Manage your junk mail with spam filters

The first email message was sent in 1971. It wasn’t until 1978 that the first spam showed up, but spammers have more than made up for lost time. Customers and readers alike want to know how to get rid of the spam in their In-box. This week I’ll show you how to manage the junk mail with spam filters.

You probably already have one

Spam filters do pretty much just what you would think: They guess which messages are spam and deal with them accordingly. Why don’t more people use spam filters? Sometimes it’s because you don’t know you have them!

Gmail does this well

If you use Gmail, you already have one of the best spam filters around. You’ll see a box in your Gmail called Spam. Google filters messages and places the ones it thinks are spam in that box. If a spam message shows up in your In Box, just mark it as spam. Gmail learns from what you do, so similar messages have a better chance of ending up in the spam folder from then on. Learn more here: http://www.google.com/mail/help/fightspam/getstarted.html.

You should have a look in the Spam folder every so often, because sometimes a legitimate message gets marked as spam. In that case, mark it as Not Spam, and it will be moved back to your In Box. Again, Gmail will learn from this and stop tagging those messages as spam.

Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail also have spam filters, but they don’t do as good a job.

Check with your internet provider

If you’re a Shaw or Telus customer, you have spam filters available to you. You can easily adjust settings for your email so that messages tagged as spam never even reach your In Box. The instructions for Telus customers are here: http://telus.com/content/help/internet-support/faq.jsp?id=email-faq#spamtag. Shaw customers should check here: http://www.shaw.ca/Support/Internet/Email/Learn-Email/Spam-Filter/. There is a downside to having Telus or Shaw make all the decisions, though. If their filters decide that something legitimate is spam and don’t send it to you, you won’t even know about it. I recommend using the “tag” option, at least for awhile, to see how accurate the filters are.

If you’re not a Shaw or Telus customer, check with your service provider about spam filtering options.

Email programs have spam filters, too

Modern email programs also have spam filters. And by modern, I do not mean Outlook Express. If you are using Outlook Express, consider using a different email program. If you must use Outlook Express, consider using a free third-party spam filter. Mailwasher (http://www.mailwasher.net/) and SPAMfighter (http://www.spamfighter.com/Product_Info.asp) are decent.

Thunderbird (http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/), Windows Live Mail 2011 (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-live/essentials-other-programs), and Outlook (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/), which is not the same thing as Outlook Express, all have spam filters, and they all learn from what you teach them. Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail are free. Outlook is part of Microsoft Office. You have to pay for it.

Windows Live Mail has a folder called Junk e-mail, and that’s where the spam goes. If you have something in your Inbox that’s spam, click on the Junk button to teach WLM that it’s junk. If you have something in your Junk folder that doesn’t belong there, click on the green Not junk check mark. It’s that simple! If you want more complicated rules, click on the little down arrow beneath the Junk and Not junk icons for more options. Thunderbird (http://www.tech-evangelist.com/2007/09/03/mozilla-thunderbird-spam-filters/) and Outlook (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/overview-of-the-junk-email-filter-HP010355048.aspx) work much the same way.

But wait, there’s more!

Using spam filters will help cut down on the amount of junk mail you actually see. In upcoming columns I’ll talk more about how to keep the spam out and how to deal with what seeps in. Send questions to me at [email protected].

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.

More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Computer Care Kelowna

Column Archives

Get Cate's column by email

RSS Feed

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories