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Issue #758: Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2022

Q: After a recent update on my iPhone 12 I started getting numerous junk e-mails messages in my Gmail account on my iPhone. They do go to my Junk folder, but then I have to delete the messages there and then go to Trash folder to delete them again. I’ve tried blocking them but there are way too many to block each individually. The junk e-mail does not come into my Gmail account when I access it on my HP computer using Microsoft Outlook 2016.

 Is there a way to get these messages to delete without going through the two-step delete process?

 – Paul H.
Niceville, Florida

A:  I think it’s possible that you may be attributing a few functions and behaviors to parts and pieces that don’t really have anything to do with one another, Paul.  First of all, I can practically guarantee that updating the iOS on your phone had nothing to do with the amount of SPAM that you receive.  Perhaps you noticed it after the upgrade, but the SPAM was likely arriving prior to that point.  The iPhone has a robust e-mail feature built-in, but it does not have anything to do with the content that is e-mailed to you and doesn’t even have any control over whether a given message is marked as SPAM and sent to the Junk folder – that’s purely a function of Gmail itself. 

Let’s talk a little about Gmail for a moment.  Gmail is more than the typical e-mail service that you might get as part of a package that you purchase from a service provider.  The user experience that you receive varies depending on how you view your mail.  The options include using your favorite browser to view Gmail’s webmail service.  There is also a dedicated Gmail app that handles messages slightly differently than other e-mail clients that you might use.  For example, your use of the term “Junk folder” tells me that you’re likely using your iPhone’s built-in e-mail function.  If you were using webmail, or the Gmail app, the folder is called “Spam”.

Now, I mentioned that the Gmail app handles messages slightly differently than other mail clients.  One major difference is that in the Gmail app, when you delete a message from the Spam folder it’s actually deleted.  That is, it’s gone, never to be seen again.  If you do the same thing in other e-mail clients, you’re probably going to experience what you described, which is to say, messages aren’t actually deleted, they’re merely moved to the Trash folder.  Once relegated to the Trash, they will hang around forever unless you either delete them a second time, or you empty the Trash folder.

Without seeing your Outlook configuration, I can only hazard a guess, but my guess is that one of two things is happening.  Either Outlook has been told not to download the contents of the SPAM folder from the Gmail server, or there is some secondary process (usually called a “rule” in Outlook) that is handling SPAM messages so that you don’t see them, such as directly deleting them as they arrive.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t getting SPAM – it just means it’s being automatically “handled” for you.  That’s risky, since you’ll automatically lose any messages that accidentally get marked as SPAM.

Your attempts to block the addresses from which SPAM originates are noble, but you’re fighting a battle you can never win.  The only messages you’ll successfully block are those from legitimate mailing lists, and you could just as easily unsubscribe from those. The insidious and unwelcome ads that probably comprise the bulk of your SPAM come from people who create a free e-mail address to use only once.  They blast out a few thousand SPAM e-mails, then they abandon the address and create another.  So, you’re blocking addresses from which you’ll never get another e-mail.

I already answered your main question about how to delete messages in one step: Use the Gmail app instead of a mail client.  But it’s worth mentioning that there’s really no reason for you to continually delete SPAM messages at all.  Gmail itself automatically deletes anything in the SPAM folder that’s over 30 days old.  So, no matter which method you use to read your mail, if you just leave it alone, it will maintain itself.


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