Mac Musings

POPmonitor 2: Kissing Spam Goodbye

Dan Knight - 2003.10.08 - Tip Jar

I gets hundreds of spam emails every day at the dozen or so email addresses I've created over the years. Hundreds.

And for quite a while, I've been using the free POPmonitor 1.1 program to check eight of those mailboxes and manually remove spam. It takes 10-20 minutes each morning, and I download my email once after using POPmonitor. Then I do it again the next day (except for weekends - I need a break from the steady stream of email).

I sort each mailbox by the date, since one very popular piece of spamware dates all outgoing messages with Jan 2001 dates. Then I sort by email address - if I'm not the primary recipient, it's probably going to be deleted. And then I sort by subject and begin to delete ones with no subjects, incomprehensible subjects, and subject lines that indicate that they're probably spam.

POPmonitor 1.1 helps the process by letting you view the first X lines of a message (you get to pick X), so when in doubt, you can check the message while it's still on the server.

I'm sure at least half the messages I get each day are spam, and by eliminating them on the server I reduce download time, eliminate the need to wade through them in Claris Emailer 2, PowerMail 3.1.2, or the current version of Apple's OS X Mail application.

This morning I decided I'd had enough of that. POPmonitor 2 has been out for quite a while. It's OS X native (there's also a version for OS 8 and later), can automatically delete email, and only costs US$25 more than the freeware version that takes so much of my time. Time to bite the bullet, fork over the bucks, and let the Mac take out the trash for me.

POPmonitor 2 comes with a boatload of spam filters, which I loaded. Now it's checking a dozen mailboxes at startup as well as every hour in search of email. When it finds spam, it deletes it from the server.

With POPmonitor 2, I can also view the first X lines of incoming email. If I determine that it's spam, I can look through the header and the body to find the key word or phrase that I can use to create a new filter - and the next time a "US doctor" offers to sell medications from a "US pharmacy," POPmonitor 2 will intercept and eliminate the spam for me.

To prevent POPmonitor from eliminating messages from mailing lists I subscribe to and others, I can use the trusted sender feature to specify users and domains that don't need to be filtered. I can also create a user and domain blacklist.

I never should have waited this long to upgrade to the shareware version. I figure I spend a minimum of an hour a week manually deleting spam from the various servers. The US$25 shareware fee more than justifies itself in terms of time saved during the first month alone.

And it gives Apple's Mail application less spam to miss with its junk mail filter, which is still quite inaccurate despite 9 months of use.

Although it would be nice to try to sue some spammer under Michigan's very strong anti-spam laws, I'd much rather not have to deal with the spam at all. POPmonitor 2 lets me do that.

If you're inundated by spam, give it a try.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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