Email is a scourge. Unwanted email– spam– is worse (I couldn’t find a word that was worse than scourge; I’ll take suggestions). It’s easy to see why people end up using Yahoo! mail or Google’s Gmail as both have decent spam detectors and segregation unwanted email messages from incoming email.
For those of us who have had email accounts and addresses for many years you know the problem. Email addresses get harvested from Windows PCs and end up in giant spam farms which spew out crazy, worthless, but time consuming messages by the billions. Each day. What do you do to combat spam? Here’s my solution.
Spam Is Junk Mail
Kudos to Apple for building in a Junk mail filter to the Mac’s Mail app. The same feature should be available for Mail on iPhone and iPad. But no matter because it doesn’t work very well, and even if it did you still have the trouble of digging through the Junk mail folder just to be sure a good message didn’t get stuck there.
My solution is multi-fold but helps out with iPhone and iPad Mail apps, too. First, I control all my email accounts on my own server and use Apache’s SpamAssassin app which traps and marks spam at the server level before it gets to the Mac. I’ve used it for years to help combat a growing spam problem that hits 500 to 700 unwanted email messages per day. That’s per day.
Second, my Mac is home to the add-on SpamSieve app for Mail (also works with many other Mac email apps; including IMAP and Exchange). Simply put, this app works better than SpamAssassin, and unlike the Junk mail filter in OS X’s Mail, it gets better over time. There’s a training process that is required to get started with SpamSieve but it’s rather simple to setup and use.
SpamSieve uses a whitelist of email addresses for messages you want to receive (also based upon email addresses in Contacts). It uses a blacklist (actually called a Blocklist) to prevent specific addresses from getting to your Mail’s inbox. And, importantly, it actually examines incoming messages to determine which are spam and which are legitimate and SpamSieve is very good at that. Spam messages are color coded so you can see the degree of spaminess (that’s not a word, but you get the idea, right). It even examines encoded email and attachments.
Teaching SpamSieve to get started blocking spam is easy enough. Just select messages you identify as spam or unwanted, and select Train as Spam from the pull down menu in Mail. The app learns over time and gets better.
What about iPhone and iPad?
I keep most of the same email accounts on each device, but while the Mac is running it captures incoming messages in Mail, and SpamSieve segregates the spam. If your email accounts are IMAP, the offending and unwanted messages are stored in a separate folder on your Mac and that keeps them off your iPhone and iPad, too.
SpamSieve has plenty of Preference settings so walk through them to familiarize yourself, but it works fine right out of the box, so to speak.
If there’s a better way to deal with spam– other than not using email– I don’t know what it is.