How can you tell if an email is spam?

You run your email program, Outlook Express, Outlook and Thunderbird etc and download your new emails. Without clicking on the unread emails, how can you tell if they are genuine or spam or worse still, infected?

You could try to work out from the title or sender details if they are genuine, but if you've got the Preview Frame enabled, you've just told the spammer that your email address is valid, or you've just infected your machine.


The best way is to run a previewer type program BEFORE you download your emails. The best program I've found for this is MailWasher. There is a free version for when you have just a single email address, but if like me, you've a number of them in an attempt to limit the amount of spam you receive, then the pro version is for you.

This allows you to add your email accounts to Mailwasher, and once setup all you need to do is instead of running your email program, run Mailwasher instead. This searches your email accounts for any messages in your inbox(es) and displays them in a format that shows any link as well as where it actually points to. For example a spoofed link could suggest that it goes to your bank, instead Mailwasher shows you that it in fact is a falsified link sending you to a fake site in Poland for example.

You can mark all such fake, spam, and infected emails as spam and rejected by deleting them from the server, thus preventing them from ever accessing your computer. Once you've cleaned up your inboxes, Mailwasher loads your preferred mail program and you can now deal with a reduced number of emails safe in the knowledge that your emails are genuine and what you really want to receive.