Email: Spam Filtering and Junk Mail
Short version: Check your junk mail folder from time to time.
This article applies to: Email @ Cornell
Spam makes up more than two-thirds of all email traffic. Every email in the world passes through a gauntlet of junk mail / spam filters designed to protect recipients from all that spam.
With so much complexity, it’s inevitable that the occasional message will be misjudged. Take these two steps to make sure you aren't inadvertently missing important messages, or being unnecessarily bothered by spam.
- Check your junk mail folder regularly for legitimate messages.
- Google Workspace: look at the "Spam" label.
- Outlook, Outlook on the web, or Apple Mail: look in the "Junk E-mail" folder.
- If you're getting too much spam, or messages are getting marked as spam when they shouldn't, check the junk mail settings for every method you use to check your messages, including your phone. When messages are being mysteriously moved or "missing," it's often because different junk mail settings or rules are being applied by different email clients.
Handling Unwanted Email
Ignore the Message
If you are not expecting the message and the sender is not repeatedly contacting you, you may ignore the message and leave it in your mailbox.
Delete the Message
If you are not expecting the message and the sender is not repeatedly contacting you, you may delete the message.
Adjust Email Client Settings
If you are receiving repeated messages from a sender, you can use your email client’s settings to either mark the message as spam or create a rule to filter messages from the sender. Using the built-in spam reporting tools in Google Workspace and Office 365 has the benefit of providing information to help Google and Microsoft tune future automatic filtering for you and other Cornellians.
Google Workspace (student email; optional for faculty/staff)
- Report Spam
- Block unwanted emails
- Create rules to filter your emails
- If legitimate mail is marked as spam
Office 365 (faculty/staff email)
- Report Junk
- Mac: Select the message, right-click and select Report, then Report Junk.
- Outlook on the web: Select the message, right-click and select Report, then Report Junk.
This feature is not available in Outlook for Windows.
- Block Sender
- Windows: Select the message, right-click and select Junk, then Block Sender.
- Mac: Select the message, right-click (or Ctrl-click) and select Block.
- Outlook on the web: Select the message, right-click and select Block, then Block Sender.
- Set rules (filters) in Outlook on the web to handle specific messages.
The Automatic Junk Filtering and Rules created in Outlook on the web are applied on the server, so they will be applied no matter which email client you use to read your messages. Having all your settings in one place (Outlook on the Web) makes it easier to diagnose if something behaves oddly.
Unsubscribe from Lists
If you or someone else previously signed you up for a mailing list, use the “unsubscribe” option found within the email. You will typically find this in the footer at the bottom of the message. It is often quite small.
What Protects Your Cornell Email from Junk Mail / Spam
Your Cornell email is protected from junk mail / spam by two (or more) layers:
- By Microsoft: All incoming messages pass through Microsoft's spam defenses. Rejected messages are sent to the account's Microsoft Spam folder.
- In your email account on Google Workspace or Office 365: Personal junk mail settings and rules you can choose to apply to your mailbox. These are stored by Google or Microsoft.
- In your email client (Outlook, an app on your phone, Apple Mail, etc.): Personal junk mail settings and rules you can choose to set for a particular email client. These are stored by the email client, and are only applied when you use that email client to check for messages.
Depending on what systems your messages pass through (if, for example, you have messages sent to one address forwarded to another), there may be additional layers of protection.