Apple Mail - Rescue Good Messages

Summary: Automatically filter messages caught by server junk filters, moving the good messages to the inbox.
Requires: SpamSieve, Apple Mail
Install Location: ~/Library/Application Scripts/
Last Modified: 2022-12-29


The junk/spam filter on your mail server can cause problems. It is more likely than SpamSieve to mistakenly classify your good messages as spam, yet it rarely catches spam messages that SpamSieve would have missed. It’s often best simply to turn off the server junk filter, however some mail servers such as iCloud do not allow this. In such cases, this script saves you from mistakes that the server junk filter made by moving any messages that it thinks are good back to the inbox.

To install:

  1. Go through your Junk mailbox and delete or mark as read any old messages. You probably don’t want the script to process your entire spam archive, just new messages that the server filter catches.
  2. Click here to download the script. Move it to the folder /Users/<username>/Library/Application Scripts/ To access the Library folder, click on the Go menu in the Finder while holding down the Option key.
  3. Go to Mail’s Preferences window and create a new rule at the top of the list (above the SpamSieve rule) called Rescue Good Messages SpamSieve.
  4. The rule conditions should say Every Message.
  5. The rule actions should say Run AppleScript […]Apple Mail - Rescue Good Messages.scpt. First, choose Run AppleScript from the pop-up menu; then select the Apple Mail - Rescue Good Messages.scpt file (using either the pop-up menu or the Choose… button).

Now, whenever you receive a new message in the inbox, SpamSieve will look in the Junk mailbox and check any unread messages that have not already been colored as spam by SpamSieve. Any that are not spam will be moved to the inbox. Any that are spam will be colored according to their spam level and left in the Junk mailbox.

Normally, the script will run when Mail receives a new message in the inbox and applies the “Rescue Good Messages SpamSieve” rule. You can also set up the script as a standalone application. This has less overhead than running the script from within Mail, and it allows the script to run on a more predictable schedule. To do this, use Script Editor to export the script as an application (with the Stay Open option checked) and then launch the application. You can set in the “idle” handler how often it should run.

To test this script you can run it in Script Editor (a.k.a. AppleScript Editor) and look for any error messages in the Console application. You can also enable debug logging by changing pEnableDebugLogging from false to true.

Installation Instructions · Download in Compiled Format · Download in Text Format


property pMarkSpamMessagesRead : false
property pMarkGoodMessagesRead : false
property pChangeJunkStatus : true
property pColorSpamMessages : true
property pFlagSpamMessages : false
property pUnflagSpamMessages : false
property pMoveBlueMessagesToTrash : false
property pMoveGrayMessagesToTrash : false
property pMovePurpleMessagesToTrash : false
property pMoveRedMessagesToTrash : false
property pMoveOrangeMessagesToTrash : false
property pMoveYellowMessagesToTrash : false
property pEnableDebugLogging : false

on run
-- This is executed when you run the script directly.
my filterServerJunkMailboxes()
end run

on idle
-- This is executed periodically when the script is run as a stay-open application.
my filterServerJunkMailboxes()
return 60 * 5 -- Run again in 5 minutes.
end idle

using terms from application "Mail"
on perform mail action with messages _messages
-- This is executed when Mail runs the rule.
my filterServerJunkMailboxes()
end perform mail action with messages
end using terms from

on filterServerJunkMailboxes()
if application "Mail" is not running then return
tell application "Mail" to get version
on error _error number _errorNumber
if _errorNumber is -1743 then -- errAEEventNotPermitted
set _alertMessage to "You can give “Apple Mail - Rescue Good Messages” access to control Mail and SpamSieve from System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Automation. For more information, please see:"
display alert _error message _alertMessage
end if
end try
tell application "Mail"
set _mailboxes to mailboxes of junk mailbox
repeat with _mailbox in _mailboxes
my filterMailbox(_mailbox)
on error _error number _errorNumber
my logToConsole("Error " & _errorNumber & " filtering mailbox “" & _mailbox's name & "” of account “" & _mailbox's account's name & "”: " & _error)
end try
end repeat
on error _error
my logToConsole("Error filtering junk mailboxes: " & _error)
end try
end tell
end filterServerJunkMailboxes

