Create a pseudo-block in Apple Mail
July 31, 2010 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way, in Apple Mail, to set a filter that will immediately move an email to the trash AND send an auto-response to the sender, stating that his email has been blocked/rejected? Flagging it as spam is not an option--I want to never even see the message, and I do check my spam occasionally for false positives.
posted by polexxia to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Under Preferences, there's a tab called "Rules." If you click "Add Rule," you can create a rule for your mail account to perform all those actions if you receive mail from a certain sender.

Just use the "+" sign after the first "Perform the following actions" to create an additional step.

So, you'd have "Delete message" then click +
and you'd have "Reply to message" and you can write the reply text.

If you view your account on another device, though, I don't think that rule will hold.
posted by gladly at 2:35 PM on July 31, 2010

Response by poster: Hah, nothing to do with an ACTUAL spammer, it's just that my immediate thought was "flag it as spam", until I found out that she checks her spam filter. Thanks for the input!
posted by polexxia at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2010

Correct. You'd need to keep you Mac running Mail for these rules to work. If your mail provider supports, it you may wish to set up some sort of server-side rules.

I would say rather than use gladly's rules tab in Mail preference, use the "Junk Mail" tab and hit Advanced to send the reply.

If the people you're deleting/replying to aren't known it is entirely possible you'll get a bounced reply from your reply because the return address wasn't legit. Hence, you'll get a new email in your inbox when Mail replied to the unwanted mail.

posted by birdherder at 3:24 PM on July 31, 2010

until I found out that she checks her spam filter

I hate to be Mr Nosy, but it sounds like you're trying to prevent someone reading their messages (which aren't spam), and tell the other person that their address has been blocked, without that first person knowing. Which is prima facie not cool.

And it doesn't sound like an old grandma or something, else she wouldn't be checking her spam filter.

Care to put my overly suspicious mind at ease?

posted by djgh at 3:29 PM on July 31, 2010

Response by poster: It's for a friend of mine (We are both straight females--no romantic issues/potential issues here, not even UST LOL) who asked for my help with handling emails from her ex-boyfriend. She would prefer not to see them, and wanted to know if there is a way to ACTUALLY block his emails with a bounce message. Since she doesn't administer her own domain, I didn't think there was, and I was trying to actually help her out with a way to "emulate" the effect (since she wants him to know that she's not receiving the messages, which I personally think is silly).
posted by polexxia at 4:06 PM on July 31, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, and the reason that I originally posted it as "my" question instead of "I have a friend who..." is because of the exact way that it was taken--"Are you trying to prevent someone from seeing what they want to see?"

So that was a HUGE error on my part.
posted by polexxia at 4:09 PM on July 31, 2010

Forward you mail to Gmail. It has great filters that will do this for you. You can still check your mail in your Apple Mail client.
posted by fifilaru at 5:55 PM on July 31, 2010

Oh forgot, she never has to check her Gmail account, so she never has to see the "bounced" emails.
posted by fifilaru at 5:57 PM on July 31, 2010

Sorry for being so suspicious polexxia.

It seems that what you want is an auto-bounce feature in Mail, but I can't see a way to do that (unless someone is good with Applescript and can throw something together).

Other than that, routing through Gmail might be your best option.
posted by djgh at 2:37 AM on August 1, 2010

and I hate to jump to conclusions, but it might not be the worst idea to set this up so that the emails from him go into a folder and are marked read so she doesn't have to see them but she has them in case things ever get weird with the ex boyfriend.
posted by lemniskate at 5:10 AM on August 1, 2010

So I'm going to summarize, in the hopes of better understanding.

What you're trying to do is have your email client send DSN (Delivery Status Notification) messages. Clients do not send these - mail servers do. Thus, I suppose you'd like to emulate one - specifically a hard bounce message, giving the sender (the ex-boyfriend) the impression that the email address he is sending to is no longer accepting mail.

Is that an accurate summary?

This is going to be difficult to do from Apple Mail, unless it allows you to manipulate mail headers (specifically, specifying alternate Sender: and From: headers). You'll also probably run into problems with the relaying server (your outgoing mail server) complaining or outright rejecting the autoreply message because you've mucked with these.

However, if you are able to successfully overcome those obstacles, you need to do the following.
* Set up the filter in Apple Mail to route ex-boyfriend's email to the trash.
* Set up an autoreply to ex-boyfriend that reads as follows, replacing anything in all caps with the right data:
From: Mail Delivery System
Subject: Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender
with a body consisting of
This is the mail system at YOURDOMAIN.COM.

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients.

For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster.

If you do so, please include this problem report. You can
delete your own text from the attached returned message.

<YOU@YOURDOMAIN.COM>: User unknown in virtual alias table
(in the above, you'll need to configure Apple Mail to use that FROM address, and not YOUR from address, or this won't work. No clue if you can specify an alternate sender in an autoreply in apple mail).

Now, this email won't pass a competent examination, but the majority of users are not going to know how to read and interpret mail headers, so it just might work.

Caveat: There are numerous technical things that could go wrong with this attempt, that depend on the configuration of both sending and receiving mail servers.

Now, I can understand the desire to communicate to him that his email is not being read, but a simple autoresponse of "Hi, I'm the Apple Mail program running on YOURNAME's computer. I threw the email you sent into the trash unread and unseen by YOURNAME, because she created an automatic rule to make me do just that. Have a nice day!" might be a lot easier while getting the same point across.
posted by namewithoutwords at 1:14 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

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