How to filter spam on popular email programs

Time is a valuable commodity among busy entrepreneurs. Spam, the Internet’s equivalent of junk mail, steals time and resources that could be spent selling your product or expanding your client base.

Since the anti-spam mechanisms work differently in each e-mail program, I’ve outlined how to do this for a number of popular e-mail programs below.


Outlook 2003
Outlook 2003 has some fairly clever anti-spam tools. When e-mail comes in, the system will automatically flag suspect e-mail messages and place them in the “Spam” folder. You can flag those that are missed by right-clicking on the e-mail either in the Inbox or message preview screen and choose Junk Email settings. In this menu, you can add the sender to either a Junk Senders list or Safe Senders list. You can also mark all mail from a given domain as Junk. So any messages from naughtynakedpeople.com, for example, will be considered spam.
Outlook also blocks images from displaying in all e-mails (it does this by default, but you can disable it). If you want to see the picture, you right-click on the e-mail in the preview pane to allow them to download. This stops unsavory images from showing up by surprise when they are sent in spam. Anti-spam settings are also available under the Action menu under Junk E-mail >Junk E-mail Options.


Outlook 98/2000
Microsoft Outlook has a feature that can filter suspected spam e-mails. It searches for words and phrases commonly used in spam messages, and moves those messages to a junk e-mail folder, your “Deleted Items” folder, or any folder you choose. The list of terms that Outlook uses to filter suspected junk e-mail messages can be found in a file called filters.txt which is found on Windows computers in C:/Program Files/Microsoft Office/Office.

To activate the filter, click Organize at the top of the screen, then click Junk E-mail on the left, then select the options you want by clicking the down arrow next to each option box. You can either have the offending messages deleted, moved, or marked a specific colour. Then click Turn on to activate those options. Do the same for Adult Content messages on the same screen.

When you receive e-mails from spammers and want all future messages from them to be treated the same as other junk senders or adult content senders, right-click on the e-mail in the inbox and choose Junk E-mail from the menu, and then specify whether it is adult e-mail or junk e-mail.


Outlook Express 5.5/6.0
In Outlook Express 5.5 and 6.0, junk e-mail is handled a slightly different way. Choose the Tools menu and click Message Rules. Then choose Blocked Senders List. Here you can add e-mail addresses that regularly send you unwanted e-mail. When you receive e-mail from that person, Outlook Express will automatically dump it into your Deleted Items folder. You can also create customized rules that will filter incoming e-mail based on other rules you can specify.

For example, you could set a rule to delete all e-mail that has the subject “Make Millions” in the subject line. This tool can be accessed by choosing the Tools menu and clicking Message Rules, then Mail.


Netscape Mail (Version 7.x)
Netscape Mail automatically detects incoming messages that appear to be spam. When it detects a message that it perceives as unwanted, it marks the message’s Junk Status column with a special junk mail icon. At first, you must teach Netscape Mail to recognize what’s spam and what’s not. You have to mark mail that is missed as junk, and unmark mail that isn’t spam but is marked by the system in error. Junk mail features are available under the Tools menu by choosing Junk Mail Controls.


Netscape Messenger (Version 4.7x)
From the Edit menu, choose Message Filters, then click New and set up rules to filter specific e-mails you don’t want. You can filter messages by content, by sender, or by using several other settings. You can also specify what the software will do with the message if it meets the filter criteria. Besides deleting it, you can also set the message as read, or automatically move it to a designated folder.


Hotmail
If you use Hotmail, log on to your account with your Web browser and click Options on the far right side of the blue bar across the main screen. Then click Mail on the left navigation bar. Next, choose one of the various anti-spam features. The most useful is the Junk E-mail Filter, which has three automatic levels of mail filtering available.


Yahoo Mail
If you have a Yahoo web-based e-mail account, log on to your account with your browser. Then you can set up filters by clicking Mail Options on the right side of the mail screen. There are address blocking features, filters, and a spam protection feature you can activate.


Third Party Spam Software
There are several third party anti-spam services you can use, which are available for a monthly fee.

Cloudmark offers a plug-in for Outlook and Outlook Express that allows you to mark specific e-mails as spam and registers those e-mails on its network. When enough people mark a message as spam, it automatically deletes the message from every member’s inbox. This community approach eliminates 70%-90% of all spam automatically. See Cloudmark.com.

SpamArrest takes a different approach. It filters all your mail through its mail server and only forwards mail from those senders who have been approved by you or those that have been challenged to type in a special keyword. The idea is that only humans can type in those keywords. Since machines send spam, they can never activate themselves as valid senders. Those humans who are challenged only have to validate themselves once. Take at look at www.spamarrest.com .

Mailblocks – Think of this as Hotmail meets SpamArrest. It offers a web-based e-mail service like Hotmail, but it has a built-in challenge/response system similar to the one employed by the SpamArrest service.


If your e-mail program is not listed above, click the Help menu in your e-mail program, and search for words like filters, junk, or spam for instructions.