How to Whitelist a Domain in Mac OS X Mail App

Keep all mail from a specific domain from ending up in the junk folder

The spam filter in Apple's Mail app is effective at catching spam while still allowing messages from known senders to reach your inbox. However, this rule applies to individual senders and those in your Contacts. It doesn't automatically allow mail from an entire domain.

You can set the Mac Mail app to allow a particular domain by using what is typically called a whitelist (the modern term is safelist). The safelist will allow mail from specified domains to come right through. To do so, you need to set up a rule in the Mail preferences.

Instructions in this article apply to Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) and later.

Steps for Safelisting a Domain

To safelist all email from a specific domain in the Mail app in Mac OS X or macOS:

  1. In the Mac OS X Mail top menu, click Mail Preferences.

    The keyboard shortcut is Command+, (comma).

    Preferences in Apple Mail
  2. Click the Rules tab.

    The Rules tab
  3. Click Add Rule.

    The Add Rule button
  4. Type a name in the Description field, such as "Safelist: example.com," to identify the new rule.

    The Description field for a new rule
  5. For the conditions, set the first dropdown menu item to any, so that it reads: If any of the following conditions are met.

    The "any" option
  6. In the next two dropdown menus, select From in the first, and Ends with for the second.

    The From and Ends With options
  7. In the text field following Ends with, enter the domain's name that you want to safelist. Include the ampersand "@" before the domain name to make the filter specific — for example, to safelist all mail from the example.com domain, but not mail that might come from one of its subdomains (such as @subdomain.example.com), type "@example.com" into the field.

    The conditions text field
  8. Click the plus sign next to the last condition to add another domain with the same criteria to safelist more domains.

    The plus sign
  9. In the Perform the following actions section set the three dropdown items to: Move Message, to the mailbox: Inbox.

    You can specify a different mail folder if you want.

    The actions in a rule
  10. Click OK to save the rule.

    The OK button
  11. Close the Rules window.

Setting Rule Order in Mac Mail App

The order of the rules you have set matters. Mail executes them one after the other, moving down the list. This point is important to consider because some messages may satisfy the criteria established in more than one rule you've created, so you'll want to consider the logical order in which you want each rule to be applied to incoming messages.

To ensure that the rule you've just created that safelists a domain is executed before others that might also apply the same message, click and drag that rule to the top, or near the top, of the rules list.

For example, if you have a filter that color-codes certain messages based on keywords in the subject, move your domain safelist rule above that labeling rule.

Junk Mail Filtering Settings in Mac Mail

Junk mail filtering is active by default in the Mail app. You can find these settings by following these steps:

  1. In the Mac OS X Mail top menu, click Mail Preferences.

    Preferences in Apple Mail
  2. Click the Junk Mail tab.

    The Junk Mail tab in Mail
  3. You can tailor your junk mail filtering settings, including specifying where junk mail should go and defining exemptions for junk mail filtering.

  4. Click Reset to return the junk mail settings to the defaults.