I have a nasty email habit. I bounce spam. If you use Apple’s Mail on your Mac, bouncing spam is easy and fun.
I set up a couple of filters in preferences to redirect spam to a specific Mail folder, then bounce it back to the spammer. Does it help? Probably not. But not every spam email I bounce bounces back to me. And I feel better. What if you have legitimate email you send and it bounces back to you?
Good Bounces, Bad Bounces
When I bounce spam email back to the sender I have a momentary feeling of euphoria (sticking it to the man) followed immediately by the fear of bouncing a legitimate email message.
Such fears don’t last long. I figure that if the message was important they’ll try again.
Setting up filters in Apple’s Mail may look daunting but it comes with certain simple steps. In other words, you can set up a filter that automatically moves incoming email to specific folders on your Mac.
Here’s my list of filters in Mail.
The one that captures all the incoming bounced email that bounces back to me as undelivered looks like this. It works very well, captures almost every kind of bounced email and deposits it securely in the Trash.
Naturally, there are some problems with this simplistic filter. What if I send email to my mom and dad in Arizona, and for some reason it bounces back to my Mac? Well, it gets stuffed into the Trash like all other bounced email.
Getting around it requires yet another filter which keeps legitimate mail in the inbox, bounced or otherwise, before it gets filtered by my Bounce Filter™.
That got me to thinking about a problem many Mac users may have with email lists—lists of email addresses for family, companies, organizations—where email is sent out by the hundreds or thousands (or, dozens), and some email bounces back.
How do you handle such messages to keep an email list up to date? eMail Bounce Handler to the rescue.
Email Bounce Management 101
Handling legitimate bounced email is probably a manual chore for many Mac users who have lists of email and regular messages sent to hundreds or thousands of people.
If someone changes their email address, the message will bounce back as undelivered. Purging old email addresses from a list can be laborious. eMail Bounce Handler takes all those legitimate bounces, filters them appropriately, and spits out a list of dead email addresses to keep your original list intact.
eMail Bounce Handler works in concert with MaxBulk, a mass email application (but can also work with Apple’s Mail). The steps are pretty straightforward. Send all your email message to those on your email list.
Launch eMail Bounce Handler, set it up for your email account, and set it to check for email every 15 minutes or so, and let it run for a couple of hours. It collects all the bounced email messages, and makes them ready for the next step.
Caveat Emptor Laborious Painfulitis
The next step comes one of two ways. One by one, using old fashioned manual labor, you can check the bounced email addresses and delete or mark them off your Mail list.
That doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
If you’re using MaxBulk to send the email messages then all that’s required is to drag and drop the bounced email list into MaxBulk and it takes care of the deletion details.
Obviously, those processes differ greatly in cost (MaxBulk and eMail Bounce Handler are commercial products, though not expensive—using Mail and manual labor is kinda sorta free), so you’ll have to determine how valuable your time is vs. the effort required to send mass email and handle the bounces.
And, they work on Macs and PCs, which helps out small offices with multiple machines. As for me, I still take some satisfaction in bouncing spam back to the sender. It may not do much except use bandwidth, but I feel better about it for a few moments.