Delete Spam Immediately with Outlook Express

from the February 2002 Newsletter
by Rob Zorn


No doubt, if you've been using e-mail for a while, you're already well aware of the curse that is Spam, or unsolicited e-mail that comes to you offering ridiculously great deals, all sorts of sexual enhancement, or the ability to find out secrets about your friends, boss or employees. No doubt, too, you're also thoroughly sick of it.

Unfortunately, Spam is a fact of Internet life. Spammers change their sending addresses, use fake user names, and generally know all the tricks in order to stay hidden and untraceable. Because they change their details all the time, they're awful hard to filter out too. Generally they work on the principle of not caring that they annoy the living daylights out of 499,000 people, as long as the 500,000th responds to their offer of sale with interest. They're unscrupulous. They know full well that the world hates Spam, but they carry on regardless. For this reason, I anticipate that the Spam problem isn't going to go away anytime soon.

One thing that you can do is set up Outlook Express to send e-mail from certain senders straight to your Deleted Items folder. At least this saves you having to read or deal with it. I'm currently being hit a dozen times a day by Spam that I believe comes from the same outfit. The sending details vary from Special Deals or SpecialDeals to Holiday Offers or HolidayOffers. The "opt out" clauses at the foot of the e-mail tell me that I am receiving these offers because I signed up for them. This is a bald-faced lie, but, as we've established, these guys are unscrupulous. I made the mistake of responding to their "opt out" or "Remove me" clause at the bottom of one of the e-mails. This has merely confirmed to them that my e-mail address works and is checked on a regular basis. The Spam from these losers just keeps on coming thick and fast.

One thing that you can do is set up Outlook Express to send e-mail from certain senders straight to your Deleted Items folder. At least this saves you having to read or deal with it. There are a number of ways you can do it, and you may be tempted to use the block senders option (OE6). I don't recommend the block senders option, because it is not very flexible. It really only allows you to trash mail sent from certain e-mail addresses or domains. The Message Rules option allows you to send e-mail straight to your Deleted Items folder on the basis of e-mail addresses, message text, subject line, attachment, size and so forth. It probably won't take you long to realise that message rules are also great for automatically sorting mail into folders, but we'll leave that for another day.

To automatically delete Spam, try the following:

1. Open Outlook Express, and then click on Tools.
2. Click on Message Rules in the dropdown box that appears and then on Mail in the little grey box that appears to the right when you click. The Message Rules box should appear, similar to the one pictured here on the right. You'll see that I already have four mail rules working. The first three have to do with sorting mail, but Rule #4 is my Spam killer.
3. Click the New button, and the New Mail Rule box will appear. This box has four sections.
4. The first section is called Select the Conditions... and contains a series of checkboxes. Click a tick into the box labelled When the From line contains people.
5. The second section is called Select the Actions. Click a tick into the box labelled Delete It.
6. The third section is called Rule Description and should now have the following words in it: Apply this rule after the message arrives. Where the From line contains people Delete it.
7. Click the underlined blue words (
contains people) and a small box entitled Select People will appear.
8. Type anything that might appear in an e-mail's from line here. I normally just type in the words that Outlook Express displays for me as to who the Spam e-mail is from. Put them in a word or phrase at a time and then click the Add button on the left. For example, type in Save Big and click Add. Then type in SaveBig and click Add. Do this for all the Spam you've been receiving. You can also type in e-mail addresses here. As you add these words or phrases, you'll see them appearing in the lower portion of the Select People box.
9. When you're done, click Okay. The rule should take over and work from there.

Now admittedly, this only works for Spam you've already received, but at least it will alleviate some of the burden of future Spam from the same sources. Remember, you can add to or delete from the rule at any time. Just click Tools/Message Rules/Mail, and select your rule. Click once on the underlined blue words at the bottom of the Message Rules box to bring up the Select People box in order to add more words or names.

Obviously, we've only touched on one of the capabilities of the Outlook Express Message Rules feature. Have a look through the other options and have a go at setting up a few more rules that might be helpful. One possibility is to organise incoming e-mail into different folders - a great way to sort mail for families who use the one machine.