SpamAssassin Client Setup

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The procedures shown here are not required for SpamAssassin to work properly. SpamAssassin is typically installed on the email server and not the client. However, these steps can improve the results you see in you email client as the server does not block all spam email but rather gives each message a score idicating its likelihood of being spam.

To take full advantage of the scoring performed by SpamAssassin, it is often useful to perform email filtering on your personal computer. Since Gruff Goat is not responsible for the installation, configuration, or maintenance of your personal computer; your individual settings may differ.

What SpamAssassin Adds to Your Email

SpamAssassin adds a number of headers to your email message and may modify your message's subject line.


The header information, which may not normally be visible to you, added includes:

  • X-Spam-Checker-Version:
    • basic information about the version of SpamAssassin and the name of the email server
  • X-Spam-Level:
    • by default this is a series of *, the number of asterisks is determined by rounding down the score of the message
  • X-Spam-Status:
    • states whether the message was scored spam and also what tests were matched

For our filtering purposes, the only header field we need to pay attention to is X-Spam-Level.

Subject line

Many email servers may choose to change the subject line of your message by prepending the original subject with the string [spam]. GoGoat email servers do not modify your subject line.

Filter using MS Outlook 2002

Outlook offers a rules wizard that provides an intuitive interface to creating filters and other rules.

  1. Open the Rules Wizard by selecting it from the Tools menu.
  2. Click the New... button in the Rules Wizard dialog box.
  3. Start from a blank rule and check the messages when they arrive. Click Next.
  4. Select 'with specific words in the message header'.
  5. In the bottom pane, click on the blue underlined 'specific words'.
  6. In the Search Text dialog enter 'X-Spam-Level: ****'.
    1. The number of * depend on the sensitivity level you wish to use. As an example you could filter 7 asterisks to 'Absolutely spam' and 4 asterisks to 'Maybe spam'.
  7. Click 'Add' and then 'OK'.
    1. You returned to the previous dialog box but notice that 'specific words' has now changed to the 'X-Spam-Level' text.
  8. Now select what you want to happen to messages scored as spam.
    1. I usually move them to a special folder for later verification and deletion. So let's move the messages to a special folder name 'spam'.
  9. Select 'move to the specified folder'. In the bottom pane, click on the blue underlined 'specified'.
  10. In the dialog box select the correct folder to move spam to and click 'OK or create a new folder by clicking 'New'.
  11. You returned to the Rules Wizard dialog which should look very similar to the image below.
  12. Click 'Next'. Since we don't wish to add any exceptions, click 'Next' again.
  13. Give the newly created rule a name such as 'Certain Spam' or ' Maybe Spam' and click 'Finish'.

If you have created more than one rule make certain they are processed in the correct order using the Rules Wizard dialog shown below. Rules are processed from the top down. Move a rule by highlighting it and clicking on 'Move Up' or 'Move Down'. The rule checking for the most asterisks should be processed first. Rules that have a checkmark next to them are currently active.

Finally, click 'OK' to complete your rule completion and activation. The next email you receive into your inbox will now be automatically processed using the rules you have just created.

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