IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Junk Email (Spam) Filtering

Service notice: Deskmail (aka UW Email, Alpine, Pine) — the UW’s legacy email system — will be retired by the end of 2018. View timeline and details.

Change your junk email settings

The Email Delivery Manager (EDM) is available as part of the UW Deskmail Email Account (also known as Web Alpine). EDM includes spam filtering, out-of-office messages and custom filters.

NOTE: The Email Delivery Manager is not available for:

  • UW Exchange email
  • UW Google email

For UW Deskmail accounts, the Junk Email (Spam) Filter is on by default. You can turn Junk Email Filtering on or off, or adjust settings, at any time. With the Junk Email Filter on, email with a score higher than your chosen threshold will be placed in a folder named “junk-mail.”

Important: Check your junk-mail folder regularly (at least once a week). Some good messages may get mixed in with the junk, especially if you choose a low threshold or if you receive commercially-oriented email. You must move such messages to other folders within a week after their arrival or they will be automatically deleted along with the junk messages. If you are not sure where your junk-mail folder is, see Frequently Asked Questions.

Note that Web Alpine refers to your junk-mail folder by the name “Junk“.

How to filter out junk email

To change your filter settings:

  1. StepsActions
  2. Go to the Email Delivery Manager (EDM).
  3. Under Junk Email (Spam) Filter (at the top of the left column), click Configure.
  4. By default, your Junk Email (Spam) Filter is On. UW Information Technology does not recommend turning the filter off.
  5. Select your Risk Tolerance. The recommended setting is “Moderate Risk.” “Low Risk” means only messages that are almost certain to be spam are filtered. The middle- or high-risk choices mean more messages will be filtered, possibly catching some non-spam messages.
  6. Choose the Filter Order. We recommend setting spam filtering after any other filtering. The Filter Order setting determines whether spam is filtered out before or after any other filtering you have.
  7. When you have made the settings you want, click Update spam filter configuration on the bottom of the page.

Will EDM work for my email?

Messages going to UW Google Apps, UW Exchange, or departmental email services are not affected by the Junk Mail Filter. The Junk Mail Filter function only works on messages delivered to UW Deskmail.

Follow the steps below to determine if messages for a particular UW NetID are forwarded to UW Deskmail.

To check email forwarding for a UW NetID:

  1. StepsActions
  2. Enter the UW NetID to test and click submit.
  3. Read the results, then use your browser Back button to return to this page.
    UW NetID:

Frequently asked questions

I can’t find my junk-mail folder!
A desktop email program like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Mac Mail might not show the junk-mail folder for a number of reasons:

  • The list of available folders may need to be “refreshed.” That is, the email program has an out-of-date list of what folders are available. Usually, email programs have a “reset” or “refresh” command.
  • Many email programs have the ability to hide or show folders so that the list of folders you see is not the complete list of folders available on the email server.
  • Your email program may be improperly configured so that it is looking in the wrong location for the folders. Detailed instructions for obtaining and configuring email programs for use with the UW central email system can be found on the Configuring Your Email Program for Deskmail page.
What difference does the sequence of filtering make?
The sequence of filtering (spam filtering before or after other filtering) can make a difference when messages from a particular source are frequently being filtered into your junk-mail folder. By having spam filtering done after your other Email Delivery Manager filters and then creating a filter to direct email from that source into its own folder, you can save it before it reaches the spam filter.
Is the UW blocking some spam?
Yes. Email from certain sources that exclusively send large amounts of spam are blocked and discarded before they enter the UW Deskmail system.
Is scanning for viruses also being done?
Yes, email messages are also scanned for viruses both as they come in to the UW and as they go out to the world. You can find out more on the Email at UW Is Scanned For Viruses Web page. Email messages containing viruses are discarded.
Does the spam scanning mean my email will be delayed?
Scanning will typically delay messages by only a second or two.
What can I do if my own messages get high spam scores?
Look at your email message to see if it has characteristics that, to PureMessage, are similar to spam and edit your message accordingly. You can also forward a copy of the message to for assistance.
Can my own email filtering tools use the spam score?
Maybe. The score is in the header of each message and many email clients and anti-spam filters can read information in the header. Check the documentation or contact the vendor support for your software.
Does this mean the UW is reading my email?
The scanning is done by a program checking for the presence of specific text strings and other characteristics of messages many people consider to be spam. UW Technology staff themselves do not inspect, monitor, change, or delete email.
What should I do if I find spam that is assigned too low a score?
Identifying spam is an inexact science. The PureMessage criteria are constantly evolving on the basis of their experience with a very large number of emails, so it represents a generalized understanding of what spam is and how to identify it. UW Information Technology can’t directly make adjustments to the scoring system, but does work with the vendor to identify needed changes. If you come upon a case that seems to be far out of line with expectations, you could forward an example (including the full email header) to If you use Web Alpine, use the Report Spam tool.

Adjusting the Risk Tolerance settings of your own filter is the best way to deal with low scoring spam, unless that adjustment means more good messages go to your junk-mail folder. There is no perfect setting.

UW Information Technology will continue to evaluate tools and methods for fighting spam. Send your suggestions to

Additional information