Stopping the Flood of Outlook Spam Messages Once and for All
Outlook users have always dealt with spam because the Outlook spam filter isn't 100% reliable (no spam filter is).
But in February 2023, many Outlook users faced a surge in spam emails flooding their inboxes, as the email spam filter services seemed to be malfunctioning. Users have taken to social media and Microsoft Community's website to report this ongoing issue, which has been affecting them for months.
With this issue in mind, it is essential for users to find alternative ways to manage and mitigate spam. So, let's discuss how to effectively manage spam using Outlook spam filter and Clean Email's features, ensuring a cleaner and safer email experience.
How Does the Outlook Spam Filter Work?
Outlook spam filter, also known as the Junk Email Filter, is designed to help manage and reduce junk in your inbox. Although it doesn't stop the delivery of junk emails, it identifies potential spam and automatically moves them to the Junk Email folder. The filter evaluates incoming messages based on various factors, including the time the message was sent and its content.
To provide better control over spam management, Outlook offers Junk Email Filter Lists that allow users to customize their filtering preferences by creating Outlook rules. The Safe Senders list ensures emails from trusted contacts and domains are never treated as spam, while the Safe Recipients list prevents messages sent to specific email addresses or domain names from being marked as junk.
Conversely, the Blocked Senders list allows users to block messages from certain senders, moving incoming emails from these sources to the Junk Email folder. Additionally, the Blocked Top-Level Domains list enables users to block unwanted emails from specific countries or regions by adding their respective codes. Lastly, the Blocked Encodings list helps filter out emails that appear in undesired character sets or alphabets.
How to Customize the Outlook Spam Filter to Efficiently Manage Spam
If the Outlook spam filter isn't working as well as expected in its default settings, then it's time to customize it to better fit your needs and reduce the number of false positives (when legitimate emails get mistakenly labeled as spam) and false negatives (when junk messages are not detected and end up in the inbox).
💡 Note: The instructions below are intended for the Windows version of the Outlook client. Versions for other platforms don't offer the same comprehensive spam filter settings.
To customize spam filtering in Outlook, you first need to:
- Launch the desktop client for Windows.
- Click the Junk button in the Home tab.
- Select the Junk Email Options.
By default, the filter is turned on with a protection level set to No Automatic Filtering, which means that messages from blocked senders are moved to the Junk Email folder but nothing else is. You can change it to:
- Low (moves the most obvious junk email to the Junk Email folder).
- High (catches more junk messages but may also falsely flag legitimate emails).
- Safe Lists Only (only messages from people or domains on your Safe Senders list or Safe Recipients list are delivered to the inbox).
Once you've selected the desired level of junk email protection, it's time to customize your Microsoft Outlook spam filters.
We recommend you start with the Blocked Senders list because that's where you can tell Outlook which email address or domain names should always be treated as junk email.
To add a new email address or domain name to the Blocked Senders List:
- Click the Blocked Senders tab in the Junk Email Options window.
- Click the Add button. Enter the email address or domain name you want to block.
- Click OK. Click OK again to close the Junk Email Options window.
Next, you should tell the spam filter for Outlook which email address or domain names should never be treated as junk email, and you can do that by customizing the Safe Senders list:
- Click the Safe Senders tab in the Junk Email Options window.
- Click the Add button. Enter the email address or domain name you never want Outlook to treat as junk email.
- Click on OK, and then click on OK again.
Finally, you can also enter email addresses and domain names of recipients that you don't want to block. Typically, the Safe Recipients list is used for groups that you're a member of. To customize it:
- Click the Safe Recipients tab in the Junk Email Options window.
- Click the Add button. Input the email address or domain name that you always want Outlook to consider as non-junk email.
- Click OK, then press OK once more.
These basic spam filtering for Outlook settings can greatly increase the number of unwanted emails that are correctly marked as spam in Outlook, but there's no guarantee that they'll be enough. In such cases, consider using third-party tools like Clean Email's Screener to further enhance your spam protection and ensure a clutter-free inbox.
Defeat Outlook Spam Using Clean Email’s Screener Feature
When the built-in Outlook spam filter is not enough, turn to Clean Email’s Screener feature for an added layer of protection. Once enabled, Screener quarantines all messages from new senders, allowing you to review them before they land in your inbox. This makes it the best spam filter for Outlook for those who want to defeat unwanted messages once and for all.
To enable Clean Email’s Screener feature, you need to:
- Go to: https://app.clean.email/
- Log in with your email address.
- Select the Screener tool from the left pane.
- Click the Enable Screener button.
- Confirm that you understand how Screener works and click Continue.
- Customize Screener settings and click Enable Screener.
That's how to stop spam emails in Outlook in a few simple steps. Depending on how you configure Screener, you can screen messages with unsubscribe links, messages that have been sent to you automatically (like purchase receipts, reminders, and so on), as well as messages from new senders.
To take your Outlook inbox management to the next level, you can also use Clean Email’s Auto Clean to set up rules that automatically mark new messages as spam. To create an Auto Clean rule, navigate to the Auto Clean tab, click the Plus icon, and follow the instructions provided.
Screener and all other features Clean Email has to offer (such as Smart Folders, Action History Summary, and Cleaning Suggestions) are designed with your privacy and security in mind, and they can be readily accessed even from mobile devices.
💡 Note: While Outlook's desktop application allows users to access email addresses from different providers, Clean Email cannot modify messages and folders from these providers within the Outlook app. To fully benefit from Clean Email's features, log into each email account separately.
Outlook Junk Email Filter - FAQs
Is there a spam filter in Outlook?
Yes, Outlook has a built-in spam filter whose purpose is to automatically identify suspected emails and move them to the corresponding folder so users don't accidentally click on them and become victims of phishing or other types of scams.
How do I change my junk mail settings in Outlook?
To change your junk mail settings, you need to follow these steps:
1. Launch the desktop client and navigate to Home ➝ Junk.
2. Select the Junk Email Options and change your settings.
How do I stop getting so much spam in Outlook?
If your inbox resembles a junkyard, with way too many junk messages getting past the built-in spam filter, then you should consider using third-party tools like Clean Email. Its Auto Clean and Screener features help you manage your inbox more effectively by:
- automatically organizing, labeling, and cleaning up unwanted emails (Auto Clean)
- and intercepting all messages coming from new senders and keeping them quarantined for your review (Screener).
Why am I getting so much spam in my Outlook email?
There are several reasons why you might be getting so much spam sent to your email address, such as using your address in public forums, signing up for newsletters or promotions, or having your mail address exposed in a data breach.
Does Outlook 365 have a spam filter?
Yes, Outlook 365 has a spam filter that prevents inboxes from filling up with junk messages. Enterprise users can configure the filter by visiting the Microsoft 365 Defender portal and navigating to the Anti-spam policies page.
How can I customize Outlook.com spam filtering?
Outlook.com has its own spam filtering settings page, and this is how you can access it:
1. Log in to your inbox and click the Settings gear icon in the top-right corner.
2. Select the View all Outlook settings option. Navigate to Mail ➝ Junk email.
3. Customize your Outlook.com spam filtering settings.