You can configure your junk filter settings (your primary tool to block spam) to control, to some extent, the amount of junk emails that reach your inbox (and Windows Live Mail's filters are "
adaptive": that means that they learn as you mark emails as "
Junk" or "
Not junk", and get better with time!). But you've surely come across the case where a legitimate sender's emails always get flagged as spam, and moved to the Junk E-mail folder, or the reverse case where a spammer's messages keep finding their way to your inbox. Windows Live Mail includes a series of tools to block or allow emails from specific senders and domains. (The "
domain" is the part of the email address that comes after the "
@" symbol). There are four lists: the Blocked Senders list lets you add people whose email should never reach your inbox; the Safe Senders list (covered later) lets you add trusted contacts and domains (same as organizations, in this case) thereby overriding the spam filter! A later tutorial will show you how the lists under "International List" let you block messages by country, using the Top-Level Domain (
TLD), or by language encoding.
Note: if Windows Live Mail perceives a message to be a phishing email, it will move it to the Junk folder, for your protection. This makes sense, since phishing scams are often successful by hijacking an innocent person's email account, and using it to send phishing attempts to its address book contacts!
There are two ways of adding an email address to your blocked senders list: if you have a message from that particular sender in your inbox (or other email folder), right-click on it and select the "Junk email" submenu. Then, click on the "Add sender to blocked sender list" menu item. (Note that this only works when a single message is selected, even if they all came from the same sender - that's just how Windows Live Mail works :)
As soon as you do, you'll get a "
The sender of the selected message has been added to your Blocked Sender List and the message has been moved to the Junk email folder" confirmation message. Unless you check the "Don't show me this again" checkbox, Windows Live Mail will keep displaying that dialog whenever you block someone. It might be tempting to turn off that notification, but it's safer to leave it on: what if you ever block a legitimate sender by accident? With that popup, your mistake won't go unnoticed! Click OK to dismiss it:
Tip: you may be used to webmail providers whose Deleted Items and Junk Mail folders automatically get emptied. This is to conserve space on the mail server, which typically runs on very expensive hard drives! As long as Windows Live Mail moves your blocked emails to the local Junk folder, you can retrieve them later and restore them back into your inbox (or another folder).
The second way? Directly access your blocked list to manually add email addresses. To do so, click on the "
Windows Live Mail" button (top left corner of main window), choose "Options", and select "Safety options" (equivalent keyboard shortcut of Alt+F, O, S).
Important: if you are adding a bunch of email addresses to your blocked list (or your safe list - it works the same way!), make sure to save your changes regularly by clicking on the Apply button. If you accidentally hit the escape key (Esc), the Safety Options dialog will close, without saving any changes made since you opened the dialog or clicked "Apply" (whichever came later).
When the Safety Options dialog opens, click on the "Blocked Senders" tab to view your blocked senders list: you'll see an alphabetically sorted list of all addresses and domains that are currently blocked: this is where senders are automatically added when you right-click on their emails to block them, as explained above.
To block email messages from a new person, click on the Add button. Type the email address you want to block in its full form (username, "
@" symbol, and domain name), and click OK (or hit Enter). Remember this manual approach: while less convenient, that's the only way you can block senders when you don't have a message from them on which to right-click!
Tip: the email address you just entered is automatically placed in the right alphabetical location. If you are not sure that it was added, just scroll to through the list: capitalization doesn't affect the way addresses are sorted.
Tip # 2: if you made a typo, just click on the email address to select it in the list, and click on the Edit button - make the correction and hit Enter.
To prevent people from a certain organization from contacting you, you can block their entire domain: this is the part of email addresses that comes after the "
@annoyingspammers.com" to your blocked domains list. Any time Windows Live Mail sees an incoming message from a person whose email address ends like this, it will automatically move it to the Junk E-mail folder. (Note: Windows Live Mail uses the same list to keep track of your blocked domains and email addresses.)
Tip: your blocked domain list can include domains also found in one or more blocked email addresses. If you've already entered emails from that domain, don't delete them, in case you change your mind and decide to unblock the domain, but would still like to block these particular email addresses!
From the same Safety Options dialog, with the "Blocked Senders" tab selected, click on the Add button: this time, enter only a domain (that's the part of an email address that comes after the "
@", but without entering the "
@" symbol itself), like this: Then, click on the OK button, or hit Enter, to add the domain to the listing. From this point on, Windows Live Mail will automatically move to the Junk E-mail folder all messages from people whose email address ends with this domain! To end their exile for future emails, just delete the domain in the blocked senders list (select it and click Remove).
FYI: by default, blocked senders don't know that they were blocked, since their emails do go through. Their messages just get moved out of sight, into the Junk folder! But Windows Live Mail includes a setting that lets you bounce blocked senders emails back to them (not always a desirable approach).
By default, the only thing that happens when Windows Live Mail encounters a message from a blocked sender or blocked domain is that the message will be moved to the Junk E-mail folder. In itself, the fact that the email gets moved there won't report the sender as spammer (to do this, you need to manually report the message as junk mail). But Windows Live Mail includes a couple of options that let you be more proactive when you encounter messages deemed suspicious by Windows Live Mail:
In the same "Blocked Senders" tab, notice the two checkboxes at the very bottom: checking the "Bounce the blocked message back to the sender" checkbox is bad for two reasons (probably why it's unchecked by default!) First, it's difficult to be more offensive than letting someone know that his emails are unimportant enough to be blocked. Don't burn bridges! Second, if the email address you block is monitored by a spammer, the message bounce back will give him confirmation that your email account is active. So, our recommendation is that you leave that checkbox unchecked! Here are the Delete and block and Allow sender links you'll come across for some messages in your inbox:
You can check the second checkbox if you want ("If the email is a newsletter, unsubscribe me from the mailing list"). This is designed for newsletters that don't include an "unsubscribe me" or "manage my account" -type of link at the bottom (by law, all email newsletters are supposed to include an easy to use unsubscription mechanism).
What if you blocked an email address by accident? Moving that person's email back to your inbox won't affect their "
blocked" status. It just moves the message, without effect on future emails. Instead, right-click on the accidentally blocked message, choose "Junk email" from the context menu that opens, and select "Add sender to safe sender list" (that's if you want that person as a safe sender - otherwise see the next section).
Windows Live Mail will show you the "
The sender of the selected message has been added to your Safe Sender list" confirmation message, but unlike what you might have expected, it didn't move that sender's messages back to the inbox (or to whichever folder that message originally came from). Here too, we recommend that you leave the "Don't show me this again" checkbox unchecked. Seeing that popup is your cue that you successfully added a new address to your Safe Senders list (especially useful, since no email is moved to give you another clue!)
Important repeat! Adding a sender to your Safe Senders list will NOT move that person's email from Junk folder back into inbox. Remember to manually move ALL that person's messages after you've marked her address as safe!
If you want to unblock a sender, without necessarily adding that person to your Safe Senders list, proceed as follows (and note that this is one more way Windows Live Mail lets you access your blocked and safe senders lists :) In the ribbon, click on dropdown arrow of the "Junk / Not junk" button, and select "Safety Options".
When the Safety Options dialog opens, select the "Blocked Senders" tab: you'll see a listing of all the email addresses you've blocked since you installed Windows Live Mail.
To unblock a sender's email address, just click on it to select it in the listing, and click on the "Remove" button: from this point on, Windows Live Mail will no longer block emails from that person. Remember that any message that person sent you since you blocked him/her are still in the Junk E-mail folder, in case you want to restore or save them!