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Learn how to prevent junk from filling your inbox in Mail

Stop SPAM and junk mail on your Mac by following this tutorial where we demonstrate how to configure Mail’s junk mail filter for maximum effectiveness.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Sidebar
Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Main
Unwanted, or junk email is one of the scourges of the modern world, with an estimated 15 billion spam messages sent globally per day.
As the problem has worsened over the years, so ever more sophisticated solutions for blocking and filtering spam have evolved. Now, the junk mail filter in Apple’s OS X Mail offers an effective defence against requests for help with money transfers from overseas dignitaries or unsolicited offers of pharmaceuticals at knockdown prices.

Junk Mail filters of the type used in Mail work by learning to weed out unwanted messages after prompting the user to initially identify which messages are junk and which are genuine. After a while, they get to know for themselves what’s what and can function pretty much on their own, but their behaviour can still be fine-tuned. Here’s our simple guide to keeping your inbox spam-free.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step by Step

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 1

Step 1: Open Preferences

Launch Mail and choose File>Preferences to access the Preferences pane. Click Junk Mail and ensure the Enable junk mail filtering checkbox is ticked.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 2

Step 2: Training mode

You’ll need to keep tabs on what Mail is identifying as Junk Mail. To do this, select the Mark as junk mail, but leave it in my Inbox button.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 3

Step 3: Switch to auto

Once you’re sure you can trust the filter to accurately identify Junk Mail, select Move it to the Junk mailbox. This should now filter junk automatically.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 4

Step 4: Action stations

To tweak the filter settings manually, or block messages from specific domains or senders, select Perform custom actions, and then hit Advanced.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 5

Step 5: Conditions apply

A default set of Junk Mail conditions appear. Choose whether ‘all’ or ‘any’ of these apply, then click an Add (+) button to add your own conditions.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 6

Step 6: On the menu

The first pop-up contains a list of an email’s possible attributes to target. If you want to identify messages from a certain sender as junk, select From.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 7

Step 7: Call the operator

The middle pop-up contains operators such as Contains, Is equal to, Begins with etc. For our example, we’ll leave this option set to Contains.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 8

Step 8: Enter text

Use the box on the right to enter specific text, such as the email address or domain of the sender you’re identifying as the source of junk messages.

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Step 9

Step 9: Select action

Use the lower panel to select the action to perform when the conditions are fulfilled. Here, every new message from this sender will be moved to Junk.

(Click on the image below to zoom in and view the annotations)

Mail tutorial - Junk mail - Annotated