The iPhone, Gmail, and spam

A reader who would prefer to remain nameless finds his iPhone packed with spam. He writes:

I read your My First Requests article at iPhone Central and am having the same problem with my iPhone that you’re having—too much spam. You mentioned Gmail in your article. How can that help me?

At the risk of recapping that article, the gist is that the iPhone’s mail client has no spam filtering. If you’re accustomed to seeing a spam-free Inbox because you use an anti-spam utility on your Mac, you may be in for a rude surprise when you retrieve your first batch of email with your iPhone.

I mentioned Gmail for two reasons: It offers really good spam filtering and you can configure it to retrieve mail from your POP accounts and deliver it via Gmail (and apply Gmail’s spam filtering in the process). You set it up this way:

If you don’t have a Gmail account, you can have one for free. Better yet, you no longer need an invitation, anyone can have one simply by signing up. Just point your browser to Gmail and click the Sign Up For Gmail link. Follow the instructions and you’ll have a Gmail account in no time.

When you get to your Gmail page, click the Settings link next to your Gmail address in the upper-right corner of the page. Click the Accounts tab and in the area marked Get Mail From Other Accounts click the Add Mail Account link. In the Add a Mail Account window that appears you’ll be asked for the email address and mail settings (username, password, POP server) of the account you want Gmail to handle.

Now click the Forwarding and POP tab and enable POP Download. This allows your Mac’s email client to download your email (I assume you want to continue receiving mail on your Mac). You’ll need to configure your Mac’s email client to receive Gmail via POP. Click the Configuration Instructions link on the page to learn how.

On the iPhone tap the Settings icon on the Home screen, tap Mail in the Settings screen, and tap Add Account in the Mail screen. In the Add Account screen tap Gmail. You’ll be asked from your name, Gmail address, password, and a description ( My Gmail Account is the default). Once you create that account, it will be added to the iPhone’s Mail application. You can now delete the original account from the iPhone as Gmail is now handling its mail. When you next launch Mail you’ll find your mail within the Gmail account you created — spam free.

By the way, in case it’s slipped anyone’s notice, this is perfectly fine technique for filtering email even if you don’t have an iPhone.

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