Dealing With Spam in Gmail

Gmail is fairly good at catching spam as it arrives in your inbox and will generally move it to a dedicated spam folder automatically. If you find that spam emails are still getting through the built in filters and being displayed with your other emails, you can do several things to improve detection and removal of these unwanted messages.

Report and Remove Gmail Spam

Removing spam from your inbox is easy. Select the one or more messages in your inbox email list using the checkbox, and then click the “Spam” button that appears at the top. Or you can click on the message you want to remove and look for the “Spam” button above the message box. Clicking this will remove the spam message and report it to Google.

Marking messages as spam, rather than just deleting them, helps Gmail to learn which messages should be automatically blocked in the future.

If you want to remove the spam that is collecting in the spam mailbox (the spam mailbox will only appear in your labels when spam has been detected and moved into it), click the mailbox and then click “Delete all spam messages now”. Any messages in the spam folder older than 30 days will automatically be deleted.

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If you see a message in the spam mailbox which has been moved there incorrectly (i.e. it is not spam), you can correct the mistake by selecting it and clicking “Not Spam” from the options the appear above it.

Unsubscribe

If you are receiving a load of email newsletters that you never read, that just fill up your inbox, or just cause your phone notifications to go off every ten minutes, the easiest way to get rid of them is to just unsubscribe. Most email newsletters will have a link at the bottom allowing you to do this quickly and easily.

Protect Your Email Address

One of the very best ways of ensuring that spam does not become the bane of your life is to protect your email at all times. Entering your email address into websites that you don’t fully trust, or posting the address on blogs and forums will almost certainly lead to a whole heap of spam heading your way. Automated software (bots) can scan through millions of web pages to find email addresses, which are then used by spammers to flood your inbox with unwanted emails.

If you do need to write your email on a blog or forum (in the signature for example), write it in a way that a non-human reader would not understand. For example, you could write it as john dot doe at gmail dot com (instead of john.doe@gmail.com). A human should understand how to write that email address properly.

Creating Message Filters

Another way to deal with unwanted emails, particularly if you are getting lots of emails from one particular email address, is to set up filters.

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Step 1 – Open the inbox and find a message from the contact you want to filter. Click on the message to open it. Click on the More button to the right of the buttons above the message, and select Filter Messages Like This from the menu.

Step 2 – In the box that appears, the email address of the sender will be automatically entered. You can add extra triggers to the filter such as certain words or recipient address. Next, click Create filter with this search.

Step 3 – You can now decide what to do with messages that trigger this filter. There are numerous options, and not just options for spam messages. But for the purpose of this guide, choose Delete it. Click Create Filter to finish.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is the process of trying to find private information such as PIN numbers, passwords and user names by trickery. Sometimes spammers create fake websites that look like, for example, the a well known banks’ login page. You will then get an email pertaining to be from that bank, asking you to confirm your login or change some settings by clicking a link to the fake website. When you enter your email and password on one of these pages, the spammer records your information and keeps it.

Remember that banks or credit card companies will never ask you to email them your password or click on links in emails. If you are in any doubt as to the legitimacy of a email and the links within, the first thing to check is the link. Without clicking it, roll your mouse pointer over the link and look at the information that appears at the bottom of the browser window. This will show you the actual link address, letting you check if it looks ok. If you really want to check your online bank, open a new browser window and navigate to your banks’ page normally.

If the message seems like an attempt to get your personal information, click Report Phishing from the message options menu (arrow to the right of the Reply button) to help Gmail and Google learn from such attempts.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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