Sean Sperte

Spam Free Email (For The iPhone)

06 July 2007

Something I’ve been meaning to do for years is strategically route all my email to a single, private account, and use a reply-to address that’s already known, memorable and branded. Ironically, the iPhone, and its lack of spam filter, became the perfect catalyst for me to set it up. (And no, I [still] don’t have an iPhone. I did this in enthusiastic preparation for my future iPhone purchase.)

Diagram showing my email routing schemeFirst, I made sure all my publicly-known email addresses route to my Gmail account. Google’s email application is quick, accessible, and free. Better than that, though, their spam protection is just about perfect; almost never returning false-positives, and never in need of an update.

Still, even with all its pluses, Gmail isn’t my final solution. The “conversational” approach doesn’t translate well across multiple platforms (such as the iPhone), and since it doesn’t support the IMAP protocol, it’s not ideal for using multiple clients – desktop or mobile.

Big kudos to Google, though, because Gmail filters spam upon receiving; meaning if you set a forward address, Gmail will only forward non-spam. Hooray!

All I had to do was create a new email (IMAP) account with my web host, set Gmail to forward to that account, and set the reply-to in my email client(s) to my branded address. All incoming mail is routed through Google, and all outgoing is shown coming from my public email address(es).

Here’s the key: Of course, any curious and intelligent recipient can inspect the email headers and retrieve my “private” email address – that’s okay. Since I’m not going to give out that email address, I can easily (and regularly) change it. The only thing I need to update is Gmail’s forwarding settings.

Hopefully this solution will prove itself suitable when I’ve got my iPhone and can’t be bothered to delete all the spam I would normally receive – one at a time, since the mail app doesn’t allow multiple, simultaneous deletions.

Update: Brian Warren has pointed out that you can easily setup Mail.app to allow the reply-to address to be set on the fly.