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Monday, August 6, 2007

De-Spam Your Mac

Spam — it's the Crawling Crud of the Internet. Unfortunately, chucking the First Amendment is not an option for getting rid of spam. Instead, Mac OS X's Mail program comes with its own spam filter and provides you with two methods for handling junk mail.

  • Manually: You can mark any message in Mail's message list as Junk Mail. Select the unwanted flotsam and then click the Junk Mail button on the Mail window toolbar, which marks the message Junk. If a message is mistakenly marked as junk and you actually want it, display the message in the preview box and then click the Not Junk button at the top of the preview box.
  • Automatically: Mail has a sophisticated Junk Mail filter that you can actually train to better recognized what's junk. After you train Mail to recognize spam with a high degree of accuracy, turn it to full Automatic mode, and it will move all those worthless messages to your Junk folder.

You can customize and train the Junk Mail filter from the Mail menu; click Junk Mail to show the submenu choices. By default, Mail starts in Training mode, which means that it takes its best shot at determining what's junk. As you receive more mail and mark more messages as junk (or as not junk), you're actually teaching the filter how to winnow the wheat from the chaff.

After you're satisfied that the Junk Mail filter is catching just about everything it can, display the submenu again and choose Automatic. Mail creates a Junk folder and prompts you for permission to move all junk messages to this folder.

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