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Howto: Organising Thunderbird to save mail, filter spam and trash junk mail

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Stomfi

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Posted: 15 Dec 2005

In Australia, when you purchase an Internet connection plan, you get at least one email account. With this you can either view your email on line, like you do when using Yahoo, Google and Hotmail, or you can download it to your local machine, using an email client like Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is produced by the Mozilla organization, and used to be part of the Netscape/Mozilla suite, before the parts were separated into fast stand alone applications.

Because Linux is relatively impervious to the malwear that attacks Windows users, downloading your email and storing it on your hard drive has several advantages over leaving it on a remote server. One is that you can back it up onto a CD or DVD removable media. Two is that you can treat it like you do normal text or word processor files held in your local storage, cutting and pasting parts to augment your documents, and searching for terms, like I do when I want to see if I've already answered a question.

If you leave your Linux computer on all the time and Thunderbird set so it downloads new mail as it arrives, you can log into it from a remote location using ssh or vnc, and action your mail, just like you would on a web mail interface.

Once you have set up your email account, you can collect mail automatically by filling in the necessary fields in Thunderbird similar to this:

I have also set Thunderbird to start automatically when my system restarts, so the conditions you see here will always be available.

This is how the client can be set up with folders for the main email subject areas or mailing lists and a filtered folder on the inbox.

Just like the folder tree in your home folder, you can organize things to suit the way you file your information.

All the email comes into the inbox in this set up, where it is subjected to junk mail controls and filters.

Highlighting the account name brings up a menu, with the item "Manage message filters" at the end. Clicking on this item allows you to manage filters.

This is the window for setting up a new filter. This filter matches all mail containing the word "stomfisite in its To or cc field and puts it into the inbox sub folder "filtered".

This one filters any mail containing the word "dyne:bolic" in the subject and puts it into the folder dynebolic. This is handy for mailing lists.

Here is the filter management window:

In this window you can add new filters, edit and delete existing ones, and change the order that they are applied. This would be important in this example if the two mailing list folders were subfolders of the filtered folder.

You can experiment with the other filter controls, but I find these simple ones are all I need.

Setting up the junk filter is just as easy, although you have to check its work as it is an Artificial Intelligence, and needs a bit of baby sitting for a few months. Mine has been going for about a year, and now never makes a mistake.

You can access this screen from Tools – Junk Mail Controls. The way I've set this up, it deletes anything over 1 day old and puts it into the trash folder. I have found it is a good idea to "mark the folder as read" by selecting this option from its right click menu. This seems to prevent a build up of old messages.

This is the adaptive filter. Check your junk folder daily and remove the junk mail marker by clicking its column, and move the mail to another folder with its right click menu. Also check the trash box in the same way, and empty the trash each day.

I got into the habit of doing this while training the AI, and do it more often than not, even today. So does that mean I'm augmented or demented???

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