A tip for those of you using Gmail in your email program

By | September 21, 2011
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When you have Gmail configured as POP3 account in you email client, the messages in the spam folder are never downloaded. So in order to make sure you’re not missing any important email, you need to log into your Gmail account with your Web browser and check the spam folder every week or so. Those who set up their Gmail accounts as IMAP accounts in their email programs won’t have to worry bout checking Gmail on the Web since folders in IMAP are synchronized between Gmail and the local email client – hence the Spam folder would show up in your email account along with all the other folders in Gmail.

Gmail, when it’s set up as a POP3 account in an email client, never downloads the emails in the spam folder — and there are no settings that allow you to download the mail from the spam folder. The only way you can check to see that there isn’t any important email in your spam folder by mistake, is to login to your account on the Web. If you find a “good” email, mistakenly labeled as spam, just mark it “Not spam” and it will be moved the mail to the Gmail Inbox. When it has been moved to your Gmail Inbox, it will be retrieved by your email client the next time you check mail.

Don’t ever assume because you’ve got Gmail set up as a POP3 in your email program, you’re downloading all your email. You’re never downloading anything from the spam folder. This is what makes using a Gmail account in your Email program a good way to fight spam – especially if you have Gmail gather your messages from your other accounts. But still, Gmail’s spam filtering isn’t perfect. No spam filtering is. We happen to think it’s the best spam filtering available right now. Gmail’s spam filtering is very good, but it is not perfect.

So if you’ve have your Gmail account set-up in your email program as a POP3 account, make sure you login to your Gmail account every week or so and go through your spam folder to make sure you’re not missing any important emails. If you don’t check your spam folder, Gmail will automatically delete its contents at intervals of its choosing and if there are any important emails in the spam folder, they’ll be gone with the spam. If your email client supports it, set up your Gmail account as a IMAP account and you won’t have to login to Gmail for anything – unless you want to change your Gmail settings.

12 thoughts on “A tip for those of you using Gmail in your email program

  1. RALPH

    Iuse windows mail in vista with a junk mail box. why would i want to use gmail?

    1. infoave Post author

      You can’t access your ISP accounts from a different computer. With Gmail you can access your email account from anywhere using any internet connected device. That’s one reason. And another reason is Windows Mail’s spam filtering isn’t very good. Gmail’s is excellent.

  2. Andy Z

    You are totally wrong on this. I have Windows 7, with Windows Live E-Mail which is set up for IMAP downloads. All I have to do is click on the SPAM folder and the SPAM e-mail is downloaded to my computer. Clicking the X for that folder deletes this SPAM from my computer, after I have had a chance to review it for potentially good e-mail. There is a catch…the SPAM will not download if the number of e-mails on the GMAIL server is excessive. In that case I must go to the GMAIL account to deal with the SPAM. The key is to deal with it every day and all of the SPAM will be downloaded to the IMAP SPAM folder. I think you should reword this webpage and tell it the way it is.

    This is not intended to demean you in any way because you have one of the best services for us computer users. Thanks for all you do and all of the great items you give us.

    1. infoave Post author

      You are right. We inadvertently said IMAP. We meant POP3 only. The post has been corrected for this. Those using POP3 will not get anything from the Spam Folder – they’ll only get what is in the Gmail inbox. IMAP synchronizes all remote folders locally, including the spam folder. Sorry about that. The post has now been updated to differentiate between POP3 and IMAP.

  3. John C

    I believe you also can set up a rule in GMail so it never sends anything to Spam… therefore, it leaves everything in your Inbox and it comes down to your mail client.

    1. infoave Post author

      There is no such rule in Gmail. You can click on an email and make sure nothing from that particular sender goes into spam. You can do this with as many senders as you like, but there is no general setting in Gmail that prevents anything from being placed in your spam folder. If you set up your Gmail in your email client as “IMAP”, all folders will be synchronized between your email client and Gmail on the Web. If you use IMAP the spam folder would be a local folder in your email client as well as a Web folder.

      1. John C

        I beg to differ. Although I haven’t been able to fully test this yet, I think the following type of Gmail rule would keep messages out of the Gmail Spam folder and send them to the local e-mail client, along with everything else in the Inbox:
        * Leave all filter (rule) settings blank except for the “Doesn’t have:” one. Type something in there like “xyzabc” (without the quotes).
        * On the next screen, check the box that says “Never send it to Spam”
        Of course this would completely defeat the purpose of Gmail Spam filtering, but it would allow you to receive ALL of your mail, via POP3, in your client inbox.

        1. infoave Post author

          You said there was a Gmail setting that prevented mail from going into the spam folder; there is not. What you’ve presented is a workaround – not a Gmail setting. So you can disagree, but you’re still incorrect There is no setting in Gmail to prevent mail from going into the spam filter. You can create message rules for anything you want, but it seems sort of counter productive since you could log-in to your Gmail account and check the spam folder once a week. Why on Earth would you want to download a bunch of spam and clutter up your hard drive. Isn’t it better to go through your spam folder and if you find one or two good emails – mark them as not spam so they are immediately placed in the inbox and downloaded to your email client – rather than downloading 50 spam emails on the chance you might have one good email. I’m sorry but this makes no sense.

          If you’re that concerned with the spam folder, you shouldn’t set up your email account as POP3 – you should set it up as IMAP. Then all your folders show up in your email account.

          Sorry to strongly disagree with you. It’s really hard to imagine why anyone would want to intentionally download a bunch of spam.

  4. Jann Muhlhauser

    i’m also using Win7 and window live mail. i get plenty of spam every day in the spam folder. whether it’s set up as pop3 or imap i have no idea, but i do know i daily get enough spam to feed an army.

    now whether this is ALL the spam, i’m not sure so i will write myself a sticky note to go check once a week or so to make sure there isn’t something perhaps missed in the download. thanks for the heads-up on that!!!

    i add my thanks to andy’s for all you do for us. i especially love the daily info ave emails. keep up the good work!!!

  5. Kins

    I just came across this page., I have 1 problem My IMAP (cartoons) will tell me to reload headers. I cannot due this, or dont know how. My messages are not being able to be sent. I don’t know the setting I should have. THank you (My main site is gmail/live mail.

  6. Corra

    I have try them all .
    After Outlook express XP
    Did make Incredimail my Mail main server USA
    This the one close to outlook express only in XP I have Gmail for international mail and for sales in EBay and Graiglist

    1. infoave Post author

      IncrediMail is an email client not an email server. So not sure what you’re saying here.


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