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What is a Junk Mail Folder?

By T. Briseno
Updated May 16, 2024
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A junk mail folder is a virtual area for storing unwanted and often unsolicited electronic mail within an e-mail application or system. Programs within e-mail generally include customization options to move unwelcome messages to a junk mail folder automatically, but often this mail needs to be manually moved to the folder after reaching an in-box. When e-mail from an undesirable source comes through, typically there is a block list or spam filter for logging the sender’s e-mail address or extension, subject field, or content keywords and having like messages sent directly to the junk mail folder. Items in this folder can be deleted manually or can be set to a calendar for auto-deletion after a specified period of time, though it is generally advisable to review junk mail for messages that may have been filtered by the e-mail program in error.

Most e-mail programs include a junk mail folder within the standard mail folder directory. Some companies devote staff to creating marketing e-mails that can evade filters and get through to an in-box without being relegated to the junk folder. Circumventing the spam and junk filters can be a marketing specialty as well as a computer programming line of defense during development and debugging.

Many virtual pieces of mail make their way directly to the junk mail folder due to the nature of the content in the body of the e-mail itself. Settings within a program can filter all content containing profanities, sexually explicit language, and marketing euphemisms designed to escape the filter process. Subject lines containing the same types of material can be demoted from the in-box to a junk mail folder as well. Other filters can be set to bounce out e-mails received from locations or servers identified as spam creators or generators.

Although e-mail programs are typically sophisticated enough to manage the majority of unwanted mail sent to an in-box, occasionally they send wanted mail to a junk mail folder in the process. When deleting junk mail folder contents, it is commonly recommended that the user review addresses and subject lines to ensure that a non-spam piece of mail is not deleted. Generally, e-mail applications also have a pop-up prompt before deletion is complete to ask users again if they are certain about deleting the selected e-mails or the folder contents. If valid messages are found, they can be moved to the in-box and a second step can be taken to remove them from the settings identifying them as junk.

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Discussion Comments

By SarahSon — On Jun 18, 2011

I am always amazed at the number of junk emails that are in my spam folder. Most email providers do a pretty good job of sorting out the good from the bad, but not always.

The best way to make sure you get the emails you want is to add them to your contact list so your provider will know you want them, and they will go directly to your inbox.

Having a junk mail filter is a big time saver. Even if you don't read them and just go through and delete them, this takes up time and gets to be annoying.

By Mykol — On Jun 15, 2011

The email service providers I use automatically have a junkmail folder set up. Sometimes this is also called a spam folder. The spam messages typically stay in there for 30 days and then are removed automatically. I hardly ever look at my spam folder, but when I do it seems like I always find at least one email that I wanted in my inbox.

If you are expecting to receive an email from someone, and it does not show up, the first thing I do is check my junk mail folder. Sometimes they show up there even when they are on your contact list and need to be in your regular inbox.

It is true, most of the emails are pure junk and you don't want to be bothered wasting your time with them, but sometimes there is one that you need to read, so it is a good idea to at least look at this folder once a week or so.

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