Automatically deal with the trash and junk in Mac Mail

Automatically deal with junk email and deleted email in Mail on the Apple Mac

For some people, 90% of the email messages they receive are trash and junk. How do you deal with them using Mail on the Apple Mac? Learn the useful settings that make life easier.

Spam and junk mail fills our inboxes and is a constant problem that only seems to get worse over time. We can delete the messages easily enough, but it take time and effort, and we have enough to do each day as it is. It also fills the Trash folder too.

There are settings in Mail Preferences on the Apple Mac that can help you to deal with the junk and trash and they take just a few seconds to configure.

Junk is spam, such as unwanted advertising emails that try to sell you something, visit a website, get you to click a link and so on. It is irritating and mostly uninteresting and useless. Some spam leads to malware or shady websites selling dubious products. and it is best to steer well clear of them

Trash is simply deleted emails. At first the Trash isn’t a problem, but if you never emptied the Trash folder you would eventually end up with thousands of deleted emails. Why? They just clutter up the disk, consume space and slow down your Mac. They need to be cleared out.

Mail preferences

Open the Mail app, go to the Mail menu and select Preferences.

Mail preferences in OS X on the Apple Mac

Junk mail filtering

No-one likes junk mail filling their inbox every day, but fortunately Mail can automatically detect many common types of spam and deal with it.

Select the Junk Mail tab at the top and tick Enable junk mail filtering. Just below where it says When junk mail arrives, select Move it to the Junk mailbox. Tick all the options below to prevent regular emails from being mistaken as junk.

Junk Mail filtering options in the Mail app in OS X on the Apple Mac

Set expiry dates

Select the Accounts tab at the top and then select each account in turn - there are separate settings for each one.

Select the Mailbox Behaviours tab just below this.

We are interested in two items - Junk and Trash. For each of these is a pop-up menu and they enable you to choose to automatically delete Junk and Trash when they reach a certain age or when you quit Mail.

Account options in the Mail app in OS X on the Apple Mac

On the Junk menu, select One month old. Mail will automatically move emails suspected of being spam to the Junk folder the minute they arrive in your inbox. They will be kept for one month in the Junk folder, after which, they are deleted.

Sometimes Mail mistakes a legitimate email for spam and moves it to the junk folder, so you must occasionally open the folder and see what is there. You can drag out emails that have been mistaken for spam and drop them in the Inbox folder.

This preferences setting gives you one month to check the Junk folder and rescue an email mistaken for spam. Any less than one month is a bit risky. If you set it to one day for example, and one day you forget to check the junk folder, a message you wanted could be deleted.

The same options apply to the Trash folder and messages can be automatically deleted after they have been in there for a certain length of time, or even when you quit Mail.

It is useful to give yourself a bit of breathing space and keep messages in the Trash for at least a week, if not a month. You may delete an email and a day or two later you realise it had something in it you need. If it is still in the Trash folder you can recover it.

Seting an expiry date for emails in the Trash prevents the folder from becoming too large.



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