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Gmail Spam: Google Will Now Tell You Why It Marked A Message As Spam

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/21/2012 10:49 am Updated: 03/21/2012 4:00 pm

Gmail Spam

If you're a member of Nigerian royalty who buys Viagra and luxury wristwatches in bulk, you've probably been confused by how Gmail marks messages sent to you as 'Spam.'

Well, wonder no more, Your Bulk-Buying Highness: Google has announced that, from now on, Gmail will include a notification in each of your messages marked Spam that explains why that particular email has been flagged.

A "Why Is This Message In Spam?" information bar will appear above each Spam email you receive from now on. Here's one from my inbox:

(You know how I know this message is spam? The subject says that "Brooke is looking to make love," and then the body of the email is from someone named Kayla. Classic bait & switch!).

Now this may be fun, but Google, in the official blog post announcing the new feature, says this is about more than fun:

We hope that this is not only interesting, but also helps you learn about scams and other harmful messages that Gmail filters out. Whether you prefer to leave your spam folder untouched or do some educational digging, the information will be there for you.

The added feature is part of Google's larger push to educate its massive email user base about the dangers of Spam. The blog post also includes a link to a longer informational article about the ways in which spammers try to attack through email. That is in addition to Google's larger "Good to Know" campaign, a digital PSA of sorts that revolves around Internet privacy and safety in general.

Gmail's "Why Is This Spam?" notifications have already rolled out and should be in your Spam folder as of now. For answers to a bunch of commonly asked questions about Gmail -- including how to clear out all that spam at once -- check out our slideshow below:

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  • How do I unchain emails?

    <em>Currently an email continues on and on, as the recipient/others reply to it, but I can't always see that there is a new addition, as it doesn't come up as a new email -- it remains in the original location by date. Do you understand my question? I can't think how to make it clearer. -- Deborah</em> I hear you loud and clear, Deb. One of the biggest adjustments for people switching over to Gmail is the automatic chaining of emails in the inbox -- that is, replies to a certain email thread are nested under the original email, rather than presented as separate, independent emails. You'll probably get used to it after a while, but if you absolutely loathe the chained look, there's a solution: Recently, Gmail relented and pushed out an option that allows you to "unchain" those emails. Go into your Gmail Settings (click the gear icon in the top right and then "Mail Settings") and find the option called Conversation View. Switch Conversation View to the off position to unchain your emails for good. (Also, remember to scroll down and Save Changes, Deborah, otherwise your new view will not go into effect.)

  • How can you sort emails by sender or subject?

    Many of you wrote in to ask how you can sort by email sender or subject alphabetically -- that ain't gonna happen on Gmail, it just ain't. Gmail is an email service based on searching emails, not sorting them. The search bar at the top of your inbox is your primary means of locating those past emails, and Gmail doesn't allow you to alphabetize your columns from there. The best you can do to organize based on sender or subject is to learn your Gmail search operators. Search operators are, per Google, "words or symbols that perform special actions in Gmail search." They look like this: "from:[sender]," "to:[recipient]," "subject:[subject]," etc. So, if you want to find all of your emails from, say, Huffington Post Senior Tech Editor Bianca Bosker, you could type in the search bar "from:biancatheconqueror@gmail.com" to bring up all of her past emails. Or if you want to find all the emails you've ever sent to Bianca Bosker, you could type "to:biancatheconqueror@gmail.com" in the Gmail search bar. You can also combine search terms: <em>to:biancatheconqueror@gmail.com subject:"office hot tub" </em> <a href="http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=7190" target="_hplink">Click here for the official list of Gmail search operators</a>. <strong>NOTE</strong>: Someone should write a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODGA7ssL-6g" target="_hplink">catchy mnemonic song</a> to help us remember these. Another option: If you download an email client like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook and sync up your Gmail account, you will be able to alphabetize your inbox however you'd like. From Gmail.com, however, you are out of luck, as far as we know. Speaking of things that Gmail notably can't do...

  • How can you search for larger emails in Gmail?

    Nope, you can't sort by email size in Gmail, either. Again, Outlook and Thunderbird are quick, free external programs that can sort your Gmail by size, but if you don't want to download anything, here are the two best web-based options for searching for large emails in Gmail that I know of: 1. Use the search operator "has:attachment" to locate larger emails. For "has:attachment", Gmail will bring up emails with files attached to them, starting with the most recent. If you want to bring up only older emails with attachments, consider something like "has:attachment before:2010/06/01." This will bring up emails with attachments sent before June 1, 2010, and then you can choose which ones you no longer need. (That Kris Kross album your friend ironically sent you is really just taking up precious Gmail space at this point). 2. Use FindBigMail.com. When you are logged into Gmail, simply visit FindBigMail.com and enter in your email address. After granting the site permission, FindBigMail scans your entire Gmail archive and locates your large emails for you. (You do the deleting afterwards.) The service is free and does not require or store any of your private information. <a href="https://www.findbigmail.com/faq" target="_hplink">For an FAQ, read here</a>. Sorry I couldn't be of more help, <strong>Salim</strong>. Let me know if you find a better way.

  • How do I log into my Gmail on my iPad?

    Well, you can launch the iPad's Safari browser and navigate to Gmail.com, of course, but we prefer the Mail app -- as should you, <strong>Michael in San Diego</strong>. Here are your steps: 1. Click on the Settings app. 2. Touch Mail, Contacts, Calendars on the left sidebar. 3. Under Accounts, touch "Add Account..." 4. Touch Gmail. 5. Enter your name, email address, password, and what you want to call your account (Home Gmail, Work Gmail, Party Gmail, etc.). 6. Choose whether you want to sync your mail, calendars, or notes from that account. 7. Boom, you're done. Check out your new email accounts in the Mail app from the homescreen.

  • How do you select and then delete all of your spam?

    Sure, we all love being told the size of our genitals could be improved, but sometimes the spam we receive becomes too burdensome and we need to mass delete. So writes <strong>Diane in Maryland</strong>, and we agree. In your spam folder, click the center of the "Select" box (it's the box within a box right above the banner ad at the top of your mailbox) to select all. Then click "Delete Forever" to -- well, to delete that Spam forever. (WARNING: Those deals on real estate seminars aren't coming back.)

  • How free is the free Gmail phone call?

    I'd like to ask for clarification on a statement you made regarding "Call Phone." You said: "Again, it's not free for the recipient." But isn't it free for them if they are on a land-line? -- <strong>Gregg from San Diego</strong> My report of the death of landlines was greatly exaggerated, as Gregg pointed out. If you call a cell phone from Gmail, it is free for you but counts against the recipient's cell phone minutes; if you're calling an American or Canadian landline, it is indeed free for everyone (or, rather, there are no additional charges for anyone). <a href="http://support.google.com/chat/?hl=en&topic=30052" target="_hplink">Here's the full skinny on Gmail calling</a>. My apologies to landlines for the premature death pronouncement. You've never looked better.

  • How do you send mail to people without showing their email addresses?

    Peg writes in wanting know how she can send an email to multiple recipients without those recipients being able to see who the others are. Perhaps Peg is planning on throwing a party and doesn't want to tip off the guest list; perhaps she is a manager and wants to yell at certain employees for not turning in their end of year reviews in a timely manner. In any case what Peg and all passive-aggressive bosses are looking for is the BCC field. BCC stands for "blind carbon copy." Any email addresses you type in the BCC field will not be visible to any of the recipients. For <a href="http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=57143" target="_hplink">a full explanation of how BCC works</a>, we turn once again to Gmail's help desk.


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