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3.13   iPhone Spam Filtering

Your Mac as the Spam Filter

Due to limitations of the iOS platform, there is not currently an iPhone version of SpamSieve. However, you can use SpamSieve on your Mac to keep the spam off your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The Mac has much more bandwidth and processing power, so it makes sense to do the spam filtering there, anyway. When you check for mail on your iPhone, you won’t waste time or battery power downloading or processing spam messages.

IMAP Mail Accounts to Synchronize Your Mailboxes

To use SpamSieve with your iPhone, you’ll need to set both the Mac and the iPhone to connect to your mail server using the IMAP (or Exchange) mail protocol. Macworld has an article about this. Most providers support both IMAP and the older POP protocol, but some only support POP. Apple’s iCloud service automatically uses IMAP. If your provider does not support IMAP, there are various inexpensive mail hosts that offer IMAP accounts using your own domain name.

When using IMAP, all computers and iPhones that connect to the same mail account will share the same mailboxes, and they will be synchronized automatically. (The syncing happens when you open the Mail application, not when you connect the Mac and iPhone and sync in iTunes.) When your mail program is running on your Mac, it will periodically check for new mail. New messages will arrive in the inbox, and SpamSieve will move the spam messages to the spam mailbox. When the iPhone checks for new mail, the spam messages will generally already have been moved out of the inbox.

If the iPhone happens to see a new spam message before the Mac does, it will appear in the inbox for a short while. When the Mac sees it, it will move it to the spam mailbox and it will disappear from the inbox on the iPhone. The iPhone supports push e-mail, which lets it see new messages instantly. If you receive a lot of spam, you may prefer to turn off the push feature. That will give the Mac a chance to filter the messages before you see them on the iPhone.

Converting Your Apple Mail Setup to IMAP

The remainder of this section discusses how to setup Apple Mail to keep spam off your iPhone. A similar setup will also work with other mail programs that support IMAP.

  1. Choose Preferences… from the Mail menu and click on Accounts. Your account(s) will be listed at the left of the window. If it already says IMAP or iCloud under your account, there’s nothing more that you need to do.
  2. If it says POP, you will need to disable the POP account and create a new IMAP one. Click on the POP account and make note of the contents of the Account Information tab. Click on the Advanced tab. Uncheck Include when automatically checking for new mail. Then click the Remove now button to remove from the server any messages that you’ve already downloaded.
  3. Click the + button at the bottom of the window and follow the steps to create a new account. Choose IMAP for the account type. For the server and login, enter the information that you noted for the POP account. (Note: some providers use a different incoming mail server name for IMAP.) Put “IMAP” at the end of the description so that you can tell this account apart from the old one.
  4. You should now be able to check for mail, and Mail will be using IMAP instead of POP. There will be two sets of mailboxes (Inbox, Sent, etc.) in the main window. If desired, you can go to each of these mailboxes and drag the messages from the old mailboxes to the IMAP ones. Otherwise, the old messages will be hidden when you disable the POP account.
  5. Go back to Mail’s Preferences window, click on the POP account, and click the Advanced tab. Then uncheck Enable this account. You will be using the new IMAP account instead, although the old POP settings, and any messages that you didn’t transfer to the IMAP mailboxes, will still be available should you want to go back to the old setup.
  6. On your iOS device, tap on Settings ‣ Mail, Contacts, Calendars. For each of your accounts, tap on the account name. At the top of the account settings it should say IMAP or Exchange. If it says POP, you will need to deactivate that account on the iPhone (by sliding the switch next to the Mail setting) and then choose Add Account to re-add your account as IMAP or Exchange.

That’s all you need to do, but some more advanced configurations are also possible:

Remote Spam Mailbox

With the above setup, the Inbox, Sent mailbox, and any mailboxes that you create on the server are shared between the Mac and the iPhone. The spam messages are removed from the server and stored locally in the Spam mailbox on the Mac. This is faster, and it means that the spam messages won’t count towards your server quota.

Some users prefer to store the Spam mailbox on the server. This way, if SpamSieve accidentally puts a good message in the Spam mailbox, you can access the message on the iPhone when away from the Mac. To do this, see Using a Spam Mailbox on the Server.

Remote Training

If you’ll be away from your Mac for long periods of time, you can train SpamSieve directly from the iPhone. Correcting mistakes promptly will keep SpamSieve running at peak accuracy.

The Setting Up a Spam Filtering Drone section describes how to setup Mail for remote training. To train SpamSieve, use the iPhone’s Mail application to move messages into either the TrainGood or TrainSpam mailbox.

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