Get Rid of SPAM Fast: Optimize the Outlook Junk Email Folder for Speed Recognition & Deleting of SPAM

Outlook does a pretty good job of identifying and then moving spam mail into your Junk Email folder – but it’s not enough.

You still need to check and clear this folder regularly to make sure nothing legitimate gets caught.

Unfortunately you can’t simply clear out your spam by deleting everything in your Junk Email folder – what if there is a false positive and that important email was caught in the crossfire?

What we need to accomplish (in as little time as possible!), is a way of manually identifying and deleting the spam.

Here are some tips on setting up your Outlook Junk Email folder to be super-efficient in this quest!

Sort and group by subject

Spam tends to be repetitive, so a quick way to spot SPAM is to sort your message by subject.  As an added bonus, group your messages as this will make the SPAM visually pop-out:

Outlook folder sorted and grouped

To sort & group by subject, go to your JUNK EMAIL folder then:

  1. Choose VIEW, then Sort by subject in the ARRANGEMENT group.
  2. Then, again in the ARRANGEMENT GROUP, [Click] Expand group and make sure SHOW IN GROUPS is checked:
    Sorting by subject and show in group

Or, sort & group your emails without using the menu:

  1. Select the existing sort method at the top of your folder (usually BY DATE), then choose SUBJECT.
  2. Select the sort method again and choose SHOW IN GROUPS.
    Sort and group email

Preview your messages

When the subject of an email isn’t enough, the first few lines of an email can often quickly identify SPAM messages.  To setup a preview of the first part of your message:

  1. Choose VIEW, MESSAGE PREVIEW, then the number of lines to preview.  I like 1 LINE as it allows me to see more messages on the screen at once.
    Preview emails
  2. In the dialogue that pops up, choose if you want to change the preview settings for just THIS FOLDER. Or, if you like this feature and you would like to see it everywhere, choose ALL MAILBOXES.

What about legitimate email messages?

Next, we want to be able to quickly evaluate possible legitimate messages.

Instead of double-clicking to open legitimate emails, let’s set you up to view them using the Reading Pane option.

    Outlook turn on reading pane
  2. Now to view a message you just have to select it.

Now for some super quick Outlook Junk Email scanning, selecting & deleting!

Now that you are all set up, let’s quickly deal with that spam!

To do so, you’ll want to get proficient with a few keyboard commands.  Here is the routine I go through as I clear through my spam folder.

  1. Select the first SPAM message.
  2. Hold down the <Shift> key.
  3. Quickly scan the messages.  Now that you’ve setup your folder with grouping, sorting and message preview you’ll be able to see fairly quickly if all 10 or so messages showing are spam.
  4. If all the messages are SPAM, then press the <Page Down> key while continuing to hold the <Shift> key.
  5. Now all the SPAM messages are selected.  Let go of <Shift> and press <Delete>.
    Tip: If you hold down the <Shift> key and press <Delete> you will permanently delete the emails.  As we’re zooming through the Junk Email folder I like to just <Delete> which sends the messages to the DELETED ITEMS folder – just in case!
  6. If you spot a possible legitimate message and don’t want to select an entire screen’s worth of email using <Shift – Page Down>:
    1. Hold down <Shift> and use the <Down Arrow> key to select the SPAM up to the potentially legitimate message.
    2. Press <Delete>.
    3. Now select the message and check it out in the Reading Pane.
    4. If it is legitimate, move it to your INBOX (To keep my hands on the keyboard, I use <Ctrl-Shift-V> to select the move command, then use <Home> and the arrow keys to select the INBOX.Or, to move the email to your INBOX and prevent messages from the sender from ending up in JUNK EMAIL in the future, choose HOME, JUNK, NEVER BLOCK SENDER.
      Never send sender to Junk email

Deleting entire groups

So you’re now motoring through your SPAM.  One last tip – if you get a particularly large group of SPAM, you can select and delete the entire bunch by selecting the group header and pressing <Delete>:

If the header is just above the message you currently have selected, you can select it using the <Up Arrow> key.

Selecting an entire group of emails

How about you?  Do you use any tricks to clear out your SPAM in Outlook?