Monday, June 2, 2008

POP Gmail and Spam Filters

GMail has pretty nifty Spam filters that block most Spam from reaching your account. While they usually have few false positive, they do have a disadvantage that I discovered a few weeks ago: if you are used to POPing your GMail account, you will find that GMail does not provide you with a way to POP messages marked as spam. Since messages in the Spam folder are deleted every 30 days, you have to log in once every 30 days to the web UI or you may lose important messages. This of course is annoying.

The solution: well there is no perfect solution to this. Google currently does not allow you to shut down Spam filering. The simplest thing to do if you find messages going to spam is to import your address book into GMail so that your contacts' mail no longer gets marked spam. If that is not sufficient, the only other thing you can do is use the advanced search capability of GMail to create a filter which forwards all Spam to another mail account. Create a new filter, in the "Has The Words" field, put in "is:spam." Ignore GMail's warning and click next. After this any spam which arrives should get forwarded to your alternate mail id...

On a side note, an interesting feature in GMail is the ability to create on the fly EMail aliases. Most people know that GMail will ignore . characters in the mail ID. So abc@gmail.com is same as a.b.c@gmail.com. What is interesting is that GMail is one of the few mail providers to support the + character. This means that anything after + in the mail ID is simply ignored. abc@gmail.com is same as abc+def@gmail.com; a mail sent to abc+def.ghi@gmail.com will arrive to abc@gmail.com's inbox. Hereafter filters applied to the To field can easily sort out the mail. Another nice use is to create an alias for each site that asks for your mail ID. This way you can easily see which sites are providing your mail ID to spammers :)

By the way, if you are thinking to combine this with the filter for spam (lets say if you want to forward mails from one GMail account to another, or, like me, from Apps For Your Domain to your regular mail ID) Be warned, GMail does not allow filtering on the ID to which an EMail was auto-forwarded. It always filters on the original ID to which the mail was sent. So if you have multiple mail aliases in the original account, you will have to configure multiple aliases in the target too...
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