Looking for suggestions to combat a strange quirk

After procrastinating for some time, I downloaded the new Mavericks (aka, v. 10.9) of the Mac operating system. In general, the transition seems to have been smooth but there has been an odd quirk with respect to mail in that I am now being flooded with porn spam.

My university has, like many institutions, an arrangement with Google to handle our mail. But I like to download my mail from the Google server to the Mail utility that comes with the Mac since it is easier to sort and handle them within that utility. I believe that my university (and Google) have filters that blocks most spam. Before the transition to Mavericks I would still get some spam that wriggled through but almost all of it was from companies and organizations advertising regular products and I could understand them getting past the filters. I would put repeat offenders individually on a reject list.

But after the transition to Mavericks, I get a whole lot of junk mail that is clearly coming from the same source although the senders’ identity changes considerably, making it impossible to put them on a reject list on an individualized basis. These messages are all of the same type, although there is some variation in the wording. The subject line says something like “How to gratify your girl” or “A little help for you”. The message consists almost entirely of one line with a url followed by a short sentence like “Are you ready to satisfy your girlfriend at night?” or “The only method to intensify your love life”. So you get the drift.

These messages appear in my junk folder and there are a lot. I never got these before I switched to Mavericks and I am surprised by the sudden influx. It is really annoying because a lot of legitimate email ends up in the junk folder and so I have to go through that folder to rescue them and cannot blindly delete all of them.

The problem of junk mail is a serious one that keeps systems managers working hard to keep ahead of them and I am sympathetic to their plight. What I am curious about is why the adoption of a new operating system may be causing this, unless this is a pure coincidence and the spam managed to break through the server filters at the same time as I switched, as was suggested to me by the person at the computer help desk at my university.

Anyone else experienced this problem and any thoughts from computer (especially Mac) mavens as to how to deal with it?


  1. jamessweet says

    The first question that comes to my mind is, are you entirely positive that the transition to Mavericks was the trigger? Your e-mail address could have wound up on a list you don’t want it on, that’s another thing that could trigger a huge sudden increase in spam.

    Apparently Mavericks is now more correct in its handling of the IMAP protocol, so it could be related to that too:


  2. corwyn says

    Is it possible that in the transition, the Mac spam filters got reset? Mac has (or used to have) a spam filter based on Bayesian analysis of mail, which got better the more you used it. If it got reset, it might need to relearn the characteristics of the spam you get. It is possible that you could get the old file from before the transition.

  3. bruce says

    My guess is that it is a coincidence. I think that junk mail filtering by the Mac OS X will move the junk to your junk box; so if you weren’t seeing it there before, then it wasn’t OS X that had been stopping it before.
    Maybe your school ISP changed something, or maybe someone put your address on a spam list, and it just happens to be at this time.
    Good luck.

  4. Lukas says

    Could it be that your Mail app is misconfigured, and you’re somehow looking at all of your gmail mail (including the mail in the spam folder), rather than just your inbox?

  5. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’m not up on QCD, so combatting a strange quark is beyond my wheelhouse, much less my ability. I think it would take some specialized equipment. Perhaps you could talk to someone at CERN?

    Oh? Oh…strange quirk? Oh!


  6. Mano Singham says

    I think that it is probably due to a coincidence, that my email got on some list around the same time that I switched. The uncanny timing is what made me suspicious that they were linked. But coincidences do happen.

    But I ams till going to try looking into the other suggestions that were made.


  7. fwtbc says

    I’d do the following:

    First, stop using imap to check email and see what’s going on when you access it via gmail. See if you’re still getting the same number and kind of spam messages, and whether or not they’re appearing in your inbox or are being correctly placed into gmail’s Spam folder.

    If everything looks good when you access it via gmail, what’s probably happening is that your mail client is downloading ALL messages where as previously it was only getting the inbox.

    There may be a config option that’ll let you choose whether or not to download all folders or just the inbox. There may also be options do maintain the same folder structure, so that anything in the “Spam” folder on gmail will be placed in a folder of the same name in your imap client (possibly only if it already exists, possibly creating it if necessary).

    It’s worth noting that even if folder structure is being maintained, local spam detection/filtering may make it appear like it isn’t and keep moving mails that would otherwise go into “Spam” into “junk”.

    No idea if any of this applies to you. I don’t have a mac, nor do I use a typical imap/pop3 mail client (I use Mutt), but those are all the angles I’d look at when trying to fix this.

    Good luck!

  8. Mano Singham says


    Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to devote some time to trying these and the other suggestions and hope at least one works!

  9. Anthony Burber says

    If your e-mail is hosted through Google, does that mean you can log into Google’s webmail interface and view your mail there? I would do so, and compare the Google “spam” folder with the one you see in Apple Mail.

    Why do this? As others have said, IMAP behavior between Apple Mail and GMail accounts has been changing. It sounds like:
    (1) Prior to the update, your GMail “spam” folder was remaining hidden on the server. The Apple Mail “junk” would only contain messages that GMail let through, but Apple Mail classified as junk.
    (2) After the update, Apple Mail started synchronizing the GMail spam folder with its junk folder.

    If I’m correct, then the GMail spam folder will now look identical to your Apple Mail junk folder. If I’m wrong, you’ll find that the GMail spam folder has messages that you’ve never previously seen (and probably never wanted to).

  10. Mano Singham says

    @Anthony and fwtbc,

    I checked and the Gmail spam folder and my Mail junk mail folder seem to be identical, as you suggested they may be. So what should I do now?

    I looked at my Mail settings and couldn’t find anything that I could adjust.

  11. Mano Singham says

    @Anthony and fwtbc,

    I found a webpage that told me how to fix it. I followed the directions and will let you know if it works.

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