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A challenge we all face in dealing with our e-mail these days is handling junk e-mail or spam. You may have noticed the Junk E-mail folder that's here by default when you first open up Outlook. Outlook comes with a junk e-mail filtering tool, and it's turned on by default. To change your junk e-mail settings, go to the Tools menu, and choose Options. From the Preferences tab here in the E- mail section, click on the Junk E-mail button, and it's quite prominent because it's blue. Here's all of your Junk E-mail Options. Notice by default it's turned on, and the most obvious junk e-mail is moved to the Junk E-mail folder automatically.
If you like, you can turn it off, and have No Automatic Filtering. Now in this case, if you have somebody set up in your Blocked Senders list, it'll still put them in the Junk E-mail folder, but it won't do anything else. Only those in your Blocked Senders list would be put in the Junk E-mail folder. With the e-mail environment today, that's usually not a valid option. Although it's set to low by default, you can also set it to High, in which case more things will be classified as junk e-mail automatically. But you should check your Junk E-mail folder regularly for real message that you want to keep, so that you can move them back in to your Inbox, where appropriate.
In my experience, Low and High both will get some real messages and classify them as junk. So since you're going to have to be checking the Junk E-mail folder anyway, I recommend you set it to High at a minimum. You can go one step higher than that actually, and say "Only e-mail from my Safe List can come in." So only from senders I've deemed safe, e-mail that's sent to recipients I've deemed safe, or their entire domains will be put in my Inbox, and everything else will be classified as e-mail. Now by default, anyone in your Contacts database would also be classified as a safe sender, and those messages would stay in your Inbox.
You're going to have more things in your Junk E-mail box, at least initially this way, but it'll quickly allow you to build your list of safe recipients and senders so that you only get the e-mail you want. I'm going to set this back to High. There's some other options we can set here. There's an option to permanently delete suspected junk e-mails instead of just putting them in the Junk E-mail folder. Now for most of us, this isn't going to be a good option, because on the occasion where the Junk E-mail folder identifies a real message I want as junk and puts it in the folder, in this case it would just delete it altogether, and I'd never even know.
However, if you've been using Outlook for quite a while, and you've got your junk e-mail filter highly fine-tuned, you have your Safe Senders and Safe Recipients lists well built, and you almost never see anything that shouldn't be there in your Junk E-mail folder, then maybe you could turn that on. You have the option to Disable links and other functionality in phishing messages. This is turned on by default, and it is recommended. And that just means, if you get a message it classifies as junk, it might be a phishing message, which means it might be, for example from a scammer or spammer sent you e-mail that's designed to look like it comes from your bank in an effort to try and steal your personal information, will disable all the links.
Simply put, if it's in the Junk E-mail folder, the system is automatically, if this is checked off, going to disable all links and pictures and things like that in the e-mail messages, and that just makes good sense so that when you're looking at your junk e-mail to make sure it's all junk, you don't accidentally click on one of those links and cause yourself a problem. By default, it will warn you about suspicious domain names in e-mail addresses, and that just makes good sense. Also at the bottom, when sending an e- mail, by default, this is turned on, the system will postmark the messages to help e-mail clients distinguish what's real and what's junk.
Now all this really means is it'll take an extra second or two when it goes to send an e-mail message to put on this little postmark. Spammers can't afford to take that extra time, the computational power to generate that postmark, so they won't do it. It means if you're sending an e-mail to someone you haven't sent before, so maybe you're not in their Safe Senders list or their Contact database yet, they can look at this postmark with their Outlook program and know that it comes from someone real and that it's not junk. So leave this on to ensure that your e- mails don't get classed as junk by others. Now let's look at some of the Safe Lists.
First is, Safe Senders. This is a list of e-mail addresses or domains that are safe. So if an e-mail comes from one of these domains or a e-mail addresses will automatically classified as safe and we will not put it in the Junk E-mail folder. Now you can add individual e- mails or entire domains to the list. For example, I've added Halogen Software here. So, any emails coming from any e- mail address @hologensoftware.com are automatically considered safe and will not be subjected to the junk e-mail filter rules.
Also notice by default, it says " Also trust e-mail from my Contacts." So anybody who sends me an e-mail that's in my Contact database, chances are I don't want to filter that as junk, so this makes sense to leave turned on. You can also click on "Automatically add people I e-mail to the Safe Senders list." That way if I send an email to someone by typing in the To: box for example, and they're not in my Contact database, the system will automatically add it to this list. It's a great and easy way to automatically build the Safe Senders list, and I recommend you turn it on. Note that, for these lists, you can import and export these from a file, so if you had a previous version of Outlook, or a different e-mail program that included a list of Safe Senders, and you exported that, you could then import it into Outlook here, or vice versa.
Now let's go to the Safe Recipients. In this case, e-mails sent to an address or domain name on the Safe Recipient list will never be treated as junk mail. This is really something that you run into when you subscribe to mailing lists, I find. So for example, the Bugtraq mailing list at Security Focus. Any e-mails that were sent to that list, I have put in my Safe Recipients list, and of course you can add both e- mail addresses or an entire domain name. So, I could cover all of the different security focused mailing list just by doing this.
And again, we can Import or Export this list from a file. We have another tab for Blocked Senders. When you add someone to the Blocked Senders list, any e-mail coming from them or their domain if it's listed by domain here, will automatically be treated as junk and thrown in the Junk E-mail folder. And of course we can Import or Export this list as well. Lastly, we can make blocking international. By blocking Top-Level Domains or Blocked Encodings List. Let's start with the Top Level Domains. Top-level domains are typically things like countries.
So for example, if I decided that I was getting a whole bunch of spam from Turkmenistan, I could just say any e- mail coming from Turkmenistan, I'm going to classify as spam and put it in my Junk E-mail. You have to be very careful doing this, because if you can, if you rule of an entire country and there's anyone who sends you a valid e-mail from that country, it will just get classified as spam. However, sometimes you'll get all barrage of e-mail from certain overseas country, and you'll want filtered it out, and this is an easy way to do it. Another thing you can do is block e- mails with a certain type of encoding.
So for example e-mails that are in other languages that you don't understand, you can easily just filter them all out and tell the system, "These are all junk." The best way to do this I find is just to select all, and uncheck the only one that the majority of us understand, and that would be US ASCII. If you're an English speaker, then than this is probably the only encoding you might need. If you speak another language, make sure it's not on the list. I'm going to click OK, and filter out all of these except US ASCII 2. Click OK when you're done setting your options, OK again.
And now you'll find that your new settings have taken effect, and whenever you receive new e-mail, it will automatically run this filter and treat the messages accordingly. Well let's take a look at the Junk E-mail folder, and some of the messages I've got in here. Open one of the messages up, and you'll note that in the Junk E-mail group in the Ribbon, there's some other things you can do. So if you want to Block this Sender, you can click the Block Sender Button, and it will automatically add this e- mail address to the Block Senders list.
Something else you can do is you can add somebody to a Safe List. So, if this message got in here, but it's from somebody you really want to get e-mail from, you can add them to the Safe Senders list. You can add their entire domain to the Safe Senders list. Or you can Add Recipients to the Safe Senders list. So in this case, it'll add who it was To: to the Safe Senders list instead of who it was from. You could also just say "Hey, this is Not Junk!" When you do that, it asks you if you would like to always do that, and it's going to move the message and put it right back in the Inbox folder.
So now when I go back to the Inbox, I can find that message in here. And there it is. In addition to the options when you open an e-mail, you can also right-click on an e-mail message, and use some of the junk e-mail options here to some of the same operations.
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