Bounce a Message to the Sender With Mac OS X Mail

Follow Apple's junk mail recommendations

An envelope stuck in a mail slot with Return to Sender written on it

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Apple removed the bounce feature in Mac OS X Mail 5 and later versions. The thinking was that bouncing an email did nothing but confirm the email had been received, or else it was bouncing to a spoofed email address, or it did nothing at all. Since then, most mail providers and programs have removed the bounce feature for these same reasons. 

Although Windows has a few helper applications that make bouncing a possibility still, Apple Mail doesn't have many options.

Bounce a Message to the Sender in Mac OS X Mail 4 and Earlier

To bounce a message back to its sender with Mac OS X Mail versions 4 and earlier:

  • Highlight the message in the mailbox view.
  • Select Message | Bounce from the menu. In some versions of Mail, the command is called Bounce To Sender.
  • Click OK.

Alternate Way to Bounce Email in Some Mac OS X Mail Versions

For a while, a third-party application provided a bounce feature to some Mail versions. The Restore Bounce Mail Button to Lions Mail application returns the Bounce Mail button to OS X Lion's and Mountain Lion's Mail, just like it appears with OS X Snow Leopard.

Apple Recommendations for Dealing With Spam

Apple analyzes incoming email messages to identify junk mail. It highlights the messages and sends them on to you. Your job is to confirm as junk or not junk to teach Apple's Mail server how to better filter your email. 

  • If Mail marks a message as junk incorrectly, click Not Junk at the top of the message or the Not Junk button in the Mail toolbar or Touch Bar.
  • If Mail fails to mark a message as junk, and it is junk, click on the Junk button in the Mail toolbar or use the Touch Bar.

If you don't see the Junk buttons, go to the Mail application and choose Mail > Preferences > Junk Mail and select Enable junk mail filtering.