Trick, Gmail: finding new spam addressed to you

Here’s a helpful hint for those of you who use Gmail and get a lot of spam.

Gmail’s spam filters are pretty excellent when it comes to spam. I get a lot of spam and rarely does one slip by into my inbox. However I also want to check if real messages (ham) got put in the spam folder by mistake. Here’s how I check to see if something was flagged incorrectly without having to look through every single unread spam message, of which there could be hundreds piled up.

In the search box at the top of Gmail I enter the following terms:

is:spam is:unread to:me

Then I do a quick once-over, select all, then mark as read. That way I only bring up those spams that are new and those that were actually addressed to me instead of those spams delivered to me but not addressed to me. You see, in email world there’s a difference between where the message is delivered and to whom the message is addressed. In the USPS analogue, it would be like getting your neighbor’s mail in your mailbox, except with email everything you get delivered was 100% intended for your mailbox (and you get to open it, unlike opening someone else’s postal mail, which is a federal offense). If you’re on a mailing list you may notice that the to: field doesn’t contain your name. Some of my friends also do this as a way to email a bunch of folks without giving away their addresses to everyone on the list. It’s basically a bcc (blind carbon copy). When you bcc someone, you’re telling the email server to deliver the email to them without addressing the email to them. Make sense?

Okay, enough of that. I just thought I would help out a friend or two of mine who use Gmail.


Author: PhilRW

software engineer, pianist, polymath

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