by Svetlana Cheusheva, updated on
This article explains how to configure Junk Mail Filter settings in Outlook 365- 2010 to effectively combat spam.
Email is a crucial communication tool in our daily lives, but unfortunately, it is also a prime target for spammers. Spam emails can be annoying, time-consuming, and harmful. As long as junk emails remain even slightly effective (0.0001%), spam will continue to flood inboxes in massive quantities. Regrettably, the email protocol was created without considering the possibility of sending unsolicited emails, leading to the absence of a 100% protection mechanism. Although it's impossible to eliminate spam completely, you can surely reduce its impact by automatically filtering most unwanted emails to the Outlook spam folder. This will turn a torrent of junk into a manageable trickle.
Fortunately, Outlook provides various tools and techniques to help you fight spam. If you're working in a corporate environment, it's likely that your Exchange server has an anti-spam filter to block unwanted emails. However, for your personal computer, it's up to you to set up your own filter. This article aims to guide you in configuring your Outlook spam filter effectively to block as much junk email as possible.
Before delving into setting up the Outlook Junk Mail filter, it's important to have a basic understanding of how it works. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
The Outlook Junk Email Filter automatically scans your incoming emails, but you can adjust its settings to provide the filter with guidance on what to identify as spam. In the below instructions, we'll use Outlook 365, but the settings are essentially the same in all versions of Outlook 2010 - 2021, so you won't have any problems with following.
Note. As each email account has its own Junk Mail settings, be sure to switch to the target account before configuring the junk mail settings.
To enable the Outlook spam filter, carry out these steps:
By clicking on the links above, you'll be taken to the section that has all the juicy details about each step.
To get to the Outlook junk email settings, on the Home tab, in the Delete group, click Junk > Junk E-mail Options…
This opens the Junk E-mail Options dialog box, which is divided into 5 tabs that control various aspects of spam protection. Let's take a brief look at each tab and focus on the essential settings.
On the Options tab, you choose the desired level of spam protection:
Besides the protection levels, two more options are available to you:
Tips and notes:
Using the Safe Senders and Safe Recipients tabs, you can add specific email addresses or domain names to the Safe lists. E-mail messages from anyone on these lists will never be considered spam regardless of their content.
Safe Senders List - allows you to mark email addresses and domain names as safe, preventing them from being treated as junk irrespective of the message content. However, safe domains are not automatically recognized in Exchange Online. The Safe Sender list is limited to 1024 items.
Safe Recipients List - allows you to mark mailing and distribution list senders as safe.
To add someone to your safe list, click the Add button in the right-hand part of the window, and then type an e-mail address or domain name in the pop-up dialog box.
Tips and notes:
On the Blocked Senders tab, you can see email addresses that are already blocked, add more senders to the list or unblock a particular sender. All messages from blocked senders are considered spam and automatically moved to the Junk folder.
To block a sender, click the Add button, and then type an e-mail address or domain name in the pop-up dialog box.
To unblock a sender, select it in the list and click the Remove button.
Tip. Another quick way to block a specific spammer is to right-click the message and choose Junk > Block Sender from the context menu.
Spammers often use domains from obscure regions where domain registration is cheap. On the International tab, you can mark certain country domains as spam to stop receiving unsolicited email in foreign languages that you don't know.
This tab provides the following two options:
Blocked Top-Level Domains List. Use this option to block emails from specific countries or regions. For example, if you select IN (India) in the list, you will stop receiving any messages from the .in domain. However, this option may not be effective against junk emails sent from popular email services like Gmail or Outlook.com.
Blocked Encodings List. Use this option to eliminate unwanted e-mail in a specific language encoding.
Note. Messages that have unknown or unspecified encodings will be filtered by the Junk E-mail Filter in the usual way.
If you are using Outlook 365 as a web application (Outlook Online), then you can change junk mail settings by following these steps:
While it may seem that adding unwanted senders to the Blocked list is the easiest solution to prevent spam, this method is not very effective for several reasons:
Considering the above, the most effective approach is to keep your spam filter lists as short as possible.
However, if you are inundated with an overwhelming number of unwanted emails, you may wonder what you should do. In case numerous spam messages are sent from a particular domain, it makes sense to add it to your Blocked Senders list. To block the entire domain, there is no need to enter sub-domains or use wild characters. You can ban the whole domain by simply entering @spam-domain.com, and this will stop all junk mail coming from that domain.
Tip. Spammers are sneaky and usually send those annoying unsolicited emails from fake addresses that look nothing like the one in the From field. But don't worry, you can try to uncover the real sender's address by taking a peek at the internet headers of a message.
Although most spam is easily identifiable, some spammers carefully study Microsoft's junk mail filter technology to improve their strategies. On the other hand, Microsoft works hard to combat spam and regularly updates their filter to reduce junk email. Therefore, it is advisable to update Outlook regularly to ensure the latest version of the filter is installed.
To enable automatic updates in Outlook, follow these steps:
Tip. Additionally, you can receive updates for all Microsoft products when you update Windows. For this, click Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options, and then toggle on the Receive updates for all Microsoft products when you update Windows option.
Even if you have the latest version of the junk mail filter, some spam emails may still end up in your inbox. You can assist Microsoft in enhancing the efficiency of their junk email filtering technologies by reporting such messages to them.
Currently, the inbuilt Report button is only available in Outlook on the web (OWA). To report spam to Microsoft, here's what you do:
In desktop Outlook, there is no built-in Report button. As an alternative, you can use free Microsoft Report Message and Report Phishing add-ins. Or you can submit a report through the Microsoft 365 Defender portal.
Legitimate emails can sometimes be mistaken as spam and moved to the Junk folder. It is important to remember to check this folder occasionally, as no filter is perfect. If you set your Outlook spam filter to the High level to prevent as much junk mail as possible, it is recommended to check your spam folder frequently. Checking it at the end of your workday is a good practice to ensure that you have covered everything.
If a legitimate message appears among junk emails, you can mark it as not junk in this way:
Clicking Never Block Sender or Never Block Sender's Domain will add the sender's address or domain name to your Safe Senders list, so the Outlook spam filter won't make the same mistake again.
Choosing Not Junk will move the message to your Inbox. Additionally, you can select the Always trust e-mail from… option to add that email address to the Safe Senders list.
If you do not wish to add a specific sender to your safe list, you can simply drag a misidentified junk message to any other folder using the mouse.
Note. Emails classified as spam and moved to the Junk folder are automatically converted to plain text format with any links disabled. When you move a message out of the spam folder, its links will be re-enabled and the original message format restored, unless the Junk E-mail filter identifies the links as suspicious. In such cases, even if you move the message out of the Junk folder, the links will remain disabled by default.
To turn off Outlook's junk mail filter, this is what you need to do:
In conclusion, spam emails can be frustrating and time-consuming to deal with, but by implementing these tips and tricks, you can successfully prevent them from infiltrating your Outlook inbox. Remember to regularly update your spam filter, block malicious domains, and always be cautious of suspicious emails. With a bit of effort and know-how, you can take control of your email and make sure that only the messages you want are making it to your inbox. Happy emailing!
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