iCloud: Identifying and filtering junk mail

Learn how iCloud filters out unwanted bulk email messages, also known as junk mail or spam.

iCloud automatic junk mail filtering

To minimize junk mail, iCloud uses techniques such as trend analysis, dynamic lists, and content filtering to automatically detect and block junk mail before it reaches your Inbox. However, no strategy for managing junk mail is 100% effective, so some junk mail may still reach your Inbox. The information below may help you reduce the amount of junk mail that you receive.

If you think a message may be junk mail, don't open it

Sometimes the seemingly innocent act of opening a questionable email can alert spammers that their message was received and opened at an active email account. This can encourage more junk mail. To avoid this, you can delete any messages that look like junk mail before you view them.

You can also use the Mail app to mark messages as junk so that later messages from the same sender are automatically marked as junk:

  • In iOS 7 or later, open the message, tap the flag icon at the bottom, then tap “Move to Junk”.
  • In OS X, select the message and click the Junk (thumbs down) icon in the Mail toolbar.
  • At iCloud.com, select the message, then click the flag icon and choose “Move to Junk”. Or just drag the message to the Junk folder in the sidebar.

Spammers can use the email image-loading feature to determine whether your email account is active. Here's how to keep images from loading automatically:

  • In OS X Mail, choose Mail > Preferences. In the Viewing tab, deselect “Display remote images in HTML messages”.
  • In iCloud Mail, choose Preferences from the Action (gear) pop-up menu in the sidebar. In the General tab, deselect “Load images in HTML messages”.

Consider using an iCloud email alias

You can use an iCloud email alias to prevent junk mail from being sent to your primary iCloud email address. For example, you can use your iCloud Mail address for emailing friends and family, but use an email alias for online registrations, purchasing products, and joining mailing lists, for example. This makes it easier to monitor the sources of unwanted messages. For more information, read about iCloud email aliases.

Reporting junk mail

Filtering junk mail at the server level is only part of the solution. You can complement iCloud's junk-mail filtering by manually reporting messages as junk. You can do this by forwarding a message as an attachment to spam@icloud.com. Learn more about managing junk mail.

Troubleshooting false-positives

Due to the complexity of accurately detecting and filtering out junk mail, on rare occasions a legitimate email from a friendly source may be blocked from reaching your Inbox. This is called a false positive.

If you feel that a legitimate email message was inadvertently filtered, you may want to ask your friend to send a follow-up email to verify that the issue exists. If you notice that multiple email messages are being delayed, bounced, or not delivered, contact iCloud Support. Also make sure to check your Junk folder for email messages that were incorrectly marked as junk mail. To check your Junk folder at iCloud.com, choose the Mail application and click the Junk folder in the sidebar. Email messages in the Junk folder are automatically deleted after 30 days.

Learn more

Learn how to indicate that an email message isn't junk.

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