Mac101 – Improve Apple Mail Spam Filtering

I would say most people using Macs use Apple Mail for their email needs. It is a pretty decent app as long as you are not tracking 8-10 email accounts. One of the main problems with email is its potential to attract SPAM emails from all over the place. What does SPAM stand for? How about Stupid Pointless Annoying Message. I think that works. There are ways to improve the SPAM fighting abilities of Apple Mail.

Junk Mail Filter

Lets go into the Apple Mail Preferences and click on the Junk Mail Tab. You should see a window something like this:

Obviously, you have to make sure it is enabled. There are some settings in this tab that can improve SPAM filtering, especially the “Exempt” section down below.

Mail View

Now click on over to the “View” tab. This is very important. It is a good idea to turn off (uncheck) “Load remote content in messages”:

The images that come in emails can contain SPAM or open you up to more SPAM. Here is how that works:

Some spammers send out messages with web bugs — invisible images linked to the specific message you received — that notify the spammer that your email is an active email account once you click on the message. From the spammer’s perspective, this “validates” you as a real, live address, which then generates more spam for you.

So, be sure to turn off the “Load content” section.

Third-Party SPAM Utilities

If you really want to get serious about eliminating SPAM you should consider getting a third-party SPAM utility. The Mail app Junk filtering is not too bad, but not as thorough as a dedicated app. I have used a really good SPAM filtering app called SpamSieve for many years.1 It works in Apple Mail and just about any other Mail app on the Mac. Yes these third-party apps cost money, but they are worth it in my opinion if you are getting a lot of email. There are other third-party SPAM filtering apps, just take a look in the App Store or online.

  1. SpamSieve is easy to install and setup, I highly recommend it.