How To Set Up an Apple Mail Spam Filter

To prevent important emails from disappearing under a pile of junk, it’s useful to learn how to use the built-in Apple Mail filter. Alternatively, you can equip yourself with a third-party inbox cleaner like Clean Email, and we describe both approaches in this

Apple Mail Spam Filter Can Save Your Inbox

Spam is a huge issue, affecting virtually all email users—not just those that use Apple Mail. It may sound almost unbelievable, but around 320 billion spam emails are sent every day, many of them delivering malware or phishing (a type of social engineering attack often used to steal user data) for sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details.

Email filtering is one of the best ways to protect your inbox against spam, but what is email filtering really? Well, it’s the practice of automatically sorting out messages based on their content and sender information.

Sounds great! But does Apple Mail have a spam filter? It is pretty straightforward because the email client comes with built-in email filtering capabilities. So, yes, Apple Mail does have an email filter for junk emails. What’s more, you can always take advantage of third-party email filtering solutions to make your life just a bit easier.

Turn on the Junk Email Filter in Apple Mail

The email client features a fairly capable junk email filter whose purpose is to prevent spam from ending up in your inbox, where you are more likely to open it. It should be turned on by default, but if the Apple Mail junk filter is not working for some reason, then you need to do the following:

  1. Open the Mail menu and select Settings (in macOS Ventura) or Preferences (in earlier macOS versions).
  2. Navigate to the Junk Mail tab.
  3. Make sure the Enable junk mail filtering has a checkmark next to it.

Now that the Apple Mail junk filter is turned on, you have several settings that you can play with to modify its behavior according to your preferences.

When a junk message arrives, you can:

  • Mark it as junk mail, but leave it in my inbox: It’s handy when you want to label a message as junk quickly but still want to check it later. It lets you flag potential spam for further review without cluttering your inbox.
  • Move it to the Junk mailbox: It’s perfect if you trust Apple Mail's filter. It swiftly moves unwanted emails to a separate Junk mailbox, keeping your inbox clean and making it easy to spot spam.
  • Perform custom actions: If you decide to pick the last option, then click the Advanced button to configure the action (or a series of actions) you want to perform when a spam email arrives in your inbox.

Apple Mail also lets you exempt certain types of messages from junk mail filtering, including messages whose senders are in your contacts, previous recipients of your emails, and those that address you using your full name.

Deal With Spam Messages Faster and Easier with Clean Email

The Apple Mail Junk filter might miss some junk emails, and that's where Clean Email comes in handy.

Clean Email, an email organizing tool, simplifies your inbox management by letting you create spam filter rules. This automatically directs certain emails to a designated Spam folder.

Create Auto Clean rule in Clean EmailCreate Auto Clean rule in Clean Email

Smart Folders further enhance sorting, automatically categorizing emails into 33 predefined folders. This makes it easy to find emails related to topics like Shopping, Finance and insurance, Unusual senders, Dating apps, and others.

Smart Folders feature in Clean EmailSmart Folders feature in Clean Email

With your emails grouped in Smart Folders, you can efficiently manage them all at once. Just select a folder and take action on all existing and incoming emails, as they're already grouped by sender.

Whether you get a lot of unwanted emails from new senders, enable the Screener feature - it quarantines messages from first-time senders, allowing you to review them without cluttering your inbox.

Stop spam emails with Screener feature in Clean EmailStop spam emails with Screener feature in Clean Email

In the Screener tab, you have the option to either block or approve each sender: blocking prevents future messages, while approving grants them direct access to your inbox.

The Auto Clean feature of Clean Email allows you to set up rules that automatically apply specific actions to emails based on customized criteria. This tool is designed to help keep your email inbox organized without the need for manual sorting, by automatically processing emails as they arrive based on the rules you create.

Auto Clean feature with Clean EmailAuto Clean feature with Clean Email

Moreover, the Unsubscriber tool enables users to easily manage and unsubscribe from all unwanted emails and subscriptions. If the sender ignores the unsubscribe request, this tool ensures that emails from this sender are automatically moved to the trash, preventing your inbox from cluttering.

Unsubscribe from emails with Clean EmailUnsubscribe from emails with Clean Email

Additionally, you can pause receiving messages from specific senders temporarily without unsubscribing. Unsubscribing actions can be managed individually or in bulk, enhancing user control over their email preferences.

Whether you need to mark emails as spam, unsubscribe, or set up an Auto Clean filter, you can do it seamlessly from anywhere within the Clean Email interface.

The Privacy Monitor feature offers a unique service that's not typically found with mainstream email providers. Given how frequent data breaches are across various platforms—from banks to retail stores—it’s virtually impossible to manually monitor the security of your email account.

That's where Clean Email's Privacy Monitor steps in. Think of it as your personal email watchdog, constantly scanning for known breaches or security issues and alerting you if your information is at risk. This ensures you're always one step ahead in protecting your data.

