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Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail
Keep unwanted email messages out of your Inbox with Apple Mail!
Stamp out spam in Apple Mail by following email expert Joe Kissell's meticulously researched steps! Gain insight into the types of spam, why you get so much of it, and how to handle fraudulent or malicious messages. This book explains how Apple Mail filters out spam, and it discusses eight ways to optimize the Junk Mail filter, as well as how rules interact with the Junk Mail filter. Is spam still sneaking through? Joe introduces you to third-party options that catch even more spam. Covers Mail in Mac OS X 10.3 Panther through 10.6 Snow Leopard.
Bonus! Includes a $5-off coupon for SpamSieve, Joe's favorite spam-fighting utility! (The coupon is on the last page of the book.)
Questions answered in this book include:
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
Spam, or junk mail, is a plague that affects virtually every email user. You can keep unwanted messages out of your Inbox with the potent combination of Apple Mail, a bit of know-how, and a few third-party tools. In this book, you'll learn everything you need to know to keep spam out of Mail. This book was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Tonya Engst, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
Every copy of Mac OS X includes an email application called Mail (also sometimes known as Apple Mail or Mail.app). Because Mail is free, well integrated with other software, and fairly full-featured, it has become the most popular way for Mac users to send and receive email. Although I've tried every email application available for Mac OS X, Mail remains my personal favorite.
Nevertheless, Mail is far from perfect. Even with the improvements seen in recent updates, Mail has a number of deficiencies that have caused grief for thousands of users. One particularly problematic area is Mail's handling of junk mail.
Junk mail, or spam, causes more frustration and anger among computer users than almost anything else. Most of us find our Inboxes full of unwanted solicitations of every description, with the volume of junk mail increasing constantly. Mail includes a built-in Junk Mail filter designed to identify spam immediately, and better yet, the more you use it, the more accurate it gets. Apple would like you to think you can end your junk mail problems simply by turning on this filter.
Unfortunately, as many Mail users have discovered, far too much spam still appears in our Inboxes. Sometimes, this is due to an error in the way the Junk Mail filter is configured, or improper usage. At times, it may be due to a bug in Mail. And still other times, this occurs simply because spammers are getting smarter all the time, and have found ways around some of Mail's junk-filtering strategies. The bottom line is that for many users, Mail hasn't solved the junk mail problem—and for a few, it's made the problem worse.
I receive a great deal of email—and, consequently, a great deal of spam. So I've experienced the same problems other Mail users have. Rather than give up and start shopping for another email application (which may have its own problems dealing with spam), I decided to do some research and perform some experiments to figure out what was happening behind the scenes, why Mail does things the way it does, and how to address the limitations of Mail's Junk Mail filter. This book is the result of my investigation: your detailed guide to taking control of spam with Apple Mail.
Understanding how Mail really works is a crucial first step to using it effectively. Beyond that, I've discovered numerous tips, techniques, and add-ons that, taken together, have increased Mail's spam identification accuracy on my computer to nearly 100 percent. Needless to say, your mileage may vary, but if you follow the instructions in this book, you should be able to solve most of your junk mail problems with Mail.
Of course, junk mail is just one of many things Mail users may struggle with. In order to keep this book to a reasonable length, I've left out such important topics as understanding email protocols, solving problems with sending and receiving messages, dealing with attachments, and overcoming difficulties with addresses. I cover all these topics and more in Take Control of Apple Mail in Snow Leopard and in earlier editions of that book.
In my testing for this latest update, I used Mail version 4.2, which is included with Mac OS X Snow Leopard version 10.6.2. With very few exceptions (most of which I've noted), everything I say here is also true of the versions of Mail included with operating systems as old as Panther (Mac OS X 10.3.x).
Be that as it may, I strongly recommend that you upgrade to the latest version of Snow Leopard, if only to take advantage of improvements that Apple has made to Mail; consider purchasing my book Take Control of Upgrading to Snow Leopard if you need help.
