Thursday, June 3, 2010

De-spammify your smart phone for free!

If your email provider is a large one such as Comcast, AT&T or Yahoo your mail is scrubbed of spam at the source so that it never even reaches your inbox. But the rest of us have to use anti-spam software on our desktop computer for spam filtering. Smart phones, however, don’t have built-in spam filtering so you get to see all the junk all the time. I receive an enormous amount of spam ranging from offers of millions in cash from deposed kings, larger body parts and “free sexy singles” (which, surprisingly, is not an advertisement for Wendy’s hamburgers). I had so much spam that my iPhone was almost useless for emailing. Out of desperation, I searched and found a beautiful solution to this issue that I’d like to share with you.

Google has a free email service called Gmail. Gmail is well-known for its excellent spam filtering capabilities. I’m going to tell you how to use Gmail’s spam filtering to rid your phone of unwanted spam forever. The plan here is to allow Gmail to retrieve your POP email, scrub it of spam, then deliver the clean mail to your phone. For simplicity, I’ll be referring to your spammified email address as “POP” which is geek for Post Office Protocol.

Using your desktop computer, the first step is to create a Gmail email account by visiting It’s easy and free. Since the goal here is to eliminate spam, I suggest you use a hard-to-guess email address. Once you set up your account, log in and click on the “Settings” link in the upper right corner of the page then click on “Accounts and Import.” Next, click on “Check mail using POP3” and enter the email settings for your POP email address. This setting allows Gmail to pull your mail from your POP account and process it. Be sure to click on the link to “Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server” so that when you get back to the office, your desktop computer can still download your mail.
When you reply to an email from your new Gmail account, you want that mail to appear as if you sent it from your POP account, not Gmail. There is a “Send Mail As” setting for that that is obvious so I won’t go into detail here.

The last step is to add your new Gmail address to your smart phone. There are so many different smart phones that I simply can’t tell you how to do that in this little column. Suffice it to say that there are ample help files located at that guide you through the process for your particular phone.

By the way, Gmail allows you to configure standard desktop mail clients (i.e. Outlook) to download mail so that this same technique for de-spammifying your smart phone can also be used for your desktop. Configuration can be a bit of a chore for the uninitiated but that is why evolution produced nerds like me. You are welcomed to call me if you get stuck.

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