Privacy Monitor feature in Clean EmailPrivacy Monitor feature in Clean Email

If it detects a threat, Clean Email offers actionable advice, such as changing your passwords or enabling additional security features. This way, you're always equipped to handle potential threats to your data and identity.

To begin using Clean Email for free, simply sign in with your email address and the current password for your mailbox. The service also offers dedicated apps for iOS and Android, ensuring a smooth email experience across mobile devices.

How to Move An Email From Junk Back To Inbox

Sometimes, important messages may mistakenly land in the Junk folder. Check your Junk folder in the Apple Mail app, and if you find a message that belongs in your inbox or another folder, simply move it to the appropriate location.

Here is how to do it: when you find an email that isn’t spam, right-click on your mouse or two-finger-tap on the touchpad of your macOS device, and choose Move to Inbox.

Filter Emails in the Mail on Mac

The simplest use of email filters is to display only certain messages in Apple Mail, such as those that include attachments or those that came from VIP senders.

First, you need to turn on filters:

  1. Launch the Apple Mail app.
  2. Click the Filter button at the top of the message list.
  3. Choose Enable Message Filter from the menu that appears.

Then, set your filter:

  1. Click the Filter button again.
  2. Choose a filter from the menu that appears.

To turn off email filters, simply click the Filter button and choose the Disable Message Filter option.

How to Use Rules to Filter Emails You Receive in Apple Mail on Mac

If you want to find out how to filter not only spam email messages but legitimate emails from people you trust, use the rules in Apple Mail.

What are inbox rules? Basically, inbox rules are predefined actions that are automatically executed upon the arrival of a message that matches certain conditions. You can use inbox rules to move messages to specific folders, mark messages as read, or even run AppleScript to do all kinds of wild things.

Best of all, creating a new inbox rule is simple:

  1. Open the Mac Mail menu and select Settings.
  2. Navigate to the Rules tab.
  3. Click Add Rule.
  4. Give the new rule a descriptive name and specify the conditions that have to be met for the rule to trigger and the actions that will be executed.
  5. Click OK to confirm.

Mark an Email From an Unknown Sender With a Background

For example, you may mark emails from new senders not in your contact list with a red background. To set up this filter, choose Sender is not in my contacts, then perform the action Set Colour - Background - Red. Click OK, and you're all set.

Quick Overview of Apple Mail Rules

The simplest filters involve moving email messages from a specific sender directly from the Inbox to another folder.

Additionally, you can employ a wide range of conditions to establish rules for managing emails in Apple Mail.

Delete, Duplicate, or Edit Rules in Apple Mail

Easily manage your inbox rules through the Rules tab under Settings, where you can delete, duplicate, or edit rules.

Filter Emails in Apple Mail on iPhone

The iOS version of this email client includes a basic iPhone email filter that you can use to temporarily show only certain messages, such as messages with attachments or messages that you haven’t read yet. Here’s the guide on how to use the iPhone email filter.

Choosing a Third-Party App to Filter Emails

As you can see, filtering emails in Apple Mail on macOS and iOS isn’t all that difficult, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be even easier. Using a third-party email filtering service, you can quickly automate your inbox management to keep Apple Mail—or any other email client for that matter—clean and organized.

When selecting a third-party email filter service, pay attention to the following:

  • Usability: To make your life easier, the service should be easy to use and understand.
  • Features: The best email filter services can do more than automatically move messages. For example, they can unsubscribe you from unwanted newsletters and block annoying senders.
  • Security: Your inbox contains a lot of sensitive information, so you don’t want someone who isn’t trustworthy to access it.
  • Compatibility: Ideally, if you have several mail accounts, the service of your choice should be used not only as an Apple Mail filter but also as a Gmail spam filter, Hotmail spam filter, and more.
  • Price: A third-party email filter service is a smart investment because it can save you a lot of time, but it should do so without breaking the bank.

How to Filter Emails in Apple Mail - FAQs

How do I filter emails in Apple Mail?

You can filter emails in Apple Mail using its built-in email filter or with the help of a third-party email filtering service like Clean Email.

How do I make emails go to a specific folder in Apple Mail?

You can move emails to a specific folder in Apple Mail by creating a suitable rule:
1. Open the Mac Mail menu and select Settings.
2. Navigate to the Rules tab.
3. Click Add Rule.
4. Configure the new rule and click OK to confirm.

Can you set up email rules on iPhone?

You can, but not by using the Mail app. To set up email rules on iPhone, you need a third-party inbox management app like Clean Email, which makes it easy to automate repetitive email tasks.

How do I stop mail from going to junk in Apple Mail?

If you want to stop mail from going to junk, then you can turn off the built-in junk filter:
1. Open the Mac Mail menu and select Settings.
2. Navigate to the Junk Mail tab.
3. Make sure the Enable junk mail filtering doesn’t have a checkmark next to it.

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