Training Google Mail (or Gmail) for Spam Filtering

Email spam

Have you ever had the experience of someone insisting that they sent you an email, but you can’t find it, only to look later in your Spam or Junk folder and find it hiding there? Now why would your mail app decide one thing is spam and another is not?

Email providers like Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail invest a lot of resources into making their spam filters do a good job of accurately identifying what is valid email and what is not. Sometimes they do a good job of that, and sometime they get a little over-zealous. This can result in what is called a “false positive.” That’s where an email may contain one or more traits that make it look like spam. This can be as simple as the email containing the word “spam” in the title or in the body.

All email providers use a varied list of criteria to give each incoming email a score. If the score of the combined factors goes over a certain threshold, then BAM – it goes into the spam folder. The Verge has an article about how Google now uses Artificial Intelligence to block spam.

How come I don’t see the spam?

Your email client (such as Apple’s included Apple Mail) does have its own junk filter. But that only comes into play once you check your mail from your provider’s servers. And that is long after their servers have already filtered out spam. That is why you may not see messages flagged as spam unless you log in to your account via a web browser at www.gmail.com.

If you use Gmail or Google mail (many non-profit and .org’s do) you can train it to remove false-positives. That way, email that you know is valid will no longer be filtered out as spam. The video below shows you how.

If you would like some help with this and any other aspects of keeping your email healthy and happy, contact us and we will be glad to take care of you!

Update your software now

You secure your valuables – your wallets, keys, and homes. You know that, if left unsecured, they can easily be a target for criminals. So it makes sense to think the same way about the information stored on all your electronic devices.

Computers, tablets, phones and other personal devices hold your emails and your financial and tax documents (with your Social Security numbers). Criminals who get access to this valuable information can commit identity theft, put harmful software on your devices, or both.

What’s one easy way to help protect all of this sensitive information? Update your software regularly, and as soon as possible when a newer version comes out. What’s an even easier way? Set the updates to happen automatically. Don’t ignore reminders to update. Criminals look to exploit vulnerabilities before the software companies can fix it. Delaying gives hackers time to access your information – even when a patch is out there to lock them out.

So what software should you be updating?

  1. Security software. Whether you use antivirus or firewall programs that were pre-installed on your device or that you bought on your own, make sure they’re up to date.
  2. Operating system software. Your operating system could be Windows, Apple OS, etc. If you’re not sure how to update your operating system, go to the website of your device manufacturer for help.
  3. Internet browsers and apps. Both are access points for criminals to enter your devices, so it’s important to keep them secure. 

For browsers, the Safari and Google Chrome browsers update themselves. For Firefox, go to the Firefox menu and choose “About Firefox” which will open a window and offer to download the latest update (if pending).

For iPhones and iPads, go to Settings:General:Software Update and turn on Automatic Updates.

For MacOS, we recommend going to System Preferences:Software Update and clicking on the Advanced… button (you will need to enter your Admin password) and setting your preferences this way, so that only the most major updates won’t be automatically applied for you:

Looking for more tips on how to stay safe online? Check out FTC.gov/OnGuardOnline.

It’s all too much!

What’s that you say? You’d rather just have a Macintosh consultant based in Denver just do it for you and be done with it? Absolutely! Contact us and we will get it done for you!

Want to remove your private info from the web?

Google your name – go ahead. Include some easily discoverable facts: the city where you live, the name of your employer, and maybe your middle name. 

If you’re like most people, the results page will be full of data brokers offering your address, your phone number, your email, the names of your relatives and their addresses, and so much more. In a world rife with random scams, this is a problem. 

Thankfully, there is something you can do about it. 

While removing all personally identifiable information from the internet is extremely difficult, there are a few simple steps you can take to snip the low-hanging fruit. If you’re simply worried about your privacy in general, then this act of privacy hygiene can go a long way. 

A good first stop is the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit “dedicated to reimagining privacy in a digital era.” The organization has an extremely detailed opt-out list for data brokers, with the respective links and steps needed to remove your info from the companies’ sites. More broadly, the WPF put together what it calls the top 10 opt-outs — a detailed step-by-step guide to pulling your information from the data brokers of the world. 

Want the schools you’ve attended to stop releasing your home address and phone number? Check the FERPA opt-out information. How about an easy and direct way to get on the National Do Not Call Registry? WPF has that, too. 

Ready for more? Stop Data Mining Me, a website that bills itself as the “Do Not Call” list for data brokers, has its own opt-out list. Consumer Reports also has a helpful list of its six recommended opt-outs

Importantly, the above is by no means an exhaustive list, and should not be considered that way. However, if you have a morning to spare and want to better protect your privacy, it’s a great place to start. 

So go ahead and get clicking. Your newfound privacy will thank you later. 

Want some help? Feel overwhelmed? You could use a good Macintosh consultant from Denver – We are here to help you. Contact us and we will get it done together!

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Troubleshooting, small business networks,
Macs, iPads, and printers
Device syncing, backups,
passwords and email accounts
OS and app optimization and updates, and
preventive maintenance