Setting Up Email Filters

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What's an email filter?

All incoming email messages don't have to automatically go into your Inbox. An email filter lets you tell your software to handle some messages differently - for example, delete certain messages before you see them, automatically route them to a different mail folder, etc. A filter has two basic parts: The first is the criteria - this tells the software which messages you want filtered (for example, messages from a cerain person, messages containing certain words, etc.). The second part is the action - this tells the software what you want to do with messages that meet the criteria (ex. delete them).

One popular use for filters is to delete junk mail before you see it - for example, if you're getting a lot of messages trying to sell you low-cost mortgages, you can have a filter look for the words "low-cost" and "mortgage" in the body of your messages, and delete any messages containing those words. Be careful though - if your brother writes you all excited about the new low-cost mortgage he just took out, his message will be deleted, too!

How do I set one up?

How you set up a filter depends on your email program.
Eudora
Outlook Express / Windows Mail
Netscape

  • Eudora
    • Go to the [Tools] menu and select [Filters]. The filters window will appear. Click on the New button to start a new filter.
    • Make sure the Incoming box at the top is checked. If it isn't, click on it to check it.
    • Click on the arrow at the right of the Header field. A list will appear. Select "From:" to filter mail from a specific person, "Subject:" to filter mail with certain words in the Subject line, "<<body>>" to filter mail with certain words in the message body, etc.
    • Below the Header field are two boxes. The first defaults to read "contains". Leaving this as is will filter all mail containing specified word(s) in the Header you selected above. Click on the arrow at the right of this field to see other options.
    • In the second box, type the word(s) the Header should contain (or not contain, etc. depending on what you selected in the previous step) in order to be filtered. This completes setting up your criteria.
    • Under "Action", click the arrow next to the first field. From the list that appears, select "Transfer to" to transfer the message to a specific mailbox, or select a different option to have Eudora do something different with the message. (NOTE: If you want to delete a message, transfer it to the Trash mailbox.)
    • A box or button will appear next to this field, depending on what you selected. If you selected "Transfer to", clicking on this box allows you to select which mailbox you want the messages transferred to. This completes setting up your action.
    • Select [Save] from the [File] menu to save the filter.

  • Outlook Express / Windows Mail
    • Go to the [Tools] menu, select [Message Rules], then select [Mail]. The Message Rules dialog box will appear. Make sure the "Mail Rules" panel is on top - if it isn't, click the "Mail Rules" tab.
    • Click the New button to start a new rule. The New Mail Rule dialog box will be displayed.
    • Under "1. Select the Conditions for your rule", select "Where the From line contains people" to filter messages from certain people, select "Where the subject line contains specific words" to filter messages with specific words in the subject, select "Where the message body contains specific words" to filter messages with specific words in the body, etc.
    • Under "2. Select the Actions for your rule" select "Move it to the specified folder" to transfer the message to a specific mail folder, select"Delete it" to delete the message, etc.
    • Under "3. Rule Description" you'll see a line for each option you selected above, with certain words underlined in blue. Click on these words to give the details for your criteria and actions.
      • For the option(s) you selected under "1. Select....", click on the blue words to display a dialog box. In the top box, type a word you want to check for, then click the Add button. Do this for each word you want to check for, then click OK.
      • Depending on what you selected under "2. Select....", you may see some options underlined in blue. If you do, click on them to specify details as to the action you want to take on the messages. (For example, if you are moving them to a mail folder, click on the blue words to specify which mail folder.)
    • If desired, name your rule by typing something under "4. Name of the Rule".
    • Click OK.

  • Netscape
    • From the Netscape mail or messenger window, go to the [Edit] menu and select [Message Filters]. For Netscape 6 and above, go to [Tools], [Message Filters]. The Message Filters dialog box will appear.
    • Click the New button to set up a new filter. The Filter Rules dialog box will appear.
    • If desired, you can name your filter by typing something in the "Filter name:" box.
    • Click "Match any of the following" or "Match all of the following" to tell Netscape whether an incoming message will need to meet any or all of the criteria to be filtered.
    • The next line shows three fields. They may read: "the ____ of the message ____ ____." In the first box on this line, click the arrow on the right of the box and select "subject" to filter messages with certain word(s) in the subject line, select "sender" to filter mail from a certain sender, select "body" to filter mail with certain words in the body, etc.
    • You can normally leave the next box on this line at its default setting of "contains". In the final box on this line, type the word or words the specified section of the message must contain in order to be filtered. For example, if you want to re-route all mail from Joe, the line should end up saying "the sender of the message contains Joe", or just "sender contains Joe". This finishes setting up your criteria.
    • On the next line, following the word "then" or "Perform these actions", select "Move to Folder" to move specified messages to a certain mail folder, etc.
    • Depending on what you selected, you may or may not see a second box. If you do, use it to specify details as to the action you want to take on the messages. (For example, if you are moving them to a mail folder, use it to specify which mail folder.)