What Happened to Apple Mail's 'Bounce Message' Feature?

These days, Apple recommends junk mail filtering

Older versions of Mail, Apple's OS X email app, had a feature called Bounce to Sender, which allowed users to send an unwanted message back to its originator. The idea was that if you "rejected" the message, the sender would stop sending email messages to your address.

Apple removed this feature in Apple Mail version 5 and later iterations. Here's a look at why the feature was removed and how Apple now recommends users handle spam and other unwanted emails.

While you can't bounce a message back to a sender in Apple Mail, you can block a sender and no longer receive emails from that specific person or group.

Why the 'Bounce to Sender' Feature Was Removed

The original thinking behind the Bounce to Sender feature was that if spammers thought the email was rejected, they'd remove that email address from their list as if it were invalid.

But as time and technology progressed, Apple realized that this feature might be doing more harm than good. These bounced messages might actually confirm to the spammer that the email address was valid and their message was, in fact, received.

Furthermore, if the spammer was using spoofed email addresses, the bounce message would head back only to a forged address.

For these reasons, Apple, as well as most other email providers, did away with bounced-message features.

In Apple Mail versions 4 and earlier, bouncing a message was a simple process. You'd highlight the message in the mailbox view, and select Message > Bounce to Sender.

Apple's Recommendations for Dealing With Spam

Instead of bouncing messages back to a sender, Apple Mail has several tools for dealing with unwanted emails.

Use the Built-In Junk Mail Feature

Apple Mail's built-in junk mail filter has a keen eye for spam, highlighting suspected messages that you can confirm as junk or mark as safe. This process teaches Apple Mail how to better filter your email.

If Apple Mail misses a junk mail message, it's easy to mark the message as junk by right-clicking on the email and selecting Mark as Junk, or by selecting the Junk button on the toolbar (represented by a thumb).

If you don't see the Junk icon (a thumbs up or down) on your toolbar, choose Mail > Preferences > Junk Mail and select Enable junk mail filtering.

Set up Apple Mail Rules

Rules in Apple Mail help you organize and automate your email system, allowing you to direct email to certain folders.

Set up rules to help determine what is junk mail or unwanted mail, and have them sent to the Trash folder or another folder you designate.

Fine-tine the effectiveness of the rule by adding multiple conditions, such as who the message is from, what it contains, subject matter, and more.