The public internet is about 22 years old. What’s the killer app of the internet? Some would say the browser, the window to the information superhighway. But let’s look at killer app from a different perspective.
I say the real killer app is email. How so? In every sense of the term ‘killer app‘ email fits the definition. Along with legitimate email messages comes email from the dark side. Spam– it kills time, productivity, and efficiency. Here’s a way to defeat spam on your Mac, and keep it off your iPhone and iPad.
Take my 22 years of dealing with email as a cue. There are only two legitimate ways to defeat email spam. Only one of those is truly acceptable to Mac users. First on the list is a solution many of us have dreamed about using, but just don’t have the nerve. Don’t use email. Go off the email grid, so to speak.
That solution gets rid of email spam. Unfortunately, it’s throwing the baby out with bath water and not an acceptable solution despite the sentiment. It is a valid alternative, though, and it’s guaranteed to get rid of spam.
Second on the list is a solution employed by most Mac users in one way or another. Apple provides a built-in Junk Mail filter, a way to identify and dispose of email spam. Unfortunately, for those of us with multiple email accounts that have been around for years (thereby attracting spammers), Junk Mail just doesn’t work all that well and there is a better solution.
For most of the 21st century I’ve relied on SpamSieve, and add on Mail utility that works much like Junk Mail, only better. Actually, much better. And there’s a way to set it all up so you don’t get spam on your iPhone or iPad.
While Junk Mail seems to work well for awhile, it also seems to degrade results over time, while SpamSieve actually improves, captures more spam messages, and yet still works in the background. Install SpamSieve, check your Mail inbox for spam, select the spam messages, and then select Train As Spam from the SpamSieve menu.
SpamSieve knows most of the spammer tricks and uses a Bayesian spam filter to trap spam, mark it as spam, and send it to a spam folder. Bayesian is a fancy way of saying it applies specific conditions to each message, and assigns a weighted probability to identifiable spam.
Not all spam is created equal, so SpamSieve lets you guide results by using both a whitelist and blacklist to identify spam. Email messages from your Contacts are automatically added to the whitelist, while spam that appears to be legitimate can be flagged as spam (making it easier to catch the next time).
For me, I have all messages marked as spam dropped into a Spam folder and I check it every week or so. The more I use SpamSieve the better it works, and it’s been a year or two since a legitimate message was marked as spam.
SpamSieve works with Apple’s Mail, of course, (it even opens automatically) but also works with other email apps, including Outlook for Mac (Outlook Express, Emailer, Entourage, Eudroa, MailForge, MailMate, Postbox, PowerMail, and even Thunderbird). One issue I have is that SpamSieve does not delete email messages marked as spam. That’s probably so you won’t lose any email at all, but I’ve found it so accurate that I’m not afraid to set the filter to send spam directly to the Trash folder.
While SpamSieve works well as a ‘set it and forgetaboutit’ app for your Mac, preferences are extensive with Filters controls, Notification options (sounds and badges), Training (whitelist and blocklist, plus duplicates in the corpus), and, my favorite, the Advanced preferences which has a simple slider bar to increase or decrease– aggressive vs. conservative– how SpamSieve works.
iPad And iPhone Spam
To date, I don’t know of a good spam filter app for iPhone and iPad, but not to worry. If you have SpamSieve running on your Mac, and your email accounts allow for the IMAP email protocol, your Mac can be the spam filter for your mobile devices with the same email accounts.
I set up Mail on my Mac as the primary email system, including SpamSieve. Incoming email gets checked on the Mac, and spam is moved into the spam folder to be deleted later. For iPhone and iPad, all I had to do was set up the exact same accounts but have Mail check for messages less frequently. Because it’s IMAP, spam messages get removed from the inbox on Mac Mail and from iPhone and iPad inboxes.
If spam is a problem for you on your Mac, SpamSieve could easily be the answer. It takes some setup effort, and helping SpamSieve learn your type of spam can improve results and get you to the ‘just works’ level.