Home Tech Geek Desktop Outlook spam filter woes? Try Gmail’s spam filter!

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Gmail as spam filterIt's possible to replace your Outlook spam filter (or any spam filter using almost any email application) with Gmail's most awesome spam filter, even if you don't want to use Gmail as your email service provider.

Gmail offers one of the best spam filters I've seen, and I've seen a lot of spam filters. Unfortunately, the filter is built into Gmail and Google doesn't offer this service separate of it's email service. However, with a little extra work you can use your current email address along with your favorite email client and still take full advantage of Gmail's most awesome spam filter.

Setting up Gmail to Filter Spam

The first step to configure Gmail to filter spam is to create a Gmail account. Create any Gmail address you'd like, as you won't actually be using it to send and receive mail (although you certainly can, if you want to). Once created, you'll then need to configure Gmail to retrieve emails from your current IMAP or POP3 email account, then optionally allow Gmail to send email from your current email server (if you want to use Gmail's default web interface), or replace your Outlook spam filter (or any spam filter) by connecting your desktop client to Gmail's servers.

  1. Configure Gmail to retrieve emails from your current email account.

    This first step allows Gmail to retrieve emails from your current email account. We do this because Gmail will automatically implement spam filtering when retrieving your emails.

    a. In Gmail, click the gear icon to the far right of the page, then click on Settings.Gmail Settings Button
    b. Click on the Accounts and Import tab. Then choose Add a POP3 mail account you own from the Check mail from other accounts (using POP3) sectionNote that your current email server must support the POP3 protocol. Most email servers support this protocol so don't worry if you aren't sure, you're probably OK.
    Replace your Outlook spam filter with Gmail's spam filter
    c. In the setup wizard that follows, enter your the address of your current email account (the one you want to filter). Click Next Step».
    Gmail add pop3 account
    d. Continue the setup wizard by entering your email username, password, the the POP server hostname and port of your email service. You'll have to ask your account provider these details if you don't know them. You can also check any of the optional and self-explanatory checkboxes on the form as well. Click Add Account» and if you've entered everything correctly Gmail will now check your current email account periodically for new mail, and upload it to its servers.
    Gmail add pop email account

  2. Optional. Configure Gmail to send as you@your-domain.com (your current email account).

    (This step is only necessary if you want to use Gmail's web interface.)

    If you've completed step one, then you are already on the correct tab to begin configuring Gmail to send as your current email account.

    a. To start, click on the Add email address you own link in the Send mail as section of the settings page.
    Gmail add pop email account
    b. In the setup wizard that follows, enter your name and email address in the appropriate areas, uncheck Treat as alias and click Next Step».
    Gmai add another email address you own

    c. In the next screen, enter your SMTP Server, Username and Password, and choose the appropriate connect type then click the Add Account » button. You'll need to ask your email service provider if you don't know this information. If everything goes OK you have just allowed Gmail to send email from your current email server.
    Gmail add another email address you own
    d. Click the Make default link to the right of the newly created email account. This way when you send email from Gmail it will use you@youremail.com and not your newly-created Gmail address.

  3. Optional. Configure Gmail to replace your Outlook spam filter.

    (You only need to perform this step if you want to configure your desktop email client to use Gmail. If you plan on using Gmail as your default email client, then congratulations, you are finished!)

    a. In Settings, click on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab at the top of the page. You'll see a page similar to what's below.
    Gmail Forwarding and POP/IMAP

    c. Choose either Enable POP for all mail, Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on, or Enable IMAP. If you want to store your emails on Google's servers (a good choice if you want access to your email from multiple devices or while on vacation), Enable IMAP is the choice to make. Otherwise choose one of the Enable POP choices.

    d.The final step is to configure your desktop email client (for example, Microsoft Outlook or Mac Mail) to use Gmail's servers to retrieve email. This will replace or augment your Outlook spam filter (or whatever spam filter you are using). How to do this is beyond the scope of this blog post, but the links below will help you to complete the task

    Configure Outlook to use Gmail

    Configure Mac Mail to use Gmail.

    The important thing to note about connecting your desktop email client to Gmail is to set the "From:" address as your current email address, not the Gmail address you created.

That's it! The above takes some work, but for the best free (or otherwise) spam filtering application available, you should find the results worth the effort.

Keywords: Outlook spam filter, replace your default spam filter with Gmail's spam filter.


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