McAfee SpamKiller 5.1 - Spam Filter

McAfee SpamKiller - Spam Filter
McAfee SpamKiller - Spam Filter. Heinz Tschabitscher

The Bottom Line

McAfee SpamKiller is an easy to use spam filter with a rich set of sophisticated filters that spot most spam. Unfortunately, its rate of false positives is too high out of the box, and McAfee SpamKiller relies mostly on white lists to prevent this.

McAfee SpamKiller is no longer available; you can always try other spam filtering software, of course.


  • McAfee SpamKiller is easy to use and works unobtrusively
  • Uses a rich set of flexible filters that are frequently and automatically updated
  • McAfee SpamKiller lets you send spam complaints easily


  • McAfee SpamKiller produces many false positives, at least out of the box
  • Works with POP accounts only, and can't be used as a filtering proxy
  • McAfee SpamKiller can be a bit slow to use with larger amounts of mail


  • McAfee SpamKiller checks multiple POP, Hotmail or MAPI email accounts for new mail and spam.
  • Using flexible and powerful filters, SpamKiller spots junk mail, scams and other unwanted email.
  • McAfee SpamKiller is automatically updated with the latest filtering rules.
  • Messages blocked by SpamKiller can be reviewed and rescued easily.
  • You can also add senders to the white list or build filters from messages.
  • McAfee SpamKiller can watch your email client's address book and whitelist new contacts.
  • Additional spam is found by filtering image-only messages and the option to block certain charsets.
  • McAfee SpamKiller lets you fight back via complaints and error messages.
  • McAfee SpamKiller supports Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/3/XP.

Expert Review - McAfee SpamKiller 5.1 - Spam Filter

Ideally, you don't notice your spam filter. The spam simply disappears.

McAfee SpamKiller doesn't achieve that, but it tries to. SpamKiller uses a flexible filtering engine and comes with a large number of powerful filters that quarantine detected spam immediately. But spam continually evolves, and so does SpamKiller. SpamKiller downloads new filters and updates automatically.

Of course, you can review SpamKiller's decisions and rescue mail or manually delete unwanted mail off the server. Unfortunately, the former is necessary a bit too often. SpamKiller's filters spot a lot of spam, but they are overzealous.

While it is easy to add senders to the white list (SpamKiller even monitors your email client's address book to add new contacts automatically), this should not be the only method to avoid false positives. McAfee says SpamKiller uses Bayesian filtering, but unfortunately you can't train the filter with messages you rescue.

It's easy to set up sophisticated filters (either to delete or accept certain messages), though, and the filter sensitivity can be reduced from the default "high". This and disabling the hidden-text filter help.

You can also submit spam—why not false positives?—to McAfee for filter improvements. And complaining about spammers more or less correctly is a snap in SpamKiller.

All in all, McAfee SpamKiller makes a nice, but not necessarily precise anti-spam tool.

(Updated March 2003)