Junk Mail in Outlook 2016 for Mac


Outlook 2016 for Mac (aka Outlook for Mac for Office 365) has some changes compared to Outlook for Mac 2011 in regards to Junk Email Protection. This blog post will explain how Outlook 2016 for Mac handles Junk Email Protection. Please see the previous Blog post Junk Mail in Outlook for Mac 2011 for more information on how Outlook for Mac 2011 handles Junk Email Protection.

The first item to understand is that there are two types of junk email filtering: sever-side and client-side. Server-side junk filtering takes place on the mail server (such as Exchange) as soon as email arrives in the mailbox.  Client-side junk filtering takes place on the client (such as Outlook & Outlook for Mac) when the email is downloaded from the server to the client.

Outlook 2016 for Mac does not provide any client-side junk mail protection for any type of account (Exchange, POP, or IMAP). Instead, it relies solely on the mail server to perform all junk email filtering. Emails are not scanned client-side by Outlook 2016 for Mac to determine if they are junk email. Exchange servers provide server-side junk mail filtering, and most popular email providers, such as Hotmail, Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo, provide server-side junk mail filtering, making client-side Outlook junk filtering redundant.

It’s important to understand that junk mail filtering and blocked senders are not the same thing, although they are often used in conjunction. Junk filtering is when emails headers and content is scanned for characteristics that makes the email likely to be junk. When you add an email address to the Blocked Senders list, emails from that email address are always moved to the Junk E-Mail folder. I’ll cover Blocked Senders in Exchange 2013 and Blocked Senders for POP, IMAP or Exchange 2010 accounts in more depth later in this blog post.

Under the Outlook menu, Preferences, Junk in Outlook 2016 for Mac, you will find that there is no longer a Junk Email Protection Level setting, as there was in Outlook for Mac 2011. This is shown in the image below.


Outlook 2016 for Mac no longer has the "Level" tab as Outlook for Mac 2011 did.

Note: While Outlook for Mac 2011 did contain the Junk Email Protection Level settings, when connected to an Exchange account, it did not perform any junk email scanning. It relied solely on the Exchange server to perform all junk email filtering.

 


Safe Senders

When connected to IMAP, POP or an Exchange 2010 mailbox, Outlook 2016 for Mac allows you to add safe senders. However, safe senders are client-side only and do not synchronize to the server. Because Outlook 2016 for Mac does not perform any junk mail filtering, client-side safe senders no longer have any use. To explain further, I’ll use an example. Imaging that you run Outlook 2011 for Mac with client-side junk mail filtering enabled. You receive a newsletter regularly that is always found to be Junk by the junk filtering and moved to the Junk E-Mail folder. This newsletter is not junk to you, so you add the senders email address to the Safe Senders list in Outlook. Outlook 2011 now knows that email from this sender is not junk and no longer moves the email to the Junk E-Mail folder. Next, you begin using Outlook 2016 for Mac, which has no local junk filtering. The same newsletter is no longer moved to the Junk E-Mail folder because it’s no longer scanned by the Outlook junk filter to determine if it’s junk, therefore you no longer need to have the senders address in Safe Senders.

On the other hand, if your mail server provides server-side junk filtering, the same newsletter may also be determined to be junk on the server before it is ever downloaded to the Outlook client. In this scenario, adding the senders address to the Safe Senders list in Outlook for Mac would not help. You would instead need to add the senders address to the Safe Senders list on the server.

When connected to an Exchange 2013 mailbox, Outlook 2016 for Mac does not allow you to add Safe Senders.

Blocked Senders for Exchange 2013 accounts

You cannot manage Blocked Senders under the Outlook menu, Preferences, Junk, when connected to an Exchange account. If Outlook 2016 is connected to only Exchange 2013 accounts, you will see a message stating “This feature is not available for the accounts currently configured.” This appears because the client-side Safe & Blocked Senders feature is available only for POP, IMAP, or Exchange 2010 accounts.

  

If you are connected to an Exchange 2013 mailbox with Outlook 2016 for Mac, you can add server-side Blocked Senders. Blocked Senders added using this method will be synchronized to the Exchange server and stored there.  You cannot view the Blocked Senders list in Outlook 2016 for Mac, you must use OWA to view and manager you Blocked Senders, which is discussed in the Using OWA to manage junk email filtering, and Safe and Blocked Senders in Exchange section.

To add a server-side Blocked Sender when connected to an Exchange 2013 mailbox, select the email sent from the sender you wish to block, click Junk on the ribbon, and then click Block Sender. Alternatively, you can right-click the email, hover over Junk Mail, and then click Block Sender.

The next time this sender sends you an email, it will be directed into the Junk E-Mail folder.

Blocked Senders for POP, IMAP or Exchange 2010 accounts

Outlook 2016 for Mac allows you to add Blocked Senders for POP, IMAP and Exchange 2010 mailbox accounts.  These are client-side blocked senders only, and they are not synchronized to the server.  When you add a Blocked Sender in Outlook 2016 for Mac, email from that sender will be moved to the Junk E-Mail folder when the email is downloaded to Outlook.

