Junk Email Protection in Outlook 2016 for Mac

This article discusses how Outlook 2016 for Mac handles Junk Email Protection. 

Junk mail filtering

There are two kinds of junk mail filtering (sever-side and client-side). Server-side junk filtering occurs on the mail server (such as Exchange) as soon as email messages arrive in the mailbox. Client-side junk filtering occurs on the client (such as Outlook and Outlook for Mac) when email messages are downloaded from the server to the client.

Outlook 2016 for Mac doesn’t provide any client-side junk mail protection for any kind of an account (Exchange, POP, or IMAP). Instead, it only relies on the mail server to perform all junk mail filtering. Email messages are not scanned client-side by Outlook 2016 for Mac to determine whether they are junk mail. Exchange servers provide server-side junk mail filtering, and most popular email providers, such as Hotmail, Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo, provide server-side junk mail filtering. This behavior makes client-side Outlook junk filtering redundant.

It’s important to understand that junk mail filtering and blocked senders are not the same thing, although they are frequently used in conjunction. Junk filtering is when email headers and content are scanned for characteristics that makes the email message likely to be junk. When you add an email address to the Blocked Senders list, email messages from that email address are always moved to the Junk E-Mail folder.

Under the Outlook menu -> Preferences -> Junk in Outlook 2016 for Mac, there is no Junk Email Protection Level setting.

Safe senders

When you connect to IMAP, POP or an Exchange 2010 mailbox, Outlook 2016 for Mac lets you add safe senders. However, safe senders are client-side only and don’t synchronize to the server. Because Outlook 2016 for Mac doesn’t perform any junk mail filtering, client-side safe senders no longer have any use.

When you connect to an Exchange 2013 or a later version mailbox (including Exchange Online), Outlook 2016 for Mac does not let you add safe senders.

Blocked senders for Exchange 2013 or later accounts (including Exchange Online)

When you connect to an Exchange account, you can't manage Blocked Senders under the Outlook menu -> Preferences -> Junk. If Outlook 2016 is connected to only Exchange 2013 or later accounts (including Exchange Online), you see a message that states this feature is not available for the accounts currently configured. This appears because the client-side Safe and Blocked Senders features are available only for POP, IMAP, or Exchange 2010 accounts.

Junk page including Safe and Blocked senders

If you connect to an Exchange 2013 or later mailbox (including Exchange Online) in Outlook 2016 for Mac, you can add server-side blocked senders. Blocked senders that are added by using this method will be synchronized to the Exchange server and stored there. You cannot view the Blocked Senders list in Outlook 2016 for Mac, and you must use Outlook on the web (OWA) to view and manager your blocked senders. For more information, see the "Using OWA to manage Junk mail filtering, and Safe and Blocked Senders in Exchange" section in this article.

To add a server-side blocked sender when you connect to an Exchange 2013 or later mailbox, select the email message sent from the sender that you want to block, click Junk on the ribbon, and then click Block Sender. Or, you can right-click the email message, click Junk, and then click Block Sender.

Junk on the ribbon with Block Sender option

The next time that this sender sends you an email message, the message will be directed into the Junk E-Mail folder.

Blocked senders for POP, IMAP or Exchange 2010 accounts

Outlook 2016 for Mac lets you add Blocked Senders for POP, IMAP and Exchange 2010 mailbox accounts. These are client-side blocked senders only, and they are not synchronized to the server. When you add a blocked sender in Outlook 2016 for Mac, an email message from that sender will be moved to the Junk E-Mail folder when the email message is downloaded to Outlook.

Under the Outlook menu -> Preferences -> Junk, you see Safe SendersandBlocked Senders. If you have one or multiple POP, IMAP, or Exchange 2010 accounts configured, when you open the Junk Preferences, you see a message that states which account the settings apply to, because these settings only apply to these account types. If you also have an Exchange 2013 or later account configured together with the other accounts, the Exchange 2013 or later account will not be displayed and the email message that the Exchange account receives will not be filtered based on this Blocked Sender list.

Junk page with Safe and Blocked senders fields and a message saying which account the settings apply to

Note: If you connect to an Exchange 2013 or later server mailbox by using the POP or IMAP protocol, the behavior will be the same as any POP or IMAP account, such as Outlook.com. You can add client-side safe and blocked senders. However, adding the account as a POP or IMAP account instead of as an Exchange account will cause you to lose Exchange features.

Marking an email message as junk manually

You can still mark an email message as junk manually. To do this, click the Junk menu, and then click Mark as Junk. This moves the email message to the Junk E-Mail folder. However, future email messages that are similar or from the same sender are not automatically moved to the Junk E-Mail folder.

Using OWA to manage Junk mail filtering, and Safe and Blocked Senders in Exchange

When you connect Outlook 2016 for Mac to an Exchange account, it's recommended that you use OWA to enable or disable Exchange server-side junk mail filtering and to manage your server-side Safe and Blocked Senders lists. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to OWA, click the Gear icon at the upper-right, and then select Options.

  2. Click Mail -> Accounts -> Block or allow, and then configure the options as you prefer.

    Block or allow under Accounts with the options that you can configure

Overall comparison of Outlook for Mac 2011 and Outlook 2016 for Mac about Junk Email Protection options

Option/feature

Outlook for Mac 2011 (version 14.3.2+)

Outlook 2016 for Mac

Performs Junk mail filtering for Exchange accounts

No

No

Performs Junk mail filtering for POP and IMAP accounts

Yes

No

Add blocked senders when you connect to Exchange 2013 or later versions, including Exchange Online (sync to server)

Yes

Yes

Add blocked senders when you connect to Exchange 2010 (client-side only)

Yes

Yes

Add blocked and safe senders for POP and IMAP accounts (client-side only)

Yes

Yes

Mark email messages as junk manually (any kind of account)

Yes

Yes

Contains the Junk category by default and email messages marked as junk are assigned it automatically

Yes

No

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