I organized this book with background information at the beginning, followed by easy practical steps you can take, and then more complex alternatives. Most readers will find it helpful to follow this overall strategy in order, though you may skip steps that don't apply to you. Here's how I recommend approaching the process of taking back your Inbox.
Understand the problem:
This version updates the book with changes to third-party spam filters and Joe's latest spam-fighting advice. The book still covers older versions of Mac OS X back through 10.3 Panther, but it’s also updated for 10.6 Snow Leopard. The most significant changes are these:
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
August 20, 2013 -- We have no particular plans to update this ebook.
—Tonya J Engst
May 2, 2012 --
Take Control reader Genevieve S. wrote in with an interesting question a few days ago:
Genevieve: Do you know any third-party app that can filter mail on iPad and iPhone—i.e., apply rules?
Tonya’s reply: I don’t know of any apps that can filter mail locally on the iPad, but I’ve cc’d Adam and Joe here to see if either of them has a suggestion. Personally, I use my gmail account on the iPad, and Google handles the filtering on the server.
Joe’s reply: There is an app called ibisMail, which comes in both iPad and iPhone versions, that does filtering on the device. However, I do what Tonya does—let a server-based filter do all the work before messages appear on any of my devices.
Genevieve: Thank you for responding. I use the Gmail filter too, but the AT&T/Yahoo filter is lousy. This is not a problem when receiving mail on the Mac—the rules in Mail handle the leakage—but if I read the mail on the iPhone, a local filter would help.
Adam jumps in: You could forward the other account to Gmail to get the benefit of its filter. Lots of people do that.
Genevieve: Great idea!!
In the third edition of Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, Joe touches on email forwarding in “Decide Which Account(s) to Use,” and he references a Macworld article that he wrote—Streamline e-mail with Gmail. The Macworld article discusses how to forward a non-Gmail email account through Gmail.
—Michael E. Cohen
May 11, 2010 --
Find out what Joe thinks about changes in the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard version of Apple Mail and with the topic of email generally. In MacVoices #1076, Joe joins host Chuck Joiner to chat about what's new in the world of handling spam, how to use Google Apps to manage multiple email addresses within a single Gmail account, compromises and changes that Apple made to Mail in order to turn it into an app for an iDevice, and more.
Joe also talks about what's new in his Mail-related ebooks that were released in May of 2010—Take Control of Apple Mail in Snow Leopard, Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail, and Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
—Tonya J Engst
March 24, 2010 --
In MacVoices #1065, Joe Kissell talks with host Chuck Joiner about two core email concepts—the POP and IMAP protocols. In particular, he explains how IMAP makes it possible to work with your email messages from more than one computer in a fluid, sensible manner. He also gives tips for switching from POP to IMAP and for using IMAP in popular email systems, including Gmail and MobileMe accounts, the Mail program on a Macintosh, the Mail app on an iPhone or iPod touch, and he discusses how the Gmail approach to storing, searching, and labeling email messages can sometimes be "hyper-weird." Joe also talks about how spam filtering can work with IMAP accounts.
—Tonya J Engst
May 6, 2009 --
If you get a Facebook message from a friend suggesting that you visit fbaction.net or fbstarter.com, delete it, since it's a phishing attack that's trying to capture your login credentials. For more details, see Adam's TidBITS article, Beware Facebook Phishing Attack!
—Tonya J Engst
May 6, 2009 --
If you've ever thought that a great way to reduce spam would be to redirect email that you receive from your primary email address (or all your email addresses) through a Gmail account, you're not alone. And, if you've struggled with sometimes wanting to use Gmail, but sometimes wanting to use Apple Mail, you're in good company, particularly the company of Joe Kissell. To learn much more, check out Joe's exceptionally detailed TidBITS article, Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail. The first part of this article has background information about the IMAP method of retrieving email from a mail server, while the second details how to make your email work like Joe's does.
—Tonya J Engst
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