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Computer Tips: Mozilla 1.4 Spam Controls

Two annoying "features" of the Internet are pop-up windows that clutter your screen with ads, and spam. Mozilla 1.4 has tools to combat both, and to top it off, its free.

The pop-up controls were in an earlier version of Mozilla, and I talked about them here. While parts of the spam, or junk mail, controls were in Mozilla 1.3, they increased in functionality in Mozilla 1.4.

Mozilla uses Bayesian filtering for determining what's junk. Not up on Bayesian techniques? It means that it watches you classify mail as either junk or not, and learns from your example.

Within Mozilla Mail, set up a local folder called "Junk". Then click Tools, Junk Mail Controls to open up this dialog box.

screenshot

Turn on the controls by checking the "Enable" option. Also check the second option, which makes it less likely that real email gets marked as junk. (Unless, or course, you really do know those widows of Nigerian generals.) The other options let you try a variety of strategies for disposal.

You then have to train Mozilla. When you get incoming mail, highlight spam and hit the Junk Mail button on the tool bar. Also, check the Junk mail folder for any "false positives", mail marked as junk that shouldn't have been. Highlight this mail, and click the "Not Junk" button. (I've been using the junk mail controls for over a week now, and the only two false positives were on email newsletters.) You can also manually empty your junk mail folder at any time.

If crushing pop-ups and disposing of spam weren't enough reasons, don't forget that Mozilla is free. You can download the latest version at http://www.mozilla.org/releases/#1.4, with versions available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, OS/2, and most flavors of Unix. Even newer versions of Mozilla are available for testing, but as of 7/2003, this is the latest stable version.