Vista's Junk Mail Filter: Users' Tips: Page 3

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The Junk E-Mail Options Tab

The first tab offers you the ability to manage the level of sensitivity that the application will apply to messages. This essentially amounts to a degree of filtering. By default, the Junk E-mail filter is set to “Low: Move the most obvious junk e-mail to the Junk E-mail folder.” Adjusting the sensitivity is as simple as choosing a radio button.

During testing, we found that the High setting provided the best results. Certain companies that we have received e-mail from saw fit to send us advertisements for related products, even on behalf of their partners. On the High setting, these less personal e-mails were moved to the Junk E-mail folder, allowing us to quickly discern what we cared for and what was likely irrelevant mail.

The first and last radio button options under “Choose the level of junk e-mail protection you want” provide the opposite ends of the spectrum. The No Automatic Filtering and Safe List Only settings rely not on the SmartScreen algorithms, but simply on block or allow lists. These lists specify who is allowed to send mail to the recipient, and who is not. In Windows Mail, these lists are Safe Senders and Blocked Senders, respectively.

Let’s take a moment to discuss the Blocked Senders and the Safe Senders lists, both of which are easily administered through dedicated tabs. The Safe Senders and Blocked Senders tabs are fairly straightforward. Both allow you to add, remove, and edit entries. When “Add” an entry is chosen, Windows Mail provides you with a simple interface for data entry.

The Address or Domain Prompt for the Senders List

As is clearly stated, you add not only e-mail addresses, but also entire domains. This is both a good and a bad thing. You can add entire organizations in one fell swoop by choosing to place a domain (, for example) into the Safe Senders list. Now, everyone from the editor-in-chief to the cafeteria janitor can e-mail you, allowing you to avoid the administrative nightmare of having to add each and every employee.

Obviously, there is a flip side to this coin. If you choose to block an entire domain because a very odd employee of that company seems to have taken a particular interest in you, don’t be surprised when your friend in Marketing can’t e-mail you to inform you that the new company beach balls are in. If the entire domain is blocked, the entire domain is blocked, right?

Not really. If you block an entire domain from sending e-mail by listing the domain in the Blocked Senders list, individuals within the domain can still receive e-mails if they are specified on the Safe Senders list. The Safe Senders list has priority over the Blocked Senders list, enabling just this very thing.

Before leaving the Safe Senders and Blocked Senders tabs, let’s look at one more set of options found only on the Safe Senders tab, the auto-trust features.

At the bottom of the Safe Senders tab (see Figure 8.22) are two options for adding users to the Safe Senders list automatically. By default, anyone in your Windows Contacts is allowed to send mail to you. They are “trusted,” but not actually on your Safe Senders list. This means the list can be disposed of and their ability to e-mail you will remain. In fact, their names and e-mail addresses will never appear on the Safe Senders list.

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