Missing Emails? Tweak Your Spam Filter
Email spam is an annoying fact of online life that can never be avoided entirely. No matter how good your defenses, an unwanted message is going to appear in your inbox occasionally. Spam is irritating but relatively harmless if you simply delete it. The flip side of spam can be more serious. What if a legitimate message that you DO want to receive gets trapped in your spam filter? Here's the answer...
Hey, That's Not Spam!
You might miss a favorite email newsletter; or a hot Groupon deal; an invitation to a party; or a job interview. The consequences of “false positives” – legitimate messages wrongly treated as spam – often cause much more trouble than “false negatives” or spam that slips through to you when it should have been caught.
I heard about someone who sent a resume to a potential employer, and didn't realize they had emailed him twice, inviting him to visit for an in-person interview. It wasn't until he checked the Spam folder that he realized he was missing those important emails. Ouch!
The three major free email service providers – Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) – provide anti-spam filters that operate automatically in the background. Each of these services also gives you the ability to fine-tune spam filtering manually when necessary.
When you see a spam message in your webmail inbox, it’s pretty simple to select it and click the “this is spam” button that all of these services provide. The message is banished to your spam folder and the sender is added to your list of blocked senders; you won’t hear from that sender again.
Ensuring that senders you DO want to hear from will always get through your spam filter takes a bit more effort.
Yahoo’s method of whitelisting safe senders is rather confusing because there is no “safe sender” label that you can give to an address. Instead, you must set up a filter that specifies “when a message is received from this address, always send it to my inbox.” You can also specify other actions to take when a message is received from a specific address, like sending it to Trash, Spam, or another folder.
To access spam settings in Yahoo, click the Settings (gear) icon in the upper right corner of the main screen and click More Settings.” Spam-related options then appear in the left-hand sidebar, under the Filters link. Yahoo filters are not limited to complete email addresses. You can also filter based on part of an address; on words contained in the sender, recipient, subject, or body fields of a message. If an item was incorrectly sent to the Spam folder, select the message, and click "Not Spam" at the top of the page. The email will return to your Inbox.
There is also a “blocked senders” list of addresses whose email you never want to receive; it’s limited to 500 addresses. On the Settings page, click "Security and Privacy" to manage your blocked senders list.
To access spam controls in Outlook.com, click the gear icon, then click "View all Outlook settings." Click the Mail link on the Settings page, then explore the "Rules" and "Junk email" links to tweak settings that ensure you get the messages you want, and block the ones you don't. You can block senders or add them to a list of safe senders. You can also block all mail from a specified domain or add the entire domain to your safe senders list. You can also tell Outlook.com to block messages that have attachments.
Gmail’s spam filtering options are the most flexible and user-friendly of the three major email providers. I've used Gmail for many years, so I'm probably biased in favor of it. (Gmail has over 1.5 billion users, and is the most popular webmail service.) Gmail lets you create any kind of filter imaginable and send a filtered message to any destination you wish. To prevent a Gmail message from ending up in the Spam bucket, here's what you need to do:
- Open the message (you may have to find it first in the Spam folder)
- Click the "More" (three vertical dots) button, then select "Filter messages like this".
- Choose your search criteria. Specifying the sender may suffice, but you can also fine tune by subject or message body.
- Click "Create filter."
- Check the box next to "Never send it to Spam" and click the "Create Filter" button.
That message, and any future ones that match your filter, will end up in your inbox.
Have you found any clever ways to keep spam where it belongs and make sure you get all the emails you want? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Apr 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Missing Emails? Tweak Your Spam Filter (Posted: 26 Apr 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved