Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Outlook 2007 – more bugs and Junk Mail filter failure

Posted by shannonclark on May 14, 2007

Tonight (well technically this morning) I downloaded a bunch of mail to my installation of Outlook 2007, a bit surprised that in doing so I was told it was catching junk mail (since I am pulling down from gmail where there are already pretty good junk/spam mail filters). In the past I have been reasonably impressed with Microsoft Outlook’s Junk Mail filters.

Not so anymore.

In looking at my junk mail folder – which at the time I looked had nearly 4000 messages (not as surprising as it may sound, I get nearly 400-500 emails every day) so this was from not much more than a month or two of mail – at first glance over 90% of the messages in the “Junk Mail” folder for Outlook 2007 were NOT junk mail.

These messages included mail I had sent myself (from my gmail account). Personal messages to me from my mother. A wide range of direct and indirect messages – many from mailing lists for which I have rules set up.

But 90% of the messages not actually being Junk Mail is totally and completely unacceptable.

Further, there is not way, at least not that I can determine, to once you have marked one instance of a message (say to a mailing list) as not being junk mail to automatically go through the junk mail folder and correct the processing of all of the messages of that type (indeed if you select more than one message from the junk mail folder you no longer have the option of marking them as not junk). Yes, when you mark a message as “not junk” you then get asked whether you want to add the sender to your list of “safe senders” and the recipient to your “safe recipients”  list. But doing so does not let you get a chance to do so for all such messages in the folder.

Thus if, like me, you have 4000 messages in the folder there is no way for you to go through the messages and clean them up other than pretty much go through them one message at a time marking the false positives as “not junk” (and dealing in each case with the automatically generated pop-up window asking you to add that sender – even when that sender is already on your safe senders list!)

Unbelievably bad. And this was at the “LOW” setting.

I can only imagine that should I have set the “junk mail” filter any higher, I would have had 10,000+ messages in my junk mail folder.

And woe befall you if you have set your junk mail to be automatically deleted!

No wonder email is growing less reliable – the newest version of Outlook  seems to feel that people should not get their messages at all.

And a performance set of issues.

I gave up on setting the rules (I’m  also going to just turn off junk mail filters) and decided to just move all the messages to my inbox.

Then I tried to open up my inbox.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. Apparently about 8000 messages is too many for Outlook to handle gracefully, it has to calculate all types of things (I guess) and so I waited to open up my own inbox for a number of minutes.

My experience with Outlook 2007 so far has not be a positive one. Indeed I am so unimpressed I find myself rarely trying to use it, though I would like it to be workable. Indeed I hoped it would be workable.

I fear it is not.

36 Responses to “Outlook 2007 – more bugs and Junk Mail filter failure”

  1. Hi Shannon,

    Wondering if you’re experiencing a problem that I am having with Outlook 2007. When I’m reviewing new messages in my Inbox, occasionally a message I encounter will instantly get moved to the Junk folder right when I click on it. Or what I think is actually happening is I’ll delete a particular message, and as the program precedes to the next message, it instantly moves that message to the Junk folder. I then have to go the Junk folder and move it back to the Inbox each time. Can’t find anything on the net or in the Microsoft support database about it. Frustrating.


  2. Hi Shannon,

    I too get a ton of emails every day, and lots of them get transmitted to my BlackBerry which unfortunately exceeds my data plan every month, hence $$.

    I have tried setting a bunch of rules in Outlook 2007, but it seems to run out of room and won’t let me create more than abou 20 rules.

    Is there a way to configure either Outlook or Exchange 2003 to increase the number of rules? Or is there software out there than can do the same thing?

    • rebecca said

      Something about Outlook email rules that many may not be aware is that they are determined to work by either being a client side rule (your actual account and being logged in) or a server side rule (exchange server settings/policies). You’ll want to research the rule you are trying to create and see which type governs it. For this reason, i am not fond of Outlook rules….. Good luck!

    • myles said

      Your blackberry is either getting the mails from the BES or direct from exchange. Neither of these will provide spam filtering for you. Your outlook rules will only kick in when outlook is open and processes the mails. using a blackberry means that never happens.

      You need to put proper filtering on your exchange server. BES Servers send mails before the exchange even has a chance to filter them.

  3. Hi Shannon,

    Found your blog through google!
    I am having the same problem. I had set one “automated” message to go into Junk Mail. Now Outlook thinks anyone else is received that message is also a junk mail sender. So now, my boss’s email and a number of other people I work with – go into Junk Mail. Anyone who gets mail from any of those people, Outlook has associated with Junk Mail. I even have the Junk Mail sensitivity turned off, and still, everything goes into Junk Mail. Not to mention, all of these people are already on my Safe Senders list.

    I was looking around to see if I could find any solutions, maybe a back-end file that has to be edited or deleted. I will come back here & let you know if I find anything.


  4. Andrew said

    I advise blowing away your present install of Outlook and reinstalling.


  5. Wesley B said

    I too found this discussion via a Google search.

    Ever since mid October all mail from addresses are going to my Junk Folder. I specifically added some of those addresses to the Safe Senders List and made sure there was nothing in my Blocked Senders List that would suggest them being Junk mail. after all that, they are still judged to be Junk/SPAM.

    I have uninstalled an dreinstalled Outlook. I have tried disabing other security programs and SPAM blockers. nothing seems to work!

    I have been researching this problem on many forums and it is quite common now and still, no one has a solution. The Microsoft and Outlook forums do not have any mention of this and my direct inquires to Microsoft Tech support and Gmail have gone unanswered.

    If anyone does find nan actual solution ot this problem, PLEASE post it!

  6. Jason Ayala said

    Okay so I am trying to get into the habit of ending these threads I find when I research a problem with the solution I find and what ultimately works.

    I ran across this page using a different search string.

    I found it useful and it seemed to resolve my issues.

    Jason Ayala

  7. Jason,

    You missed my point – it is not updating the rules (I have automatic updates set) but rather that Outlook 2007 just utterly fails to work on people, like me, with very high volumes of mail.

    Plus false positives (real mail marked at junk) are a truly serious problem. Gmail too suffers from some – this is a likely failure point for nearly all junk mail filters (probably all in fact) but it also needs to be improved and fixed.


  8. This site:

    if the messages in the Junk Email folder have the subject marked with a stamp such as “[SPAM]”, then a non-Outlook filtering is running on the inbox. This is because Outlook does not stamp messages identified as junk with any sort of label.

    I went into my AVG virus control center and turned off it’s anti-spam

    • thoswinter said

      Thank you! I didn’t know that my AVG was the culprit, but I looked inside and saw that it was marking things [SPAM] and interacting with Outlook. I think this will solve my issue. Thanks again!

  9. Yes, Outlook 2007 falls flat. In my case, the junk mail filter only takes 50 % of the junk mail, while taking 5 % of the non-junk mail. It completely ignores my attempts at configuration. Horrendously microsoftish. Sorry, I meant horrendously bad.

  10. Sheriff said

    Thanks Michael Washington!

    Like many others, good messages were ending up in the Outlook 2007 “Junk” folder – often while I was reading them in the ‘Reading Pane.’ I wanted to turn off junk mail filtering, but had to settle for the “No Automatic…” setting. Still, good mail got filtered.

    I had been reading through that same Alessio Roic blog, but didn’t make it down to the March 28, 2008 comment about 3rd party filters using the Outlook junk mail folder. I too have now turned OFF my AVG spam filter. Hope that works.

    Thanks again Michael!

  11. Bob said

    I find the best mail viewer is the free, fast, Mozilla Thunderbird. It may miss advanced features such as calendar, but this can easily be added with free easily available plugins like “lightning”. Microsofts software is often the slowest and most bloated.

    • Peter French said

      One problem with Thunderbird is that although you can transfer all of your mail and addresses books across, if you need to revert to Outlook you can’t transfer anything back.

  12. Luc said

    It’s getting worse instead of better.

    Most of the mail I receive are automatically generated status messages from systems I administer all over the country. For a mail filter, these look like mailing lists (my address is in BCC), so I always expected some false positives – but it’s always been better than I expected.

    But after receiving the March 2009 updates through windows update, the number of false positives I get in Outlook 2007 jumped up from that acceptable level (less than 1%) to about half of all the mail I receive. Just like that.

    Messages that were routed to a folder other than my inbox by a filter, with “stop processing more rules” explicitly set, are now suddenly routed to my junk mail filter instead. For those categories (filters) that are affected, 100% of their mails are suddenly considered spam.

    Another thing I noticed is that it now seems to regard each and every mail that has the word “cash” in the subject line as spam, even if the mail was sent locally by someone else using the same Exchange server. Ridiculous: don’t they realize that there are people doing business who might use that word legitimately?

  13. Stephan said



  14. Stephan said


  15. John said

    We are having messages from addresses on the Safe Sender’s list moved in to the Junk Mail folder. I am unable to find a resolution to this on the web. Does anyone have a solution?

    • Sharon Kahn said

      Just to mention… exactly the same problem as Shannon describes–and I too have a lot of emails in my folders, and have tried to reinstall, even to a newly formatted computuer. Weirdly, the program will suddenly migrate hundreds of already-read emails from my inbox…sometimes old ones, sometimes new. I just received a tip from another site to try adding a new profile to see if the behavior continues. Will let you know if that works. But this seems to be a prevalent problem. May just have to abandon use of Outlook. Way too much hassle.

  16. Mario said

    I had the same problem in my Outlook 2007. Everything that I did to mark the email as safe sender, not junkmail and etcetera, did not work, it all went to Junkmail. After evaluating the issue, it appears that an update by my AVG antivirus was marking the email as spam and somehow overwritting my Outlook 2007 Junkmail settings. After adjusting the mail settings through my AVG spam filter everything works fine.

  17. Jason said

    Saying you found this site via a Google search is like pulling into a friends driveway and telling him you got there via the road

  18. Damohayes said

    I had a similar problem to this in Outlook 2007 and solution was to go to Tools-Options-Preferences-Junk Email and select low as the setting and okay.User had safelist selected. Voila all email transcended from Junk to Inbox and normal activity resumed. User had inadvertently changed the setting! And here was me checking the email config, meta etc…. Tut tut!

  19. Renae said

    I have the exact opposite problem. I have my settings to only accept mail from my safe list, yet ALL the junk mail ends up in my inbox.

    I upgraded Office from 2003 to 2007 two weeks ago and I still can’t get Outlook to filter my mail. I never had a problem with 03.

    I’ve checked all the lists, all the domains who are junk are still there, I exported my list from OL 2003 and installed in 07. Yet nothing works.

    I even add a junk address to the list, check to see if it’s there, then when I get another e-mail from the same domain, it still goes to my inbox.

    There’s something seriously wrong with OL 07.

  20. S. Wolf said

    The problem as I see it is that you’re using Outlook. I use Eudora and have never had cause for complaint. Some friends use Thunderbird and they, too, have been happy. Microsoft products tend to be buggy as hell. Why use them if one doesn’t need to? Give me Wordperfect over Word any day, for example.

    • I am not, actually, using Outlook these days (neither am I using Thunderbird or Eudora – I’ve shifted entirely to webmail) but that doesn’t excuse Microsoft from making a crappy product with serious bugs & annoyances. My intention is to highlight a few that I encountered. And as to why – well millions of people have to for their work.

  21. Lisa said

    I too was having major problems with good emails going in to the junk mail folder. My filter was “off” and still things were going in there. Once the email was in the junk mail, I could not even move it to another folder so I could read it. I have AVG and after reading the suggestion to turn off the Anti Spam on AVG I tried this. That seems to have solved the problem.

  22. Philip said

    Lisa and Mario are correct! At least in my case. I was loosing my mind — my wife’s emails, along with those from others on my safe list, kept showing up in Outlook’s junk email folder.

    I hadn’t realized that AVG Anti-virus now includes a SPAM filter, which carefully places emails it decides are spam into Outlook’s Junk e-mail folder. Based on their posts above, I checked my AVG installation, discovered the Anti-Spam tool, turned it off, and now things are working as I expected – I have my setting at Outlook Spam filtering set to Low, I get more spam in my Inbox, but no one on my safe lists are going to the Junk email folder.

    Of course, now AVG keeps telling me I’m not “properly protected” …

  23. Raimonds said

    I have Outlook 2007 SP2 and problems with good emails going in to the junk mail. All recomendations from this forum nad from do not help! Interesting is that different but very similar emails from some sender is going ~50% to the Inbox, ~50% to Junk E-mail! The problem persists only from March 2010! Problem is for ~1% from all incoming emails.

  24. Simon Jediwitz said

    Try switching to Clyton. It has a great spam filter and is very configurable.

  25. jc_atl said

    I upgraded my office desktop from Office 2003 -> Office 2007. Now my Outlook Junk Mail filtering is completely non-functional. Safe sender’s list is empty. I can put a specific email address in my blocked senders list and emails from that address still land in my Inbox and never get moved to my Junk Mail folder unless I move them myself (or click block sender’s address).

    I have SP2 and whatever updates my corporate IT folks have allowed through. Utter garbage from Microsoft. While suggestions for other email clients are appreciated, I doubt my company is going to let me use something non-standard. Very disappointed. I now have to manually move hundreds of emails a week to my junk mail folder manually.

    • I don’t know a specific solution to your problem but if don’t have a lot of other configurations you might try deleting all of your configuration information and starting Office 2007 fresh & then reimporting your emails etc? Might be some setting that didn’t convert well during the upgrade?

      Sounds like a problem that likely other people who have upgraded may have seen – you might also want to see about upgrading to Office 2010 (though that of course depends on your company) which may have yet more changes/improvements in store (I haven’t used it yet myself)

      good luck,


  26. Iuliana said

    Hello everybody,

    I was experiencing the same issues and I tried all the possible solutions. Today, the situation became unbearable as I almost lost a business client. And I decided to take an in-depth look into this crazy Outlook 2007 software, maybe I would identify the problem.

    And I was more than surprised to find out the following thing: I checked my e-mail rules, and there I found the rule named ”on this machine only”. It was ticked, therefore active. This rule says that ALL e-mails should be moved to the junk e-mail folder. This is very strange as 3 weeks ago (before all my e-mails started to go to the junk folder) I clearly remember that I had only 2 rules (”clear categories on mail” and ”out of office auto reply”). How this strange rule appeared is beyond my knowledge. But now I fixed it and I tried sending some test e-mails. And, guess what! Now, they all go to the INBOX folder. Problem solved!

  27. dwallace12 said

    Came across this while researching why Outlook 2007 puts messages from Contacts and people I’ve emailed into Junk. This is not a commercial. . .for nearly 10 years, I have used a nifty anti-spam app called ChoiceMail. It quarantines everything from senders who aren’t on the safe list and then makes it REALLY easy to approve the ones you want. By default, it has a challenge response mechanism, but you can turn that off (I did). It imports contacts from Outlook/Eudora/etc., and also whitelists on the fly. Unlimited rules, but here you use rules to define and accept good mail, not to define spam. No need to. It also lets you identify mailing lists so you don’t have the guilt-by-association or unintended-reply-all problems.

    In short, it works GREAT. Install it, import your contacts (easy), and turn off ALL other filtering. You will have no more spam problem, and you will be surprised how rarely you see a legitimate unknown sender in your quarantine, especially after the first few weeks (during this time, you will see most of the mail you get from senders who aren’t in your Contacts. After that, you’ll be down to a couple of new senders a week.) Email will go into the correct folders and stay there. If you use POP3, you can install the desktop version. If you use exchange (or webmail), you need to have your admin install the “Enterprise” version, which processes spam before it reaches the Exchange or other email server.

    The only weakness in this model is that unless you’re in a position to use the Enterprise version, the spam will still show up on your smartphone. I use the filter that my hosting company provides (Spam Assassin) on a relatively low setting (no false positives) to deal with this. That makes life in my iPhone plenty tolerable without any false positives.

    I recently moved to a new laptop and decided to try making all of this work in Outlook, just for grins. Still playing with it, but I will be going back to ChoiceMail. It’s the difference between having a spam problem and NOT having a spam problem.

  28. R Wright said

    I have the latest Outlook (2012) and it won’t allow emails to go to my inbox even though I added it to my safe list. They suck.

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