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7.7   Why does a message disappear or go back to the spam mailbox after I train it as good?

When you train a message in the spam mailbox as good, SpamSieve normally moves it back to the inbox. Mac Mail programs do not automatically re-apply rules (or SpamSieve) to old messages, so normally the message will stay in the inbox. However, there are several reasons that a message might stay in the Spam mailbox, “bounce back” to the Spam mailbox, or disappear from the Spam mailbox but not appear in the inbox:

  1. When you train a message as good, SpamSieve will purposely leave it in its current mailbox if:

    • You’ve used the Change Settings command to tell SpamSieve not to move trained messages to the inbox. Please see the Change Settings (Apple Mail) and Change Settings (Outlook) sections of the manual for more information.
    • SpamSieve thinks the message is not in a spam mailbox or the trash. SpamSieve knows common names of spam/junk mailboxes. You can each it a custom name using the Change Settings command.
  2. When SpamSieve moves the message to the inbox, a server filter or a mail program on another computer may see the message as new and move it elsewhere. The other computer might think the message is spam and move it right back to the shared server spam mailbox. Or, if the other computer is using a local spam mailbox, it would move the message off the server and into the spam mailbox on that computer. This would make it appear—on the first computer—as though the message had disappeared, but it would still be acessible in the local mailbox on the second computer.

    For more information about multi-computer setups, please see the SpamSieve and Multiple Macs section. You can also use the Change Settings (Apple Mail) command to tell SpamSieve not to mark messages as unread when you train them as good. This may prevent other computers from seeing them as new messages.

  3. If the message is moved to the inbox of an account that’s marked as inactive/disabled in Mail’s preferences, it will not be visible in Mail because that inbox is hidden. Normally, SpamSieve only moves messages to the inbox of an enabled account, however there is a bug in the macOS 10.15 Catalina version of Apple Mail that causes an error when SpamSieve asks if an account is enabled (FB7035263). Thus, if the disabled account is the best match for the message, SpamSieve could move it there.

    You can enable the account in Mail’s preferences to view its inbox and find the “missing” messages. Currently, the best way to avoid this problem is to not have any disabled accounts in Mail; either enable them or delete them if they are no longer needed.

  4. The message might be in an inbox, just not in the one that you expected. Please see the Why do good messages move to the wrong inbox when trained in Apple Mail? section.

  5. It’s possible that moving a message can make it disappear from Apple Mail if Mail’s database is damaged. The message file is usually still visible on your Mac and on the server. To make the message re-appear in Mail, please see the How can I rebuild Apple Mail’s database? section.

  6. Messages can “bounce back” to the spam mailbox due to being refiltered by another computer (#2), having a disabled account (#3), a server error, or a damaged Mail database (#5).

If you want to be extra careful to prevent any potential problems when moving messages, you can use the Change Settings command to tell SpamSieve not to ask Mail to move messages when training. You can also Option-drag a message to another mailbox to make a backup copy of it.

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