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Take control of your email inbox

By: 4 January 2012 No Comment

Tragedy struck here at FirstArkansasNews.

Well, we weren’t exactly hit with a tragedy, but something extremely annoying happened. That’s right — our email server was hit with enough spam to choke a horse. Just imagine wading through about 250 emails a day to get to the 20 or 30 that are worthwhile. As one might imagine, that sad state of affairs renders an email account just about useless.

We got in touch with David Hudson, the owner of Little Rock’s Hudson Creative Services (HudsonCS), and asked for help. HudsonCS, of course, is this site’s Web hosting company so it only makes sense to give him a call when it comes to technical issues that impact the usability of the First Arkansas News account.

Hudson suggested using Gmail as a spam filter and the solution works like a charm and is easy to implement. He explained that running email through Gmail is free and effective as the folks at Google have people on staff who do nothing but figure out what pieces of mail out there are spam and how to block them.

After setting up a Gmail account, the number of spam emails hitting the First Arkansas News inbox has dropped substantially. How easy is it to set up your email account so Gmail filters out the junk and sends only the messages you want? The whole process takes less than 30 minutes and takes only a few steps.

First of all, you’ll need a Gmail account. If you don’t already have one, click here and set it up in a few, short minutes.

After doing that, you’ll want to access the “settings” menu on the upper right-hand portion of your screen and select (as you might have guessed) the “settings” option. The settings menu is triggered by clicking the icon that looks like a gear.

Once in settings, you’ll be greeted by a series of tabs. Select the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab. Once there, enable both POP and IMAP so that you’ll be able to easily access your Gmail account from standalone email clients and mobile devices. After that’s done, it’s time to configure your Gmail account to pull in messages from your spam-ridden email account.

That is done by going to the “Accounts and Import” tab and selecting the “Add a POP3 email account you own” option in the “Check mail using POP3″ section. Once there, you should only need to fill in your email address, the incoming mail server and your password. If in doubt, you should be able to get that information from the account settings in your email client or from your Internet service provider (that information is typically easily available online through your ISP’s Internet site). While on that page, make sure to fill in the “Send mail as” section for each account you add — it is easy to set it up so that Gmail will send all mail from your account or accounts, but you can have it send through your server by filling in your SMTP information.

After that’s all done, head back to the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, hit the “Configuration instructions” to set up either IMAP or POP access for your email clients and mobile devices. Personally, I prefer the IMAP option — setting it up is very easy and it syncs very well regardless of how many devices you use. Say, for example, you check email on your phone and your laptop. If you move a message on your phone, that will sync with your laptop and Gmail without a problem. IMAP allows for such two way communication, whereas POP doesn’t.

After those steps, you’re done. You’ll be able to check emails and send them as you always have, but you’ll have a great spam filter keeping out the junk. If you have several POP accounts running through Gmail, those will stay organized as they will appear in various IMAP folders

Of course, if you’ve got an email client such as Mozilla Thunderbird, you can train it to identify spam and either delete it or route it to a folder once an offending email hits your account. That works quite well if you’re checking email from one computer, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for you if you’re also checking mail from a Web application, a mobile device, etc. Using Gmail as a spam filter, however, filter spam regardless of what device you’re using.

Also, there are some commercial spam filters available that can be activated at the server level. The First Arkansas News account is protected by SpamAssassin, but it is a bit difficult to configure and hasn’t been as effective as Gmail’s free spam filtering. Give it a try and enjoy not being annoyed by spam.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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