How to Create a Junk Mail Filter - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Nearly all email programs feature a standard message-filtering system. You use this system to organize your email, such as by transferring business messages into a Work mailbox, but you can also use the filters to help fight spam.

A junk mail filter works simply: Identify junk email by its sender or Subject line, and then either delete the message or move it into a Junk mailbox. Here’s how to implement such a thing in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail, or Outlook Express:

  1. Open the piece of junk email.

  2. Open the Create Rule from Message window.

    • In Windows Live Mail, choose Actions→Create Rule from Message.

    • In Windows Mail and Outlook Express, choose Message→Create Rule from Message.

    The New Mail Rule dialog box appears. There are four parts of the dialog box, just as there are four steps to creating a mail rule. Start in Area 1.


  3. To filter a message by subject, choose Where the Subject Line Contains Specific Words; to filter a message by sender, choose Where the From Line Contains People.

    Suppose that you keep receiving email from a certain outfit that tries to connect you with old friends from high school. Because the site won’t unsubscribe you, you decide to filter its messages. The best way to do it is to filter by the From line. On the other hand, if you want to remove messages with the words oil change in them, filter by subject.

    Next comes the action, set in Area 2.

  4. Select the Move It to the Specified Folder check box.

    Or, if you want to be vicious, you can choose Delete It. But the idea here is to filter junk, not just delete it outright.

    In Area 3, you refine the rules by choosing specific parameters.

  5. In Area 3, click the specified link to replace its text with the name of a specific folder.

    A Move dialog box appears, listing the mailbox folders used by your email program. If you don’t see them, click the plus sign (+) by the item Local Folders.

  6. Choose the Junk E-Mail folder from the list in the Move box.

    If you don’t see the Junk E-Mail folder there, click the New Folder button to create it. Name the new folder Junk E-Mail; click OK to create it.

  7. Click OK.

  8. In the Name of the Rule box, type a descriptive name for the rule.

    For example, type Annoying High School Contact Junk Mail Rule for filtering email from a website that promotes contacting old friends but gives you no way to unsubscribe from the service.

  9. Click Save Rule or OK to create the rule.

  10. Click OK to confirm that you know you created the rule.

Creating the rule may not instantly filter the Inbox; you still have to manually drag a junk message to the Junk E-Mail folder. But any new mail that arrives will fall victim to your mail rule, helping keep this type of message out of the inbox.

  • You might consider not using the full message subject, as shown in Area 3. Sometimes, setting the subject to include only a keyword, like porn or mortgage, is enough to filter out the unwanted.

  • The idea behind junking a message instead of deleting it is to ensure that you can rescue it out of the Junk E-Mail folder false positives. These messages are flagged as junk but may not be junk. When you delete a potential junk message, you run the risk of having it purged from the Deleted Items folder before you have a chance to review it.

  • Check the Junk E-Mail folder from time to time to ensure that your rules are doing their job. If not, edit the rule!