Dealing with Unwanted e-mail

 by Allan J. Greenberg

Isn't it enough that have to deal with unwanted mail and unwanted phone calls, now we have to deal with unwanted e-mail (sometimes called spam or junk mail). Well, the good news is that we don't have to deal with unwanted e-mail.

One way to get rid of unwanted e-mail messages is to "filter" them out. By filtering, I mean telling your e-mail program what mail you would like sent to the trash. The exact method of telling your e-mail program what mail you wish to delete, depends on what you use to receive your e-mail. Some people use a "client" based (POP3 based) e-mail program like Outlook or Outlook Express. Some people use Web based e-mail like Yahoo or Hotmail. Some people use propriety e-mail like America Online or Juno. Most e-mail applications allow the user to set up "filters" to deal with unwanted e-mail messages.

With Outlook Express, the user can set up filters by clicking on the Message menu and then clicking on either Create Rule from Message… or Block Sender… commands. The first command (Create Rule from Message…) allows the user to specify a word or phrase to look for in the subject or body of the e-mail message. If the word or phrase is found by Outlook Express when the message is being downloaded, Outlook Express will take an action which the user specifies, normally sending the message to the Deleted Items folder. The second command (Block Sender…) allows the user to specify that messages received from a certain sender (specified by the sender's e-mail address) should be sent to the Deleted Items folder also.

Web based e-mail applications such as Yahoo e-mail also offers filters. You can find the Web page to set filters with Yahoo by clicking on the Mail Options link on the Yahoo Mail page. In the Management section of the Mail Options page, you will see links to Block Addresses and Filters. These management features are similar to the ones mentioned in Outlook Express.

If you use client based (POP3 based) e-mail programs like Outlook or Outlook Express, you may want to try a free program called MailWasher. The newer version of MailWasher should work with MSN and Hotmail, according to the product manufacturer. The author of this article has been using it and finds it easy to use and effective. After downloading and installing MailWasher, you need to set up an account (or set accounts) that you want MailWasher to check. For this, you will need to know your e-mail Incoming and Outgoing server names. You can find these names in the Tools menu and Accounts command of Outlook Express. Write down the POP3 and SMTP server names in the Properties window and Server tab. MailWasher also needs your e-mail address and password entered in the appropriate place.

To use MailWasher, connect to your ISP and then start MailWasher. MailWasher will go to your ISP e-mail server and download just the sender's address and subject line. From this information, MailWasher can determine, in most cases, if the e-mail is "normal" or "junk". For "junk" mail, you can delete the message, bounce the message or blacklist the message. For known junk e-mail, MailWasher suggests the operation to perform. When you click on the Process Mail button, MailWasher can delete, bounce and blacklist the junk e-mail message at the server.

What is nice about MailWasher is that e-mail messages do not have to be downloaded to your computer before taking appropriate action. If an e-mail message is unwanted, it can be deleted, bounced at the server. This saves you the need and time to download unwanted e-mail. After Processing Mail, you will only download the e-mail that you want. Clicking on the Mail Program button starts your e-mail program (Outlook, Outlook Express, MSN or Hotmail) and downloads only the e-mail that you want to receive.