Troubleshooting Apple’s Junk Mail Filter

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Spam filters are a necessary evil and it’s annoying when they don’t work as expected. Apple offers junk mail filtering in Apple Mail as well as via iCloud.com. Unfortunately those two filters are not related to each other and thus can cause troubles and frustration.

Apple Mail’s Junk Mail Filter

Apple Mail has a built-in spam filter that you can enable or disable via Mail’s Preferences. Unfortunately, Apple Mail’s spam filtering capabilities are somewhat unreliable and I recently decided to disable it, in favor of a 3rd party solution.

Apple Mail: Junk Mail Preferences
Apple Mail: Junk Mail Preferences

I heard a lot of good things about SpamSieve and decided to give it a try. After the installation, I configured SpamSieve to move all messages, identified as spam, into a separate folder called ‘Spam‘, instead of Apple Mail’s default ‘Junk‘ folder.

iCloud’s Junk Mail Filter

I was positively surprised by SpamSieve’s performance but noticed that certain messages, some of which weren’t spam, still ended up in the old ‘Junk’ mailbox. I double-checked all my Macs to make sure none had the native junk mail filter enabled. Puzzled by how that could happen, I contacted Apple Support via Twitter and they responded that iCloud also does junk mail filtering on the backend. They also indicated that, unfortunately, that backend filter cannot be turned off.

Apple Mail: Junk mailbox