SpamSieve 2.1.2
Company: Michael’s Macintosh Software (By Michael Tsai)
Price: $24 US (Downloadable only)

The one major problem that I’ve had with my email program, PowerMail, is that the spam filters just don’t do the job as well as I would like them to. When one has to set up multiple folders of spam addresses to keep them from inundating my mailboxes constantly, it’s time to find something that really works without constantly having to make adjustments and enter data.

Into the picture came SpamSieve and how things have changed. SpamSieve, developed by Michael Tsai, utilizes Bayesian spam filters to learn what spam looks like and then block it from getting into your in-box. It checks your address book so that it won’t prohibit “good” mail from getting through to you and only marks “bad” mail as spam or places them in a Spam folder so that you can check and verify that the analysis was correct. Bayesian filters, without getting really technical as a lot of people will when talking Bayesian filters, means that they calculate the chances that a message is spam based upon the contents of the message. Bayesian filters learn to differentiate between good mail and spam that results in an adaptive process that produces very few false positives. (False positives are good emails that wind up being mistakenly identified as spam) Because the Bayesian system builds up a list of what is good and bad based upon what you tell it and what it sees in your email program, it works better then the old content-based-scoring spam filtering systems.

Installing SpamSieve is fast and easy; you just double-click on the SpamSieve.dmg file to mount the SpamSieve disk image, then you just simply move the SpamSieve application into your Applications folder. Once you’ve done that, you just follow the instructions in the SpamSieve Manual that is installed by just selecting it from the Help menu. Select the email program that you use and follow the instructions on how to set up SpamSieve for your email program.

SpamSieve is designed to work with Mac OS 10.2.6 through 10.3.2 and works with Apple Mail, eMailer, Entourage 9.0.1 and later, Eudora 5.2 and later, Mailsmith 1.5 and later, and PowerMail 4.0 and later. Once you’ve set up SpamSieve with your email program, you have to teach it what is good mail and what is spam. You do this by simply selecting some messages and telling SpamSieve to add them to its corpus. The more messages you train SpamSieve with, the better its accuracy will be. As the instructions say, “For best results, you should train it with at least 600 messages, with 65% of them being spam for the best results.” Now just consider how much email you get, how much is spam, and in all reality, it really won’t take that long for you to get the corpus up to that level.

If you don’t get that much spam but you still want to use SpamSieve, you can import Seed Spam. This command will add about 1400 spam messages (taken from a public archive) to the corpus in order to jump-start spam recognition. You will still need to train SpamSieve with your own good messages, as accuracy will be much better if you train SpamSieve with your own spam rather than the seed spam.

You can adjust SpamSieve to the level of spam filtering that you want by going into the preferences and just sliding the knob to where you want it to be, Conservative with fewer False Positives, all the way up to Aggressive-Catch More Spam. Me, I just left mine in the middle range but I plan on testing it out even more as the corpus gets more spam in the mix.

I’ve been using SpamSieve now for over 2 months and I’m impressed. I’ve presently running at a 98% correct rate. Prior to using SpamSieve I think I had a 3% correct rate. It’s a great help that the spam is not just winding up in my in-box but being placed in a separate folder that is marked “Spam” that permits me to take a quick look at it daily just to make sure that a message hasn’t slipped by and then to delete it all. (I’ve now changed the AppleScript to move all “spam” items directly into the Mail Trash where I look at them and once I’m satisfied that they’re really junk mail, I delete them immediately) I wish that my ISP had a filtering system that worked this well because I’m really getting tired of the amount of junk that is coming into my email program that they haven’t stopped with their “Spam Filters.” I know that as time goes on here, my correct rate with SpamSieve will only increase.

If you’re encountering spam problems and you’re at your wits end, I highly recommend that you check out SpamSieve if you have one of the email programs that I’ve listed above. For the price, it’s the best expenditure of money for peace of email that I can think of.

System Requirements: Mac OS 10.2.6 through 10.3.3 and it works with Apple Mail, eMailer, Entourage 9.0.1 and later, Eudora 5.2 and later, Mailsmith 1.5 and later, and PowerMail 4.0 and later.

Highly Recommended!

My Mac Rating: 5 out of 5

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