As email becomes more popular, the volume of spam worldwide increases every single day; at the same time, all webmail providers like Hotmail (Yahoo Mail and Gmail are the two other major players), have developed "junk mail filters", and even come up with "adaptive" spam filtering algorithms that learn to recognize junk mail not just from constantly updated lists of known spammers, but also by learning from the types of messages you manually mark as spam. As you'll learn in this tutorial, there are a couple of spam settings you can configure in Hotmail, and we'll make a few recommendations that should help make your online email experience much more agreeable!
Once you are signed into your Hotmail account, go to your inbox (or other email folder), and click on the "Options" button near the top right corner of the page; then, select "More options" to access the "Hotmail Options" screen.
Click on the "Filters and reporting" link shown below "Preventing junk email", and Hotmail will load a screen with four basic choices you can configure for your account.
The first setting gives you two choices, the second of which will automatically place all emails received from "non-contacts" inside the Junk folder:
• "Standard - Most junk email is sent to the junk email folder": this is the default option, and instructs Hotmail to automatically move to the Junk email folder any message it thinks is spam. The Windows Live Hotmail team use both public spam lists and their own spam filters to detect dangerous phishing attempts and plain old scams. The advantage of using a webmail service as popular as Hotmail is of course that with such a large number of test subjects, their spam filters are, in our experience, some of the best in the industry. We haven't since the need to increase to the next level.
• "Exclusive - Everything is sent to the junk email folder except messages from your contacts and safe senders, Windows Live Hotmail service announcements, and alerts that you signed up for": this option guarantees that no spam will ever reach your Hotmail inbox, since only email senders you have manually added as contacts will have their messages delivered in the inbox. Everything else will go straight to the Junk folder.
Since Hotmail automatically deletes all more-than-ten-days-old messages in your Junk mail folder, legitimate mails from senders not yet added as contacts will be gone for good, which makes this option a poor choice if you (a) use Hotmail for your business (and receive emails from people you don't know), or (b) do not check your Hotmail account often enough to ensure you'll check the content of the Junk folder for legitimate emails!
Either keep the Standard filter or pick Exclusive; before saving the change, let's look at the remaining settings Hotmail offers for spam handling.
As mentioned in the extra explanations above, Windows Live Hotmail will automatically remove (for good) all email messages contained in the Junk mail folder after 10 days. The reason it mentions this auto-deletion policy amongst spam settings is probably to ensure that we're all aware of it. The upside of this approach (combined with the fact that Hotmail offers "ever-increasing" storage) is that you never have to bother manually emptying your Junk folder, it will take care of itself.
Caution: whenever you delete a message in a Hotmail folder, it is temporarily placed in the "Deleted" folder (like the Recycle Bin on Windows), from where you have a second chance to retrieve and restore the email in question. But when you delete messages from the Deleted folder or the Junk folder, they will be permanently erased from your account, with no chance of being "undeleted". Never empty the Junk folder without first ensuring that it contains no legitimate messages accidentally filtered as spam.
And here's the second setting, which customizes the Hotmail junk mail handling behavior behind the scenes - explanations follow the screenshot:
• "Report junk - Help us keep junk out of everyone's inboxes when you use the Junk button": this is the default Hotmail spam setting, and by sharing what messages you mark as spam, this information contributes to making Windows Live's junk mail filtering system better. Note that this information may be shared with other, third-party spam filters (this exchange of information is done both ways), which improves the accuracy of the filtering process for Hotmail users and others. No personal information is shared in the process, only data used to pinpoint spammers.
• "Don't report - The Junk button will act just like the Delete button. Nothing will be reported to Microsoft or anyone else": if you change your spam settings to this option, no information about the spammer is reported to Microsoft (the company that makes Hotmail), or anyone else. Since no personal information is sent about you during a spam report, and since we all benefit from better spam filters, we don't see a reason not to keep Hotmail's default junk mail handling setting (in our opinion!)
Once you have customized the spam settings for your Hotmail account, click on the "Save" button to apply the change and return to the Hotmail Options page. (Or click "Cancel" to keep your current settings.)
Final Tip: regardless of the spam settings you just configured, remember to regularly check the content of your Junk folder, as legitimate messages might be accidentally filtered as spam, and they will automatically be deleted after 10 days!