piece of email. So look here first, see if you find this, and then hit that button to cleanly get you off without penalizing the company that sent out the email. After all you were the one that asked for it so you need to do the responsible thing and ask to not get it rather than jumping right to the spam button.

I highly recommend that you use a transportable email address like one from gmail or yahoo or a Microsoft account. Something that you have no matter what ISP you are using. If you use an account from say Comcast or Verizon or any provider like that where they are providing the physical connection to the internet you can very easily loose that email account by simply moving. If you move to another neighborhood you could find that you can't get that same service there and now you no longer have that email account.

So it is a bad idea to ever use your ISP's email and you should use something you can transport. Apple's iCloud service for instance. It doesn't matter where in the world you are or which provider you've got for internet you can always use that. Those services generally have better spam filtering.

However if you are stuck, for some reason, using a service like Comcast you can very easily search for Comcast junk mail settings or Verizon junk mail settings and come up very quickly with links to information or maybe directly to the settings for junk mail for setting it up on the server so that spam never hits your inbox.

You should set that up before you even consider setting up junk mail filtering on your Mac itself.

So now let's look at your last line of defense. That is the junk mail filtering inside of the Apple Mail app. You go into preferences there and under Junk Mail this is where you can enable it. You have several different settings.

Of course you want to set it up so if the sender is in your contacts that it won't be sent there. You want to try to basically prevent false positive. That is what most of this stuff is for.

Now the junk mail filtering in mail will learn as you use it. So as you mark things as spam it will get better and better. But of course it is only learning from you as opposed to say using gmail or something where it is learning from millions of other people who are marking things as junk mail and marking them as not junk mail as well. So it is not going to be as good as other filtering solutions out there but you can still use it and still set this up so that it doesn't get as many false positives.

In addition to using just the regular junk mail filters you can also set up rules here. So a rule can take something into account like having something in the subject and having some text in there and then immediately move it to junk. So if you find something that is slipping through junk mail filters all the time, just like with gmail, you can set something up that automatically filters it to go out right to junk mail.

So to have it learn you want to select the email and hit this button here which marks it as junk mail. You can select multiple messages. You can use shift key, select a range or you can use the command key to select multiples. Once you select multiples you can mark them all as junk there.

But it is just as important to go into your junk mail folder and if you see something that is not junk then you can give it the thumbs up and it will mark as not junk and learn from that as well. So you want to kind of do both to improve it. You just want to check your junk mail folder once in a while anyway to look for false positives.

Comments: 10 Responses to “Filtering Junk Mail”

    4 years ago

    You should only click ‘Unsubscribe’ when you sure it’s legitimate.

    We once experimented with the ‘Unsubscribe’-‘feature’ of spam mails and got redirected to a page where we had to enter the email-address to unsubscribe.
    Instead we entered a newly created one just for testing and – you might have guessed it – it got immediately hammered from lots of different spammers…

      jasper robinson
      4 years ago

      Yes, if it’s unsolicited there’s a really good chance it’s a spammer who’s just bundled a list of names onto, etc and hit send. Once they know you’re real, you’re in trouble :-/ Also uncheck “Load remote content from messages” in Preferences → View. I believe that the download can signal to the sender that it’s been opened and, again, the unsolicited spammer know’s you’re real.

    Joe Sandusky
    4 years ago

    The Thumbs up does NOT work. On any e-mail that lands in my Junk Mailbox that is not junk I have not been able to change the rules for this e-mail. I have tired to mark as junk (even though it is already in the junk mailbox) and then reverse it by giving it a thumbs up and that just will not work. How do we get mail to recognize e-mails that are NOT junk and stop making them as junk?

    Thank you


      4 years ago

      same issue here. happens w/ my mail/gmail. thumbs up ‘not junk’, drag it out of junk into inbox to see if the ‘next’ time it will go where it should. done this many times, so i’ve lost track if it still works or not :) any definite tweaks would be great.

        Joe Sandusky
        4 years ago

        Crystal: I have tried this numerous times and it just does not work?

    4 years ago

    Hi Gary. Thanks for another informative podcast. I have an email that keeps going to the junk, but shouldn’t. Your video shows a ‘thumbs up’ logo to tell Mail it’s not junk. How do you get that button to appear please? For me, when the junk box is selected, it still shows a ‘thumbs down’ as if to confirm it is junk. I’ve looked in the ‘customise toolbar’, but I can’t see a ‘thumbs up’ anywhere!
    Have a great Christmas, and thanks again for all the info you’ve shared throughout this year. Al

      4 years ago

      Edit: Ok got it now, you have to click the thumbs down to get the thumbs up it seems!

    John Carter
    4 years ago

    Gary, you missed an important feature of the Mail->Preferences->Junk Mail for configuring junk mail. That’s the button for “Configuring custom actions” in combination with the Advanced button. But even with all that, lots of junk mail still shows up in my inbox, and no matter how many times I click on “Unsubscribe” it keeps coming back. Another thing to do frequently is to clean out the “Previous Recipients” list in Mail so that the junk mail filter will do the right thing.

    Shirley Allan
    4 years ago

    I also Uncheck “Message is addressed using my full name” and haven’t gotten junk or spam in years. I do have an Image Spam rule set up that says if the Content-Type contains multipart/related, the Sender is not in my contacts or in my previous recipients send it to junk but I check junk too.

Comments Closed.