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How can I stop Outlook or OWA putting incoming email into the Junk E-Mail folder?


Sometimes, seemingly for no apparent reason, Outlook or Outlook Web App (OWA) will put genuine email into your Junk E-Mail folder.  Usually some feature of the message will have caused it to be treated as junk.  This can even happen to email from colleagues within the university. As a result, people are often led to believe they haven't even received the message, until they discover it later in the Junk E-Mail folder.  Recipients may even notice the newly-delivered message appear in their Inbox, only for it to vanish a moment later.

Outlook uses a built-in, fixed set of filtering rules to scan emails in order to identify likely spam.  The filtering rules are controlled by regular updates from Microsoft, and unfortunately they cannot be changed or disabled by IT Services.  As the behaviour is not universal, it's likely that other features of some emails tip them over a 'junk threshold' and cause them to be put into the Junk E-Mail folder.

Email from a given address, or from an entire mail domain (usually an organisation such as sussex.ac.uk), or indeed all your incoming mail can be protected from being 'junked', as follows.

The method varies slightly, according to your version of Outlook.  Note also that if you use Outlook Web App (OWA) in addition to standard Outlook, you will need to apply the method to both applications as described below.

OUTLOOK 2013 and 2010

If you want to stop all junk filtering by Outlook, do the following:

  1. Click on the Junk tool button in the toolbar near the top left of the Outlook window.
  2. Click to select Junk E-Mail Options.
    At this point you may see a message box appear, with the message "The Junk E-mail filter is not available for your Microsoft exchange e-mail account because you are working online.  To enable the Junk E-mail filter, switch to Cached Exchange Mode."
    If this happens, ignore the instruction, click on OK and continue with step 3.
  3. Click the topmost option, labelled No Automatic Filtering.
    (however, note that if you have specified any blocked senders, any messages from them will still go into the Junk E-Mail folder)
  4. Click OK.

If you want to use the Outlook junk filter selectively, do the following:

  1. Click to select the message from the address or domain you want to accept in future.
  2. Click on the Junk tool button in the toolbar near the top left of the Outlook window.
  3. To always accept messages from that single address, click on the Never Block Sender option.
    To always accept email from the sender's domain (for example, sussex.ac.uk) click the Never Block Sender's Domain option (but see the Note below).
  4. Outlook should confirm the selection.  Click OK.

OUTLOOK WEB APP (OWA)

If you want to stop all junk filtering by OWA, do the following:

  1. Click on the Options tool at the top right of the OWA page.
  2. Click on See All Options...
  3. Click on Block or Allow in the column on the left.
  4. Click to select the Don't move e-mail to my Junk E-Mail folder option, which is at the top.
  5. Click on Save at the bottom right.

If you want to use the OWA junk filter selectively, do the following:

  1. Click on the Options tool at the top right of the OWA page.
  2. Click on See All Options...
  3. Click on Block or Allow in the column on the left.
  4. Click the Automatically filter junk e-mail option.
  5. Add addresses to the Safe Senders and Recipients list, or the Blocked Senders list, as required.
  6. Click on Save at the bottom right.

It would still be wise to check your Junk E-Mail folder from time to time "just in case", or if an expected email doesn't seem to have arrived.

NOTE: We recommend you do not use the Never Block Sender's Domain feature for email from large service provider domains, such as hotmail.com.  This is because they cannot be treated as email from a single organisation.   It is far better to set Outlook to 'trust' email from individual, trusted email addresses from such large domains.

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Created by Andy Clews on 8 February 2012 and last updated by Richard Byrom-Colburn on 29 September 2016