How to Bulk Up Your Junk Mail Filter in OSX Mail and Gmail

Mailbox with sign above it that says No Junk Mail.

Junk mail is a massive pain in the butt, but with some decent filtering options in OSX’s Mail app and Gmail, you can keep most of it far away from your inbox.

The default OSX Mail filter works decently, but with a few tweaks you can turn it into a fortress. Here’s how.

First, Do a Reset

The first thing you may want to do — and only do this if you think Apple isn’t currently filtering your junk mail consistently — is reset your junk mail rules.

1. Open Mail.

2. Click the Mail menu and select Preferences.

3. Click the Junk Mail tab to open the junk mail settings window.

4. Click the Reset… button at the bottom of the screen. You’ll get a warning.

5. Click Reset once again to complete the process.

Now, any rules that were set are gone.

It’s a good idea to leave junk mail marked and in your inbox until you get junk mail filtering properly. That way, you’ll see all the messages in your inbox.

If you want to take things a step farther, you can get that junk out of your inbox totally.

Now, change your settings

With rules reset, it’s time to change some settings.

On the Junk Mail tab, click the Perform custom actions button, then the Advanced button.

The junk mail tab.

The advanced settings menu will pop up.

The advanced junk mail settings are similar to regular mail rules and you can adjust the default settings to make the junk mail filter as strong or weak as possible.

The advanced-settings menu.

With a few tweaks you can make the junk mail filter …

  • move junk messages from your inbox to the junk mail folder
  • mark them as read
  • change the color of the text, and
  • just about anything else

When you’re all done customizing the filter, click the OK button to continue, and then close the mail settings window.

Your junk mail settings should now be running like new. To test things out, make sure you’re checking your junk mail folder periodically.

Junk mail filtering in Gmail

Providers like Gmail make it pretty easy to check your spam messages for items that shouldn’t be there and to report ones that should be.

Here’s how to update junk mail settings in Gmail.

If you see a message you want to report as spam, drag the message to the spam folder.

Screenshot of the unsubscribe message.

Gmail then gives you a choice:

  • you can just report as spam, or
  • you can also have Google automatically unsubscribe you.

If an email ends up in your spam folder but shouldn’t be there, it’s pretty easy to fix it. Just click the check box next to the message, then click the Not spam button. Doing this will move the message back to your inbox and should stop future messages like it from becoming spam.

Screenshot of the delete spam message.

Social-sharing message.

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