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7.13.1   Why does the “Junk” mailbox appear in Apple Mail?

The Junk Mailbox

The Setting Up Apple Mail instructions have you turn off Mail’s built-in junk mail filter, so it will not put messages in the Junk mailbox. However, it is normal for Mail to still show the Junk mailbox. (Older versions of macOS would always hide the Junk mailbox when Mail’s filter was disabled.)

SpamSieve itself normally puts spam messages in the Spam mailbox, unless you’ve changed this as described in the Changing the Name of the Spam Mailbox section. You can tell which messages SpamSieve itself has processed by looking in the log.

If your mail server has its own junk filter, it is normal for that filter to put spam messages in the Junk mailbox. Because the messages are filtered at the server level, they never arrive in your inbox. Your Mac therefore does not see them as new messages, so it does not apply your regular Mail rules (or the SpamSieve rule) to them. Since these messages are not SpamSieve mistakes, you should not train them as spam.

The How should I configure the junk filter on my mail server? section has more information about server junk filters, how SpamSieve interacts with them, and how they can be turned off.

The Consolidating Spam From Multiple Filters section has more information about what to do if you don’t want your spam to be split between two mailboxes, Spam and Junk.

iCloud’s Junk Filter

As of April 2015, Apple has made its iCloud server junk filter much more aggressive. It is putting a lot more spam messages (and also some good ones) into the Junk mailbox. It also deletes some messages so that they do not appear in any mailbox. This affects all,, and e-mail accounts.

There is no way to turn off iCloud’s junk filter and prevent it from putting messages in the Junk mailbox. There are, however, various ways to make SpamSieve put its spam into the same mailbox that iCloud’s junk filter uses. SpamSieve can even re-filter the messages in the Junk mailbox to rescue good messages that iCloud put there. However, there is no way to rescue messages that were deleted without being saved into a mailbox. Since iCloud’s junk filter cannot be disabled, your only choice is whether or not to use iCloud’s mail service as a whole. If iCloud is not meeting your needs, we recommend switching to a different mail provider.

The Junk Bar and Messages Marked as Junk

It is normal for Mail to show a brown bar above some messages that SpamSieve or a server filter classified as spam. SpamSieve marks the messages as junk to protect you from Web bugs. Do not click the Not Junk button. If the message is not spam, you should instead choose SpamSieve - Train as Good from the Message menu.

apple mail junk bar

apple mail junk bar mavericks

Messages Moved to Invisible Junk Mailbox

In some cases—particularly prior to macOS 10.9—a server junk filter may move messages to a Junk mailbox that is hidden in Mail. This happens because Mail’s own junk filter is off, so Mail hides the special Junk mailbox, not knowing that the server is using it. To fix this, you can tell Mail to use a different mailbox as the special Junk mailbox so that it hides that mailbox, and then makes the server’s mailbox visible:

  1. Choose Mailbox ‣ New Mailbox… to create a new mailbox inside your server account. Call the mailbox HiddenJunk.
  2. Tell Mail to show it under the special Junk mailbox.
    • On macOS 10.12 and later, go to Preferences ‣ Accounts ‣ Mailbox Behaviors and choose HiddenJunk from the Junk Mailbox pop-up menu.
    • On macOS 10.11 and earlier, select the HiddenJunk mailbox and choose Mailbox ‣ Use This Mailbox As ‣ Junk Mailbox.
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