How to Stop Apple Mail From Spam Filtering Known Senders

Make sure important emails don't end up in the junk folder

Apple Mail has been the standard for Mac email since the early days of OS X. Apple Mail's built-in junk mail filter is powerful, precise, and very helpful for weeding out spam. It is not, however, immune from misjudgment.

Apple laptop on white table
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If you find that important, valid emails from known senders are being assigned to your junk mail folder, it's easy to stop Apple Mail from identifying messages from certain senders as spam. This process is typically called whitelisting (the modern term is safelisting), and it ensures that good messages head straight to your Inbox.

These instructions should apply to all versions of Apple Mail.

Stop Email From Being Incorrectly Marked as Spam

To prevent Apple Mail from incorrectly marking legitimate messages as junk:

  1. Select Mail > Preferences from the menu in Apple Mail.

  2. Select the Junk Mail tab.

  3. Make sure Enable Junk Mail Filtering is checked.

  4. In the section labeled The following types of messages are exempt from junk mail filtering, place a check mark in the box in front of Sender of message is in my Contacts.

  5. Optionally, check Sender of message is in my Previous Recipients, as well.

  6. Optionally, check Message is addressed using my full name.

    Apple Mail junk mail preferences
    Lifewire
  7. Close the Preferences window.

  8. Now, Apple Mail won't mark messages as junk if they come from anyone in your Contacts list or anyone with whom you've corresponded previously, or if the message is addressed using your full name, depending on which options you chose.

    Alternatively, select the Not Junk button in the banner of the message, or select the message, then select the Not Junk button in the Mail toolbar.

How to Add a Sender to Your Contacts

It's easy to add senders to your Contacts so their messages won't be marked as junk mail.

  1. Open Apple Mail and then open an email from the sender.

  2. Highlight the sender's name or email address at the top of the email by moving your cursor over it.

  3. Select the arrow that appears at the end of the highlighted name or email address.

  4. Select Add to Contacts from the drop-down menu to open the information in the Contacts application.

  5. Enter any additional information for the contact and select Done.

  6. The sender is now in your Contacts list.

This method of safelisting protects individual email addresses, but it doesn't apply to entire domains. It's possible, however, to safelist domains by creating a Rule in Apple Mail's Preferences.