How I Manage Spam Email
by Gavin Hoole
(Cape Town, South Africa)
I have never installed anti-spam software, either free or paid-for. Yet I get zero spam in my mailbox at my ISP or onto my computer. This is how I do it. See if this approach would suit your own situation.
For a shorter version, click here
; otherwise, read on.
My primary e-mail account is with my Internet Service Provider (ISP). The e-mail client I use since the demise of my beloved Eudora is Mozilla Thunderbird1
When I receive legitimate e-mail that I wish to keep, I download it from my ISP mail server, using Thunderbird to do so. It is thus stored on my computer and accessible to me when I am offline. My important stored e-mails date back several years.
I now have only one e-mail address with my ISP
. I keep that address highly secret
so that no one
else ever sees it or uses it, not even my family. (I'll explain this shortly.)
I have numerous other e-mail addresses for personal and business purposes. Some are related to websites I own, like this site. Others are with a mail forwarding service, and some are webmail accounts such as Gmail, and ICQMail from the 'old days'.
I have Gmail Notifier2
installed on my Taskbar to alert me every time new mail has arrived at my Gmail IN box. And I use POP Peeper to do the same for all
my other e-mail addresses, plus some addresses I manage for friends of mine.
My e-mail 'sorting' situation
My e-mail addresses are set to forward all incoming mail to my webmail address at Gmail
. So Gmail is the first port of call that all
my incoming mail lands at. For me, Gmail functions something like a postal sorting station from where mail is automatically delivered in various ways according to my needs.
My primary reason for doing this is that Gmail has an excellent spam filter
based on their own vast knowledge-bank and the spam reporting of millions of Gmail users worldwide. And it has mammoth storage space. I can also set it up to send mail as if it comes from any of my other e-mail addresses besides from my Gmail address itself. It has a whole host of other features too. It's a great free service.
How the mail is handledSpam:
When new mail arrives at Gmail, if Gmail considers it to be spam, it sends it straight to the Gmail Spam
box. Gmail seems to be 99%-plus accurate in this regard.Filters:
I have created filters at Gmail as follows.Approved senders
: Mail that I want sent to my ISP mail server, to be downloaded using Thunderbird, is filtered to be forwarded to my secret e-mail address that only I know.Setting up a Gmail filter:
Gmail allows 20 filters for forwarding mail. As I have more that
20 'approved senders' whose mail I want forwarded to my ISP, I simply add a number of them to one filter. (To do this, I type the senders' e-mail addresses into the From
box in the filter set-up, with each address separated by a space and the word OR
and a space -- e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org and so on.
If I want to include all possible senders from a particular domain name (e.g. anyone from my publisher's domain) I omit the senders' names and just type one entry such as @mypublishers.com. Gmail's Help says you must enclose the whole list within brackets at the beginning and end. But I notice that Gmail now does that automatically, so I don't include brackets.)Jokes and funny video files
: Mail from friends who regularly send large attachments (like jokes or videos of Britain's Got Talent, etc.) is set to bypass the IN box at Gmail and go straight to Archives. It does not get forwarded to my secret address at my ISP. So I don't pay for bandwidth for those huge files unless I choose to open them in Gmail. (Because that mail does not come to my ISP mail server, it doesn't automatically get downloaded when I collect important e-mail.) When I have the time and the inclination, I will click on Gmail's All mail
link to see what jokes look interesting enough to open, or which attachments are not too large that they will blow my remaining bandwidth allocation for the month.Other mail
All other mail goes to my IN box at Gmail. Google now has a feature called Priority Inbox
to which Gmail will send the mail you want to read as a priority. Other mail gets displayed as Everything else
, unless you have filtered it to bypass the Inbox altogether.
The result is as follows
-spam mail from a pre-approved sender gets through to my ISP mail box. No spam mail gets through -- zero, nil, nada, bugger-all.Non
-spam mail from other senders who are not filtered to come to my ISP mail box is still available for reading at Gmail. If I want a new sender's mail to come to my ISP mail box in future (e.g. business, new contacts, etc.), I create a filter so that Gmail will in future automatically
forward all that sender's mail to my secret address at my ISP and keep a copy in the Gmail IN box. (I have found this useful at times, especially when the ISP mail server is experiencing problems. I can access a copy that is already sitting at Gmail if I need it in a hurry.)Spam mail:
Mail detected by Gmail to be spam is automatically sent to the Gmail Spam box. I can check there to make sure it is in fact all spam mail. If there is something there that is not spam, I can click on the Not spam
button to move it to the Gmail IN box. I can leave the other spam in the Spam box until Gmail deletes it automatically some days later; or I can click on the Delete Forever
button to get rid of it immediately, which is usually what I do.
These days I find that not much mail gets to the Gmail Spam box anyway. Perhaps Gmail has a back-office spam check that rejects known spam before it even gets to the user; who knows. But it is now much less than it used to be in the past.
My other preferencesSending and Receiving mail:
My Thunderbird is set to check for mail only when I click on the Check Mail button
- i.e. when I choose to do so. It does not check for new mail according to any schedule - because I don't want it to. It sends mail separately from checking, and only when I choose to send the mail. That way I manage my own e-mail activity rather than have something like Outlook/Express or Windows Live Mail doing a Send and Receive or Sync every time I go online. That would drive me nuts.Checking several mail accounts simultaneously:
POP Peeper can check several e-mail accounts simultaneously, such as ICQMail, Gmail, Yahoo, Mail.com, Hotmail, LiveMail, and more. And it can do so according to a schedule, or when I manually do it - according to how I have set it up (which happens to me every 10 minutes).
So, I have set POP Peeper3
to do that for my own mail account as well as for people whose mail I manage. If there's new mail displayed in POP Peeper that I want to read and delete without downloading and storing it, then I click on the Delete button and POP Peeper will delete that item from the mail server the next time it checks for mail, or there-and-then if I click on the Check Mail
button in POP Peeper.
Like Thunderbird and Gmail, POP Peeper is free and has given me no hassles at all (even when I had Windows Vista installed! LOL).
Anyway, that's the system I use. It works for me
! It's all free and involves very little work once it is set up. Compare it with other people's suggestions and decide what will work best for you. :-)I'm no anti-spam expert and would love to hear some fresh ideas from others. If there's a better way, please do tell. :-)
1. Mozilla Thunderbird
2. GMail Notifier
3. POP Peeper
This site is about happiness and how to be happy
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