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Filtering Email

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Creating Email Filters

Email filters, called "rules" in Outlook Express and "filters" in Eudora –- Mr. Modem's favorite email program -- review your mail as soon as it's downloaded and dispose of or segregate messages containing certain words or from specific senders. Using email filters is an excellent way to block most spam, if you're diligent about creating and updating your filters.

Follow these steps to create mail filters (rules) for Outlook Express. (Instructions for creating Eudora mail filters appear below the Outlook Express instructions.)

Outlook Express

1. Launch Outlook Express, then click Tools > Message Rules > Mail.

2. The New Mail Rule window appears if this is the first rule you're creating or click the "New" button if other rules have been created previously.

Let's set up a rule that filters out any incoming message with "Viagra" in the Subject line. First, we need to set up the conditions for the message rule, so under "1. Select the Conditions for your rule," place a check mark beside "Where the Subject line contains specific words."

3. Under "3. Rule Description," click "contains specific words." Enter "Viagra," (without the quotes) and click "Add," followed by "OK."

4. Under "2. Select the Actions for your rule," select "Move it to the specified folder."

5. Under "3. Rule Description," click "Move it to the specified folder."

6. Select the "Deleted Items" folder (or click the "New Folder" button if you prefer to have your Viagra messages routed to another folder not yet created.) Click OK.

7. Under "4. Name of the rule," you'll be asked to provide a name for the new rule, so something like "Adios Viagra" will do nicely, then click "OK."

8. In the Message Rules dialog box, you'll then have an opportunity to review the new rule you created. If everything looks correct, click "OK," and you're done.

Creating Simple Filters using Eudora

Eudora provides many more options than Outlook Express for creating simple or sophisticated filters, depending on your needs. Refer to Eudora's built-in Help system for detailed information, but these instructions will provide an introduction to creating simple filters.

The simplest filters are those which transfer incoming messages to a particular mailbox based on criteria you establish. For example, it may be email coming from a certain sender, such as a family member. Each time you check your mail, you may want to have Eudora take all of the threatening incoming messages it receives from your ex-brother-in-law and transfer them into a mailbox you’ve named "Evidence."

To get Eudora to perform this type of simple filtering action, you set up a simple filter. For new users, the "Make Filter" dialog box provides an easy way to learn how to use filters. Once you get comfortable with simple filters created this way, you can go on to make more complex, powerful filters using the "Filters" window.

To open the Make Filter dialog box and create a simple filter, follow these steps:

1. Open an incoming or outgoing message that you will want to filter in the future. It can be an email from your ex-brother-in-law's or it may be a piece of spam (junk) email, or it may be a message from a colleague or your employer that you'll want to automatically save to a specific mailbox in the future.

2. From the Special menu, choose Make Filter. You can also right-click in the body of the open message. The Make Filter dialog box appears with the selected message criteria already entered.

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Match Conditions

The Match Conditions area allows you set up the criteria that will determine whether or not a particular message will be acted upon by the filter you're creating.

In the first area under Match Conditions you can specify if the message you want filtered will be Incoming, Outgoing or you can select both. You can also specify if this should be a Manual filter, though I'd recommend not selecting Manual. Selecting both Incoming and Outgoing messages creates an automatic filter, which is what most users want.

Next, select one of three content matches:

Any Recipient:

"From" (the default setting) will filter messages based on the sender's name or email address -- whatever criteria you enter. You can also leave the From field blank.

"Any Recipient" will filter incoming messages based on recipients contained in the To and Cc fields.

"Subject" will filter incoming messages based on a word or words contained in the Subject line of a message. This is a great way to filter spam. Create filters for "Viagra" or "xxx" or "herbal" or other words that if contained in the Subject line, you know you're not going to be interested in viewing. Take your time and build your filters slowly and carefully.

Action Area

The Action Area lets you determine the one action that will be performed on messages that meet the filtering conditions you’ve established for the filter. That's just a convoluted way of saying, "If a message arrives and it contains something you wanted the filter to keep a lookout for, the filter will spring into action."

The three action choices are all message-transfer actions that will transfer a message that meets your criteria to a new mailbox, an existing mailbox, or your Trash mailbox.

Click "Transfer to New Mailbox" to transfer a filtered message to a new mailbox that you will create and name. The "In Folder" field is a label showing you the folder in which your new mailbox will be created. By default, this is the same folder that holds the mailbox containing the messages you’ve selected. The new mailbox is created as soon as you create this filter. (Try it to see for yourself. The explanation sounds much more complex than actually doing it.)

Click "Transfer to Existing Mailbox" to transfer the filtered message into one of your existing mailboxes. For filters created for spam or other junk email, I'd suggest transferring it to your existing Trash mailbox.


Create Filter: When you have completed setting up the filter criteria above, click the "Create Filter" button to actually create the filter. The filter is added to the bottom of your filters list in the Filters window. (Click Tools > Filters to review or edit your filters at any time.) Your new filter is available immediately and will begin working the next time you check your mail.

Add Details: After setting up your filter, you can click "Add Details" to add additional information to your new filter and make it more powerful or just change it. This is where you can add details such as having sounds play when email from certain people arrive or add color labels, etc. Lots of options are available, so have fun and experiment. The best way to learn how to use filters is to create different filters and explore the many available options. Be sure to save any changes before exiting the Filters window.

Cancel: Click "Cancel" to cancel the filter if you change your mind. The filter is canceled and your changes are not saved.

Additional Assistance:

Eudora Filter Tutorial
If you use Eudora as your email program of choice, spend some quality time with this excellent tutorial.

Banish Spam With Filters

Creating mail filters is a very effective way to block spam. I've been using Eudora for years, and by consistently and persistently creating email filters, I block approximately 98 percent of all spam. It's not difficult, it simply requires persistence.

Happy filtering!

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