Wash that SPAM!

A few months ago, one of the readers of this column sent me an e-mail regarding a program named “MailWasher.” This program is a “must have” for anyone fed up on SPAM.

MailWasher is a program that checks your e-mail before you download the mail to your computer. The program does this by connecting to your mail provider’s computer and reading the information about what e-mail is waiting for you to read. It retrieves the sender’s name, the subject line, a text version of the mail, and whether it contains an attachment.

After MailWasher retreives this data, it is shown to you in a simple table where all the fields are shown. Along the left side of the table are some check boxes that allow you to perform various actions with the mail.

If the e-mail is from someone you know, you can mark him as a friend; if it is from someone you don’t recognize, you can have the program show you a text only version of the message.

This is where the power of the program comes in. At this point, you can mark this message as coming from a friend, or you can add it to the blacklist. When a sender’s e-mail address is added to the blacklist you also have some other options.

If the sender is someone who may occasionally send you a message worth reading, you can simply blacklist him, and his future messages will show as blacklisted. If you determine in the preview that you want to download his message, you can simply remove the check mark from the blacklist box.

You may also decide that all you want to do is delete the message after the preview. Any future messages will show as normal unless you change the sender’s status.

Another option allows you to bounce the message. When the message is bounced, it is returned to the sender, where it appears as though it is not a valid e-mail address.

Since these lists of e-mail addresses are sold and traded between the spammers, they do not want to pay for addresses that are not valid, and your address is removed from their list.

Within a month or so after you start to use the program, you will see the amount of junk e-mails begin to decrease. Of course, you will still receive spam if you give out your address, but the spam from the blacklisted senders will begin to go away.

The program is available for a free download from www.mailwasher.net. The free version will only function with one e-mail account that has to be POP3 based. This means that if you use Microsoft Outlook Express or Eudora, it should function.

If you are using Hotmail or AOL or if you have more than one e-mail address you will need to purchase the Pro version of the program for $30. The reason for this is that AOL and Hotmail use their own email software that is not compatible with other e-mail programs.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail technorh@mindspring.com, or call 243-1162.

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