How to Clean up the Spam in Your Gmail Account

By David Weedmark

Like many email services, Gmail uses a smart filter to determine if messages should go into your Inbox or your Spam folder. Each time you mark a message as spam, the filter uses information in the message to better detect unwanted, bulk, commercial email in the future. The more often you report messages as spam, the smarter the filter becomes and the less spam lands in your Inbox. You can use a search filter to quickly sort spam from your Inbox. You can then save that filter to send future spam directly to the Trash without it ever appearing in your Inbox again.

Cleaning out Spam

Step 1

Log into your Gmail account in a new Web-browser window. Select "Inbox" in the left-column menu. Click the arrow located on the right side of the Search field to reveal the search options.

Step 2

Type search criteria that applies to much of the spam you have received into the appropriate search field. For example, you can type a name, email address or partial email address in the "From" field. You can also type words that are used in the spam messages in the "Has the Words" text fields. Note that if you type more than one word in these fields, any messages without one of those words will not be selected.

Step 3

Click the "Search" button. All emails that fall within your search criteria are displayed. Scan the results to ensure only spam is now displayed.

Step 4

Click the "Select" button below the Search field and select "All." Click the "Report Spam" button (a circle with an exclamation mark) that now appears to the left of the Select button. The spam is reported to Google and is deleted from your Inbox.

Filtering Future Spam

Step 1

Click the Arrow beside the Search field on your Gmail page. Type an email address belonging to a spam account in the "From" field. Alternatively, you can filter all email coming from a domain by typing the domain name in the From field. This is the part of the address following the "@" symbol. You can also type words in the "Has the Words" text fields that contain spam, but that your friends and colleagues would never use.

Step 2

Select the "Delete It" option, then click the "Create Filter" button. Any incoming messages using your search criteria will automatically be sent to your Trash folder.

Step 3

Open your Trash folder from time to time and mark the spam by selecting the messages and clicking the "Report Spam" button.

Step 4

Edit your filter at any time by clicking the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the Gmail window. Select settings, then click the "Filters" tab. Click "Edit" then change the filter as desired. Click "Edit Filter Actions," then "Update Filter" to save the changes. You can also click "Delete" to permanently delete the filter.

Removing Messages From the Spam Folder

Step 1

Review the contents of your Spam and Trash folders at least once a month to ensure nonspam messages have not been placed there. Messages in the Spam and Trash folders are automatically deleted after 30 days.

Step 2

Select any message that was incorrectly marked as spam and click the "Not Spam" button to remove it from the Spam folder.

Step 3

Select for permanent deletion any individual spam message in the Spam folder by clicking the check box on the left of the message. Alternatively, select all of the messages in the folder by clicking the "Select" button above the messages and selecting "All." Click "Delete Forever" to permanently delete the selected messages. When the Spam folder is empty, Gmail will display the message: "Hooray! No Spam Here!"

Step 4

Create a filter to ensure the sender's messages are not placed in the Spam folder again. Copy the name or email address of the sender. Click the Arrow beside the search field and paste the name into the "From" field.

Step 5

Click the "Create Filter With This Search Link," then select the "Never Send It To Spam" option. Click the "Create Filter" button. Messages from this sender will always be placed in your Inbox.

Tips & Warnings

  • Another way of ensuring someone's messages are not mistakenly sent to the Spam folder is to add the person's email address to your Gmail contact list.