Under the Outlook menu, Preferences, Junk, you find Safe Senders and Blocked Senders.  If you have one or multiple POP, IMAP, and/or Exchange 2010 accounts configured, when you open the Junk Preferences, you will see a message stating which account(s) the settings apply to, because these settings only apply to these account types.  If you also have an Exchange 2013 account configured along with the other accounts, the Exchange 2013 account would not be shown here and email arriving for that Exchange account would not be filtered based on this Blocked Sender list.

Note:  If you connect to an Exchange 2013 server mailbox using the POP or IMAP protocol, the behavior will be the same as any POP or IMAP account, such as Outlook.com. You will be able to add client-side Safe and Blocked Senders. However, adding the account as a POP or IMAP account instead of as an Exchange account will cause you to lose Exchange features.

Marking an Email as Junk Manually

You can still mark an email as junk manually by clicking the Junk menu, and then Mark as Junk. This moves the email to the Junk E-Mail folder, however future emails that are similar or from the same sender are not automatically moved to the Junk E-Mail folder as well.

Note: In Outlook for Mac 2011, emails that were marked as junk would be assigned the Junk category. This category does not exist by default in Outlook 2016 for Mac and emails marked as junk are not assigned this category.

Using OWA to Manage Junk Email Filtering, and Safe and Blocked Senders in Exchange

When connecting Outlook 2016 for Mac to an Exchange account, it's recommended that you use OWA to enable or disable Exchange server-side junk email filtering and to manage your server-side Safe and Blocked Senders lists. To do so, login to OWA, click the Gear icon at the top right, then choose Options. Under Mail, Accounts, click Block or allow, and then configure the options as you prefer.

Overall Comparison of Outlook for Mac 2011 and Outlook 2016 for Mac Junk Email Protection options

 

Option/Feature Outlook for Mac 2011 (14.3.2+) Outlook 2016 for Mac
Performs Junk Email filtering for Exchange accounts No No
Performs Junk Email filtering for POP and IMAP accounts Yes No
Add Blocked Senders when connected to Exchange 2013 (Syncs to server) Yes Yes
Add Blocked Senders when connected to Exchange 2010 (client-side only) Yes Yes
Add Blocked and Safe Senders for POP and IMAP accounts (client-side only) Yes Yes
Mark email as Junk manually (any type of account) Yes Yes
Contains the Junk category by default and emails marked as junk are assigned it automatically Yes No
Comments (11)

  1. Wow, that's what we call a comprehensive description. Thanks for the clear instructions. Screenshots help a lot!

  2. Bob Flack says:

    Good overview --but leaves me wondering if there are ANY client-based spam filters compatible with Outlook 2016. From my experience SpamSieve was top of the heap for Outlook 2011 -now ineffective since the client doesn't work with Apple Scripts. My server-side
    provider doesn't have effective filtering (I now get between 50-100 spams a day).

  3. Wilson Phillips says:

    Can you please clarify when this change took effect, and if Outlook for Mac (post-2011) has ever had client side junk mail filtering? I have been using this product for about a year and am nearly 100% certain that it is marking messages as junk when connected
    to a Google Apps/Gmail account. I can watch it happen when I start the software and see the messages move on via IMAP.

    Did this product recently change how it handles marking messages as junk?

  4. Bob Flack says:

    From this article and others I've read, there hasn't been an automatic client-based junk filter in Outlook 2016 that marks and removes junk-mail from the beginning -which is consistent with my experience. Is it possible that Gmail assigns that category
    from the server? Even then, the junk mail must be removed manually.

  5. J Sinn says:

    We are able to manage Exchange safe senders in Outlook 2011 by adding the address as a contact to the users Exchange contact folder. Does this still work with Outlook 2016?

  6. DM says:

    Why does Microsoft insist on hobbling Outlook for Mac? Our users need to regularly add new safe senders and they have zero interest (and sometimes zero knowledge) about OWA. It is extremely inconvenient to not be able to add server-side safe senders. Please
    add this feature in a future update.

  7. Mark says:

    What a joke. With all the features available, why doesn't one of the most obvious features exist? I use Office365 with Outlook 2016 Mac and when I click "This is not junk" it does nothing. Why doesn't it update the server side safe senders list? We don't
    need a comprehensive 10 page guide on the problems, spend the time on getting the Office365 and Outlook for Mac people together to get this sorted!

  8. blake says:

    Currently, in the sidebar, the junk folder always shows the notification of how many messages are in the folder... not just unread messages. The only way to get rid of the message count currently is to delete all of the messages (emtpy the folder). Is
    there currently anyway to disable this message count?

  9. mike says:

    Well that explains my reason for searching today that Outlook for mac doesn't seem to be filtering. Indeed it is not. Garbage. Is there any way to add it with an extension or something? Junk mail doesn't come from the same email adress after all.

  10. jefferis says:

    She doesn't respond. What a pity. I am getting most of me junk email FROM my Outlook account. I don't know if that is an exchange server or not... It is Microsofts web Outlook coming into my email software on my computer. Bah!

  11. Steve says:

    Having recently switched from PC to Mac in anticipation of a new MS Office suite that would be leading edge I am appalled by how feature poor Office for Mac is -- I'm really blown away. It makes me want to go back to PC where MS Office is 200% more robust
    and useful. What a drag that they won't give Mac users the same features and functionality as PC users.

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