Thunderbird and Junk / Spam Messages

To deal with the large amount of unsolicited email ("spam" or "junk mail") that most people have to cope with, Thunderbird uses an adaptive filter that learns from your actions which messages are legitimate and which are junk.

Junk filter options

General settings

The filter is enabled by default. You can set system-wide preferences that determine what happens to messages marked as junk. These settings will be used by all your email accounts (although some settings can be overridden in the account settings, as shown below). To access the preferences, click Thunderbird | PreferencesTools | OptionsEdit | Preferences, select the Security panel and then select the Junk tab.

Junk preferences

Per account settings

The configuration in the account preferences for each of your email accounts will override similar settings in the preferences described above. Click ToolsEdit | Account Settings... and select Junk Settings in the left pane for the account to see these settings.

adaptive filter config

Training the junk filter

Tell Thunderbird what is junk

In order for this filter to be effective, you must train it to recognize the messages that you consider to be junk. To train the filter, simply mark messages as junk.

You can mark messages as junk in the message list by clicking in the "junk" column in the message list:

junk message list

You can also mark messages as junk in the message pane by clicking the Junk button on the message header:

junk message window

As you mark messages, Thunderbird learns the characteristics of your junk mail and can start automatically classifying messages.

Tell Thunderbird what is NOT junk

During the early learning stages, it is a good idea to look at the messages that have been classified as junk and un-flag any that have been incorrectly classified by clicking on the Not junk button.

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