3 October 2009

Using GMail to wash emails for Thunderbird

For some reason, one of the three family accounts gets a lot of spam and phishing mails, and it's not mine or my wife's. It's our six year-old son who gets between 20-50 messages a day offering him penis extensions, Rolex watches and cheap meds. This weekend, I had a brainwave - why not use GMail as a spam filter? It works very well on my GMail account and since you can get mail from POP accounts, and forward mail to POP accounts with it, why not put it in the loop?

It's an easy process, here I shall describe using Thunderbird with GMail, but I reckon pretty much the same should be true of other POP3 email clients.

1. First set up a GMail account you want to use. It doesn't matter the name or email address, as long as you remember it and the password you are going to use with it. You will be asked for a "safety" email address in case of problems with your GMail account. Don't put the address you are forwarding through GMail. If you're having problems with your GMail account, the last thing you want to do is to have rescue emails sent to the same address!

2. Then set up an account in Thunderbird. Use the final email address you want - here we're going with made-up relative Brian Vost at my hostname podpics.org. We're just using the standard server details that I use for Podpics.

3. Then we set up a new POP3 import for GMail on this page in the GMail settings like so:

4. Then we set up forwarding like so (you can choose to keep the mails in your GMail inbox, but I find it easier to archive them. If you want to see them in GMail you can go to the All mail "box"):

5. Now we get Thunderbird to use the GMail POP server like so:

6. For outgoing messages I used the same SMTP server as I was using for my other accounts, but it seems you can also use GMail for that - I haven't tried.

There is a delay for getting your messages, so if you're the type that needs instant access to your emails you should probably just use GMail anyway. If you aren't as bothered, the security given by using this method is great.

No comments: