Handling Spam in Gmail on your PC

More than 60% of our members are now using Gmail. This page has been specifically designed to help those people to find valid emails which have been wrongly placed in their Spam folder.

If you read and manage your Gmail using the Gmail App for Smartphones and Tablets, click here for more specific instructions. If you handle your emails on your PC, keep reading…

Gmail has a “Learning Spam Engine” and you can, over time, teach it what you regard as spam and what you do not.

In the first instance, where possible, unwanted emails (eg corporate mailers) should always be “Unsubscribed” using the Unsubscribe option rather than flagging them as Spam. This prevents the Spam Engine from wrongly assuming these items are spam when processing other people’s email.

For instructions on how to highlight genuine spam found in your Inbox, go to the Step 5 below

If you are finding that important emails regularly end up in your Spam Folder, here’s a set of instructions to follow which will “teach” Gmail that you want them delivered directly into your Inbox. You may have to repeat this process several times but in most cases, Gmail will learn quite quickly!

This process can only be undertaken using the WebMail version of Gmail which all users have access to – just follow these instructions… (you may find it useful to print them off before starting)

Step 1 – Accessing Gmail’s Webmail

Click this link and your preferred browser will start and take you directly to Gmail

If you’ve used Gmail’s Webmail before, you’ll probably bypass these sign-in screens as Gmail will remember who you are but the first time, you will have to login as below


Enter your email account name
This is the part before the @gmail.com
e.g for joe.bloggs51@gmail.com
just enter joe.bloggs51

Press the Next button




The password screen will now appear

You will only get this far if you entered a valid email account name

Type in your Gmail password
NB Most people rarely use this password so you may have to look it up to be sure

When you are sure you have entered your password correctly, press the Next button



It is highly probable that you will now be presented with this Protect your account screen

If you don’t have a recovery phone number and recovery email, this is a great opportunity to enter them. Use your mobile phone number and an email address of a partner, family or neighbour you can trust.

These Recovery contacts will only be used if you forget your password in the future but it is virtually important to have them entered now and validated.

Click the Done button when you are ready to proceed.

Step 2 Reviewing the Spam Folder

Once you’re logged in, you’ll see your Inbox. If you normally use an email client like Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird or MS Outlook, the Gmail Inbox will exactly match your client’s Inbox

Down the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see a list of folders like this

If you don’t see the Spam folder, you may have to scroll down a bit then click v More
and it will appear

Now, click Spam to display the Spam folder contents

You’ll see all the Spam emails you’ve received in the last 30 days.

Step 3 Marking Items as Not Spam

Carefully check the list and for any items you are absolutely sure are not Spam, click the small tick box beside the senders name (eg any emails from SeniorNet Kapiti Inc)
Once you’ve ticked all the valid, non-spam emails, click the Not Spam button at the top of the screen (circled above)

Now, click the Inbox on the left to return to your Inbox. You should now see that all the items you marked earlier have been moved out of Spam and into your
Inbox. You have now also “educated” the Gmail Spam Engine about what you regard as Spam and, more importantly, what you do not.

Step 4 Repeating the Process

If you are having problems with missing emails, always use this process to check whether they have landed in the Spam Folder. Following these instructions once or twice will normally “educate” Gmail and rectify the problem. Persistence pays!

Step 5 Identifying Spam that Gmail missed

On the rare occasions that Gmail misses real spam and places it in your Inbox, you also need to “educate” the Spam Engine.

Identify the Spam email in your Inbox and click the tick-box. Additional options will then appear at the top of the list. Once you have ticked all the spam items in your Inbox, click the Report Spam icon – circled here with a ! in the middle.
The spam items you have identified will be moved to the Spam Folder and automatically deleted after 30 days. This “educates” the Spam Engine and normally you won’t see messages from this sender again. If you do, repeat the process.

A Final Note

It needs to be emphasised that the process of “educating” the Gmail Spam Engine can only be done in this way. Moving unwanted emails from the Inbox to the Spam folder using your email client (Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird or MS Outlook) does not work.

The Report Spam and Not Spam buttons in the WebMail program described here (and in the Gmail App for smartphones and Tablets) are the only way you can send a message to Gmail about your spam preferences.

Finally, any Junk Folders created by older email clients like Windows Live Mail do not actually tell Gmail your preferences – they are just a legacy of the past and quite ineffective in controlling modern spam

Remember, if you have any difficulty following these instructions, come to a scheduled How Do I…? Workshop at SeniorNet Kapiti – remember to bring your Gmail password.

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