Unwanted e-mail? Filter it out!

Question: How do I use my e-mail program to filter out unwanted messages?

Answer: I get asked this kind of question a lot. Spam, the internet equivalent of junk mail, is a real headache for a lot of people, Learn to defeat spam. Luckily there are built-in features in many e-mail programs to help you manage spam.

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

Outlook 98/2000Microsoft Outlook has a feature that can filter suspected spam e-mails. It searches for phrases and words commonly used in spam messages and, when it finds them, it automatically moves messages containing them to a junk e-mail folder, your “deleted items” folder, or any folder you choose. The list of terms that Outlook uses to filter out suspected junk e-mail messages can be found in a file called filters.txt which is found in 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, and then select the options you want by clicking the down arrow next to each option box. You can opt to either have the offending messages deleted, moved, or marked a specific color. Then click “Turn on” to activate your filter with these options.

Do the same for “Adult Content” messages, using this same screen.

If you receive an e-mail from a spammer and want all future messages from them to be treated the same as other junk senders or adult content senders, then right-click on the e-mail in the in-box and choose “Junk E-mail” from the menu and then specify whether it is adult e-mail or junk e-mail.

To create your own spam killer using the rules wizard in Outlook 2000, see this useful Web page: leeholmes.com.

Outlook Express 5.5 – In Outlook Express 5.5, 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 rules you specify. For example, you could set a rule to delete all e-mail that has the subject “Make Millions” in the subject line. You can access this tool by choosing the “Tools” menu and clicking “Message Rules”, then “Mail”.

Netscape Messenger (version 4.7x) — From the Edit menu, choose “Message Filters”. Then click the “New” and set up rules to filter specific e-mails you don’t want. You can filter messages by content, by sender, or using several other settings. You can also specify what the software will do with any message that 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 to receive your e-mail, log on to your account with your Web browser and click “Options” on the blue bar across the main screen (below the banner ads). Then click “Filters” to set up customized message handling. If you click “Block Sender”, you can specify e-mail addresses that you want blocked. If you click “Inbox Protector”, you can enable a series of settings that provide additional protection from spammers.

Yahoo Mail — If you have a Yahoo web e-mail account, log on to your Yahoo mail account with your web browser. Then you can set up filters by clicking “Options” on the left column of your in-box. Next click “Filters”. There’s also a “Block Addresses” feature that can be activated. Yahoo has a built-in spam filter that sends all suspected e-mail to your “bulk mail” folder. This can be turned on and off by clicking “Options” and then “Mail Preferences”.

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

There are also instructions on How to filter spam on popular email programs for a variety of older e-mail programs.

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