Is spam hogging your inbox?

Recently I decided to declutter my Hotmail account. I used to set my junk mail filter very high, thinking that was all I needed to do to have a healthy inbox. But I began to notice that important emails were ending up in my junk mail folder.

I had a good hard look at the kinds of junk email I was getting. It turned out that a lot of the spam originated from mailing lists for companies that I had previously bought from online. This included emails from theatre companies, hotels and travel sites. Others were from online groups that I was no longer interested in. Then there was the genuine  ‘phishing scam’ junk emails. So I decided to take action by decluttering my junk mail folder.


Unsubscribe from company mailing lists

My first step was to unsubscribe from all the companies I’d bought from. I really don’t need to be on those mailing lists. This accounted for two thirds of the problem right off the bat.  You can usually do this by opening the email, scrolling down to the bottom and clicking on the unsubscribe link. It might take a few weeks to a month to catch all the mailing lists you are subscribed to – this depends on how often they send emails out.


Add groups you want to remain with to your contact list

I took a good look at the groups I was subscribed to. There were a couple that were still useful to me. I marked these as ‘not junk’ and added the groups to my safe contact lists. This meant that in future they would appear in my inbox not my junk mail.  I also unsubscribed to many of the mailing lists in my inbox and really gave it a good decluttering.


How to add a contact to your safe list

Using Hotmail, you can add a contact to your safe list by going to ‘Options’ (top right corner of the screen under your name) and selecting ‘More Options’ from the drop down menu. Under the heading ‘Preventing junk mail’ select ‘Safe and blocked senders.’ Now choose ‘Safe mailing lists.’ Next add the email address of the list you want to keep safe and click the ‘Add To List’ button.

Now you can guarantee that your mail from the added lists will end up in your inbox. This is only really necessary if your security settings are set really high.


Block real spam

The next step was to block the real spam from my inbox. In Hotmail you can do this by checking the box of the email that you wish to block. Choose ‘Junk’ from the top bar menu and this will move the email into the junk folder. Now go into your junk folder. Select the offending email and use the Sweep menu at the top to block the sender.

I still get some of this type of spam but only a very little amount. I haven’t yet found a way to fully block it because they seem to use a different email address each time, but since I know only junk goes into my junk mail folder, it’s really not too much of a problem.


Reduce your security settings

This might seem an odd thing to do but it will help genuine email that to reach your inbox. This can be achieved by going to Options, selecting More Options, then click ‘Filters and reporting’ under the ‘Preventing junk mail’ heading. Make sure you set ‘Filters’ to standard. Please note that if you choose the ‘exclusive’ option, emails that you want to see can end up in junk mail.


Setting up your email account this way will hopefully help you to declutter your inbox, stay on top of things and not miss out on that vital email.