on filterMailbox(_mailbox)
tell application "Mail"
my debugLog(my makeLogMessage("Start checking mailbox", _mailbox, ""))
set _total to count of messages of _mailbox
my debugLog(my makeLogMessage("Total messages in mailbox", _mailbox, _total))
my debugLog(my makeLogMessage("Getting unprocessed messages in mailbox", _mailbox, ""))
with timeout of 3 * 60 seconds
set _messages to messages of _mailbox whose read status is false and deleted status is false and background color is none
end timeout
my debugLog(my makeLogMessage("Messages to process in mailbox", _mailbox, count of _messages))
repeat with _message in _messages
if not my processMessageIfSpam(_message) then
if pMarkGoodMessagesRead then set _message's read status to true
my debugLog("Moving message to inbox: " & _message's subject)
move _message to inbox
end if
end repeat
my debugLog(my makeLogMessage("Finished checking mailbox", _mailbox, ""))
end tell
end filterMailbox

on processMessageIfSpam(_message)
set _source to my sourceFromMessage(_message)
tell application "SpamSieve"
set _score to score message _source without auto training
end tell
tell application "Mail"
my debugLog("Spam score of message is " & _score & ": " & _message's subject)
set _isSpam to _score ≥ 50
if pChangeJunkStatus then
set _message's junk mail status to _isSpam
end if
if _isSpam and pMarkSpamMessagesRead then
set _message's read status to true
end if
set _moveToTrash to my colorMessageAndDecideIfShouldMoveToTrash(_message, _score)
if _moveToTrash then
delete _message
else if _isSpam then
my debugLog("Leaving spam message in Junk: " & _message's subject)
end if
return _isSpam
end tell
end processMessageIfSpam

on colorMessageAndDecideIfShouldMoveToTrash(_message, _score)
tell application "Mail"
set _table to
blue, pMoveBlueMessagesToTrash, 6}, ¬
gray, pMoveGrayMessagesToTrash, 5}, ¬
purple, pMovePurpleMessagesToTrash, 4}, ¬
red, pMoveRedMessagesToTrash, 3}, ¬
orange, pMoveOrangeMessagesToTrash, 2}, ¬
yellow, pMoveYellowMessagesToTrash, 1}, ¬
none, false, -1}}
-- Flag colors chosen so that messages sort by spamminess: gray, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, none
repeat with _row in _table
set {_threshold, _color, _moveToTrash, _flagColor} to _row
if _score_threshold then
if pColorSpamMessages then
set _message's background color to _color
end if
if pUnflagSpamMessages then
set _message's flag index to -1
end if
if pFlagSpamMessages then
set _message's flag index to _flagColor
end if
return _moveToTrash
end if
end repeat
end tell
end colorMessageAndDecideIfShouldMoveToTrash

-- Logging

on debugLog(_message)
if pEnableDebugLogging then my logToConsole(_message)
end debugLog

on logToConsole(_message)
set _logMessage to "SpamSieve [Apple Mail Rescue Good Messages] " & _message
do shell script "/usr/bin/logger -s " & _logMessage's quoted form
end logToConsole

on makeLogMessage(_action, _mailbox, _detail)
return _action & " " & my describeMailbox(_mailbox) & ": " & _detail
end makeLogMessage

on describeMailbox(_mailbox)
tell application "Mail"
set _mailboxName to _mailbox's name
set _accountName to name of _mailbox's account
on error
set _accountName to "On My Mac"
end try
return "“" & _accountName & "” / “" & _mailboxName & "”"
end tell
end describeMailbox

-- Logging Helpers

on sourceFromMessage(_message)
tell application "Mail"
my debugLog(my makeLogMessage("Getting source of message in", _message's mailbox, _message's subject))
return _message's source
end tell
end sourceFromMessage