How to deal with an over-zealous spam filter

By | February 27, 2023
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Thank you to everyone who joined one of our Made Simple courses over the last few weeks. The courses are now closed to new members, but I really hope you’re enjoying them and finding them useful.

This week, I wanted to remind you of a feature of email that’s really useful most of the time, but can be frustrating if you forget it’s there. And that’s the automatic spam filter…

Email programs and apps are very clever these days.  They have automatic systems to filter out all the rubbish that would otherwise end up in your inbox, so you don’t have to bother with it. In fact, a lot of scam and phishing emails get blocked long before you’d ever have the misfortune of seeing them.

And that’s great – but these automatic spam filters can get a bit over-enthusiastic sometimes.

If you’re buying something, signing up for something or maybe joining a club or society online, you’ll be sent various emails about it.  And while some of the confirmation emails from companies will get through to you, others will end up in your spam folder.  Particularly if they’re from a company you’ve never used before. I use the Outlook app on my phone, and its spam filter is annoyingly trigger-happy.

You can do things to help stop emails going in to spam – save the email address to your address book, or send an email to that email address yourself.  Those things often, but don’t always, work.

The best way to teach your spam filter to stop sending a particular set of emails to the spam folder is this:

  • Look in your spam folder for an email that has been put there by mistake.
  • Open it.
  • Look for three dots in the top corner of the email.  If you don’t have any dots, you might have three lines, or a little flag icon instead.
  • Click or tap on that and a menu will pop up – look for the option that says something like “Not Spam” or “Mark as Not Spam”. If you don’t have an option like that, look for “Move to Inbox” instead.

It’ll automatically move the email to your inbox, and “whitelist” that email address – so it won’t get marked as spam again.

It’s a good idea to check your spam or junk folder at least once a month to make sure nothing important has ended up in there by mistake – the emails in there usually get deleted after 30 days.  

But also remember that most of the emails in that folder will be there for a good reason.  Take care and keep your wits about you for scams and phishing emails. Don’t click on any links or open any attachments unless you’re absolutely certain of who they’re from.

“Focused or “Primary” inboxes can trip you up too

As well as the actual “spam” or “junk” folders, a lot of email apps also split your emails into ones they think you’ll want to read, and others that are less important. For example, in the Outlook app, you get a “Focused” inbox and an “Other” inbox.

If you’re waiting for a confirmation email (or any other email, for that matter), don’t forget to check “Other”, “Promotions” or whatever your “this is stuff we reckon is less important” folder is called.

That’s all from me for this week – all the best.

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