macOS High Sierra

Reduce junk mail in your inbox

Mail analyzes incoming messages to identify junk mail, then highlights the messages with color (brown by default) and a banner across the top of the message. Each time you confirm a message as junk or not junk, Mail is able to identify junk mail more accurately.

As Mail learns about your junk mail, it can automatically move junk messages to your email account’s Junk mailbox when they arrive (if you set the junk mail filter to do so). You can set a different preference that determines when to delete messages from the Junk mailbox.

Open Mail for me

Mark messages as junk or not junk

  • If Mail incorrectly marks a message as junk: Click Not Junk in the banner at the top of the message, or click the Not Junk button in the Mail toolbar (or use the Touch Bar).

  • If Mail fails to mark a message as junk: Select the message, then click the Junk button in the Mail toolbar (or use the Touch Bar).

If you don’t see the buttons, make sure junk mail filtering is enabled in Mail preferences. In Mail, choose Mail > Preferences, click Junk Mail, then select “Enable junk mail filtering.”

Change the junk mail filter

The default settings in Mail’s junk mail filter catch most of the junk messages you receive, but you can customize the filter.

  1. Choose Mail > Preferences, then click Junk Mail.

  2. Specify what Mail should do when junk mail arrives.

    • To easily verify what Mail identifies as junk mail, select “Mark as junk mail, but leave it in my Inbox.”

    • If you’re sure the filter accurately identifies junk mail, select “Move it to the Junk mailbox.”

    • To set up other actions, select “Perform custom actions,” then click Advanced.

      Note: To make sure the junk mail database is used to identify junk mail, don’t change the default condition “Message is Junk Mail.”

  3. In the Junk Mail pane, select options for exempting messages from evaluation, such as messages received from people who use your full name.

  4. To include in the filter any junk mail detection inherent in messages, select “Trust junk mail headers in messages.”

Mail maintains an internal database of information that helps it detect junk mail. When you mark messages as junk or not junk, Mail updates the junk mail database accordingly and your junk mail filter improves over time. If you change your mind about what is junk mail (for example, you want to receive someone’s messages that you previously specified as junk mail), you need to mark them as not junk.

To reset the junk mail database to its original state and remove everything Mail learned from you about what is or isn’t junk, click Reset at the bottom of the Junk Mail pane in Mail preferences.