This week’s article is based on a question from Dean Roope who asks, “How can I block all unwanted emails. I use outlook express …?” This a very good question which deserves some attention. First let me say this. You best bet is to use an email client other than Outlook Express (OE). The one I recommend and use on a daily basis is Mozilla Thunderbird(TB). You can find it at Unfortunately, there isn’t either built-in or a good free ad-in that will perform Spam filtering in OE, to my knowledge. So, while you may be attached or accustomed to OE, my suggestion is to switch to the free email client with built in Spam filtering, Thunderbird.

When you first run TB it will ask you if you want to import mail and address, and from where. If you have settings in OE go ahead and import them into TB. The setup of mail accounts can be found under Tools->Account Settings. Once all of this is configured, if it wasn’t imported, then you can set up Spam filtering. You can find it under Tools->Junk Mail Controls. The first thing you want to do is click the “Adaptive Filter” tab and check the “Enable adaptive junk mail detection” check box. The go back to the “Settings” tab and chose how you want it to treat junk mail. You can specify a folder to drop Spam into and weather it not it will display HTML embedded inside of emails thought to be Spam. It’s best to check the box that sanitizes the HTML. This will decrease the likely hood that a Spammer can confirm that you’re email address is valid and that someone reads the emails sent to that account. Now just click “Ok”. Spam filtering is now enable and because you turned on “Adaptive Filtering”, the program will get smarter over time. All incoming email deemed to be Spam will be placed in the “Junk” folder. It’s a good idea to check the folder occasionally, especially the first week or two after install to see if it mistaken marked some email that you do in fact want to read. If this happens just highlight that specific email and click the column that has a header that looks like the NO symbol, you know like in Ghost Busters, it will appear as a trash can in the column if it is thought to be Spam. Once you click that column the trash can will disappear and will no longer be treated as Spam. The same is true if Spam is still making it’s way to you inbox. Click the junk (NO Symbol) and mark that message as junk with the trash can. The more you Spam you receive the faster it will learn and the better it will become at identifying Spam.

Thunderbird is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I know this doesn’t directly address your question, but at least to my knowledge there just isn’t a good way to manage Spam in OE. If you’re using Outlook though, there is similar Spam filtering capabilities available. If someone knows of a good, FREE Spam filtering ad-in for OE email me and let me know.

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This article was last updated on: 28 Dec 2005