Setting up Email Filters

Setting up email filters in Outlook or Thunderbird

This page will provide you general instructions for creating filters to route messages tagged as spam, to a separate folder. Scroll down for Thunderbird instructions. You will want to set up a filter to direct email  tagged as spam with the word {Possible Spam} in the subject line, to have them placed in a separate folder for you to review in one location.

Filters for Outlook

  1. Start Outlook.

  2. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.
    (Outlook uses the term "rules," but rules and filters are the same thing.)

  3. When the Rules and Alerts dialog box is displayed, click the New Rule button near the top of the window.

    Rules and Alerts dialog box

  4. Click Start from a blank rule and ensure that Check messages when they arrive is highlighted. Then, click Next to continue.

    start a new rule and slect when messages should be checked

  5. In Step 1, check the box labeled with specific words in the subject. In Step 2, click the link for specific words.

    select conditions to check

  6. When prompted to specify a word or phrase to search for in the subject, type [SPAM: and then click Add. Click OK to close the dialog box.

    specify words to search for in email subject field

  7. Click Next to continue.

  8. When prompted for what to do with the message in Step 1, check the box for move it to the specified folder. In Step 2, click the link for specified folder.

    click specified folder link

  9. Choose a folder for your filtered spam. If you use Webmail or IMAP, you probably already have a Spam folder on the server.
    If you need to create a new Spam folder, click the New button.

    choose a folder

  10. In the Create New Folder dialog box, enter the following information and then click OK to close the dialog box:

    • Name: type Spam (or any name you wish)

    • Folder contains: ensure that Mail and Post Items is selected.

    • Select where to place the folder: click the folder under which you want the Spam folder to be created. If you are using IMAP, you probably want to create your folder on the server.

    create a new folder

  11. Click OK to close the dialog box that is displaying your list of folders..

    Spam folder displayed in list of folders

  12. Click Next to continue.

  13. No exceptions are necessary, so click Next to continue.

    rule summary

  14. Enter a name for this rule, verify that the box for Turn on this rule is checked, and click Finish.

    specify name for rule

  15. The Rules and Alerts dialog box will be displayed. Click Apply to run this rule on new messages.

    Note: If you have multiple rules, you will probably want the spam rule to run first. Rules are run according to their order from top to bottom. Select the spam rule and then click the Up arrow button to move the spam rule to the top of the list.

    apply rule

  16. Click OK to close the Rules and Alerts dialog box.


Filters for Thunderbird

Using Thunderbird as your e-mail client can greatly reduce the amount of junk e-mail that reaches your Inbox. While it cannot prevent all junk mail, the filter gets better over time as it learns what is junk and what is not.

The instructions below will help you setup Thunderbird's built in Junk mail filter

  1. In Thunderbird, click on Tools and choose Account Settings.
  2. Click on Junk Setting.
  3. Place a check mark in each of the boxes. Make sure to trust junk mail headers from Spam Assassin. You can change how long before Thunderbird deletes messages.
  4. Press OK to finish.

Thunderbird will place this flame icon  next to all messages that it believes to be Spam.

At first, Thunderbird may have trouble differentiating between your real and junk mail. You will need to correct it when it makes mistakes either way. In time, Thunderbird will do a wonderful job of putting junk mail from your mail folders into your Junk folder.

Use Thunderbird Filters to Organize Your E-mail

Filters can move messages from specific senders into folders for you automatically, or label messages that contain key words. Organize your e-mail the easy way by following instructions on this page to create your own custom filters.

  1. Within Thunderbird choose Tools and select Message Filters.
  2. The Message Filters window will open showing you all current filters.
  3. Click on the "New" button to create a new filter. This will bring up the Filter Rules so that you can start creating filters. If you want to change an existing filter, choose Edit or you can Delete old unwanted filters. The filters run in priority of the rank they have on your screen. You can move them up or down the list with the Move buttons.
  4. Use the drop down menus to program in what Thunderbird matches and what actions it should take for these messages. In our example above, we chose that all messages with the Subject "WU-SPAM" to be moved into the Junk folder. You can add more match conditions or actions by using the + button. The - button will remove the condition or action highlighted. Press OK once your filter is ready. You can close the Message Filters box as well.
  5. The filters will work on all incoming mail immediately. To retroactively apply the filter to your inbox, first highlight your inbox folder in Thunderbird, then choose Tools and select Run Filters on Folder. You may also do the same to your other folders.

For general instructions on setting up filters for Mac mail, browse to