Managing junk e-mail in Outlook 2007

outlook 2007 step by step book cover

Microsoft Office 2007 Step by Step
By Joan Preppernau and Joyce Cox

Joan Preppernau is the author of more than a dozen books about Windows and Office as well as numerous online training programs, and a contributor to the development of the certification exams for the 2007 Office system and Windows Vista. Joan is the President of Online Training Solutions, Inc. (OTSI).

Joyce Cox has over 20 years' experience in the development of training materials about technical subjects for non-technical audiences, and is the author of dozens of books about Office and Windows technologies. Joyce is the Vice President of Online Training Solutions, Inc. (OTSI). She was President of and principle author for Online Press, where she developed the Quick Course series of computer training books for beginning and intermediate adult learners. She was also the first managing editor of Press, an editor for Sybex, and an editor for the University of California.

To learn more about other books on the 2007 Microsoft Office system, visit Microsoft Press.

In this article

Protecting your privacy

Helping to block unwanted messages

Managing the Junk E-Mail Filter

This article provides a quick look at some of the new and improved features in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 that will help you manage the unsolicited junk mail that appears in your Inbox every day.

Protecting your privacy

E-mail is increasingly being used as a means of delivering marketing information to customers and potential customers. Many companies include pictures in their marketing messages to help explain their product or make the message more attractive and noticeable, but these pictures can make e-mail messages large. To avoid this problem, some companies include links to pictures that are hosted on their server, rather than the actual picture. When you preview or open the message, you can see the pictures, but they aren’t actually part of the message.

Some less-than-scrupulous senders are using this technology to include Web beacons in their messages. Web beacons are small programs that notify the sender when you read or preview the e-mail message. The notification confirms that your e-mail address is valid, and might result in more unwanted e-mail being sent to you.

Outlook includes features that block external content such as pictures, sounds, and Web beacons. In addition to helping ensure your privacy, this blocking technique can save bandwidth resources, because you choose whether to download images and sounds, rather than downloading them automatically when you display a message.

By default, Outlook 2007 blocks external content to and from all sources other than those defined in the Safe Senders List and the Safe Recipients List. When you open or preview a message that contains blocked content, an InfoBar in the message header provides options for handling the blocked content.

Under most circumstances, the security provided by the default settings far outweighs the slight inconvenience of manually downloading content you want to see or hear. You will probably find that many of the messages that include blocked pictures (most frequently these are advertisements) are not of interest to you anyway.

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Helping to block unwanted messages

Outlook offers levels of protection-related functionality for managing junk e-mail messages (also called spam)—the unsolicited advertisements, sometimes containing dangerous attachments, that can swamp your Inbox if your e-mail address finds its way into the hands of unscrupulous mailing list vendors. When enabled, the Junk E-Mail Filter either moves messages that appear to be junk e-mail to a special folder or deletes them. You can specify a list of e-mail addresses or domains whose messages should always be treated as junk; you can also specify a list that should never be treated as junk.

Outlook 2007 also offers protection from phishing messages—a dangerous and widespread identity theft scam. Phishing messages contain links to phishing sites purporting to represent trusted, known entities, such as banks or e-commerce sites that would likely have your personal information on file. The messages request that you “update” your personal information through the link provided. If you do so, you inadvertently provide the requested information (which might include your social security number, bank account number, passwords, and other confidential information) to scam artists, who then sell or otherwise use the information for their own financial gain. In the past, you were in danger only if you submitted your information through the phishing site, but these sites are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with many now hosting malicious keystroke-logging software. You can infect your computer just by visiting the site, which makes it vital that you protect yourself from these threats.

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Managing the Junk E-Mail Filter

Outlook 2007 provides enhanced spam filtering options in the Junk E-Mail Filter. If you don’t have additional filters in place, such as those that might be supplied by your organization, you might prefer to set the Junk E-Mail Filter protection level at a higher level. With the protection level set to High or to Safe Lists Only, it is likely that the Junk E-Mail Filter will catch quite a few valid messages that you don’t want deleted.

junk e-mail options dialog box

Tip: Note that the Disable Links And Other Functionality In Phishing Messages check box is selected by default. Unless you are very confident that you have another protective system in place, leave this option selected.

You can add a specific person’s e-mail address to the Safe Senders List or specify that e-mail received from any sender at a particular domain is safe by adding only the domain. To ensure that messages from your legitimate contacts aren’t held by the Junk E-Mail Filter, you should select the Also Trust E-mail From My Contacts and Automatically Add People I E-mail To The Safe Senders List check boxes.

You can add addresses or domains to your Safe Recipients List to ensure that messages you send to them will never be treated as junk e-mail. You can manually add e-mail addresses and domain names to the Blocked Senders List or Outlook will add them for you whenever you identify a received message as junk e-mail.

The Junk E-Mail Filter gives you the option of blocking all messages from a country-specific, top-level domain, or all messages containing specific non-English text encoding.

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