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Controlling Junk Email

Junk email is a broad term covering advertising emails, unsolicited bulk emails, spam, or just about anything sent to your email address without your consent. Billions of spam emails are sent daily, and they’re not always just about advertising something. Spam email can also be criminal in nature, generated by hackers and “phishers” trying to steal your identity or personal information for nefarious reasons. Thwarting junk email from reaching your Inbox requires some filtering on Outlook’s part. Although it can’t catch everything all the time, Outlook’s filtering tools do a pretty good job of sorting out the bad stuff and placing it in a special folder marked for such unworthy messages.

You can even fine-tune the sensitivity settings to low or high to suit your needs. Choose from the following options:

  • No Automatic Filtering—This setting means there’s no filtering happening at all. Junk mail can flow freely into your Inbox.
  • Low—Some junk mail still gets through, but the worst of it is tossed away.
  • High—The most ruthless setting; nothing gets through, sometimes not even legitimate emails (be sure to check the Junk E-mail folder periodically to see if anything important gets tossed in by mistake).
  • Safe Lists Only—This setting allows only emails from specified companies and individuals (from your safe recipients list) to make it into your Inbox. You have to identify senders first in a special Safe Senders list (sort of like a guest list for your email, and only the invitees make it into the party).

In addition to setting a filtering level, you can also choose to go ahead and permanently delete junk email when it’s found, disable links in suspected phishing messages, or display a warning prompt for suspicious domain names for a heads up.

To adjust your junk mail settings, follow these steps:

  1. From the Mail module, click the Home tab. If you have more than one email service, select the account’s Inbox first.
  2. Click the Junk drop-down arrow, shown in Figure 5.13.

    FIGURE 5.13

    FIGURE 5.13 Look for the Junk drop-down menu on the Home tab.

  3. Click Junk E-mail Options. The Junk E-mail Options dialog box opens to the Options tab, as shown in Figure 5.14.

    FIGURE 5.14

    FIGURE 5.14 Set any junk email protection levels in this dialog box.

  4. Click a protection level.
  5. Click OK.

You can also help Outlook identify junk email by pointing it out when you find it in your Inbox. Right-click the icky message from the list, click Junk, then choose the Block Sender option.

If you find the filter dumping legitimate messages into the Junk E-mail folder, display the folder’s contents (click the folder name in the Folder pane), right-click the message from the list, and choose Never Block Sender or Not Junk (see Figure 5.15).


FIGURE 5.15 Un-junk a legitimate message using the right-click menu.

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