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Outlook 2003: Filtering Messages

Outlook 2003: Filtering Messages

The second you start using an e-mail address, you open yourself up to receive junk e-mail. And, often the junk e-mail messages you receive outnumber the legitimate messages.

About the Junk E-Mail Filter

Outlook 2003 has a built-in Junk E-Mail Filter that can weed out the most obvious spam messages and move them to a separate folder so they won’t clutter up your Inbox.

You don’t have to do anything in Outlook to start using the Junk E-Mail Filter. The Junk E-Mail Filter is turned on and set to a Low setting by default. At “Low,” the Junk E-Mail Filter can filter out the most obvious spam and move it to the Junk E-mail folder. This way, you still have the opportunity to browse through the messages in the event the Junk E-Mail Filter marked a legitimate message as junk.

Junk E-Mail Filter Lists

In addition to the default Junk E-Mail Filter settings, you have some control over which messages are considered legitimate (or safe) and which are not. It’s really just a matter of adding e-mail addresses to the appropriate lists and Outlook 2003 has five Junk E-Mail Filter lists.

  1. Safe Senders List
  3. Safe Recipients List
  5. Blocked Senders List

Safe Senders List

E-mail addresses from legitimate sources should be added to the Safe Senders list. This way, when an e-mail comes through from a person on the Safe Senders list, regardless of the time it was sent or the content of the message, Outlook will allow the message to go to your Inbox.

Figure 1. Safe Senders List Dialog Box

By default, any e-mail address listed in your Contacts is included in this list as long as you’ve checked the Also trust e-mail from my Contacts check box is selected on the Safe Senders list in the Junk E-Mail Options dialog box. This box is checked by default. You can also choose to add the e-mail addresses of people you send messages to by checking the Automatically add people I e-mail to the Safe Senders List check box. This check box is not checked by default.

Adding a Sender to the Safe Senders List
  1. Right-click the e-mail you want to mark as safe
  3. Choose Junk E-Mail from the Shortcut menu
  5. Choose Add Sender to Safe Senders List

Blocked Senders List

Illegitimate or spam messages can be easily blocked in much the same way that legitimate messages are marked as safe. When you add an e-mail to the Blocked Senders list, Outlook will automatically move a message that matches the added e-mail to the Junk E-Mail Folder regardless of the time it was sent or the content in the message.

Figure 2. Blocked Senders List Dialog Box

Adding a Sender to the Blocked Senders List
  1. Right-click the e-mail you want to mark as safe
  3. Choose Junk E-Mail from the Shortcut menu
  5. Choose Add Sender to Blocked Senders List

Reducing Spam

People ask me all the time how to stop Junk E-Mail from landing in their Inbox. The truth is, you really can’t stop it. But, you can take steps to minimize it.

  • Use the Junk E-Mail Filter

This feature is built-in and set up by default in Outlook 2003. You just have to be on top of sending every illegitimate message that comes through to your blocked senders list.

  • Don’t Use the Automatic Processing of Read & Delivery Receipts

In the Tracking Options Dialog Box (Tools: Options: E-Mail Options: Tracking Options), you can choose to never send a response which disables the automatic processing of Read & Delivery Receipts.

If you are running Outlook on a server, contact your e-mail administrator and ask them to turn off the delivery receipt. A delivery receipt, sent to a spammer, only verifies that the message hit a valid e-mail address – an e-mail address they can sell to other spammers.

  • Don’t Post Your E-Mail Address Everywhere

Spammers do something called “scraping” to search web pages for e-mail addresses. If you must place your e-mail address on a web page, add a space in the middle or, better yet, type your name with a hyperlink to your e-mail address. This way, you e-mail isn’t out there, typed in full and easy to copy.

  • Don’t Reply to Junk E-Mail

This one is HUGE. When you receive a spam message, DON’T REPLY! Don’t even click the unsubscribe link at the bottom. When you reply, even if it’s to unsubscribe to something you never subscribed to in the first place, you are only doing the spammers a favor – you’re verifying that they’ve hit a valid e-mail address that they can now sell to other spammers.

  • Don’t Send Personal Information Via E-Mail

Messages asking you for personal information often look legitimate and typically are not. When in doubt, don’t reply – call the company.

  • Don’t Send Chain E-Mails

People love these chain e-mails promising cool things if only you forward the message to 11 people in the next 11 minutes. These are ALWAYS fake. Nothing cool ever happens if you send the message to the appropriate number of people within the allotted time. However, what you’ve just done by forwarding that message on is placed your e-mail address out there for whoever receives that message after your friends and family forward it.