Knockout spammers with Mac OS X Mail’s ‘Bounce To Sender’ command

Mac OS X Mail can help you deliver a staggering blow to spammers. Simply pull down the Mail menu, choose Junk Mail, and select Automatic. The next time you receive email, Mail will move suspect email into a Junk folder.

With that done, you’re ready to deliver a real knockout punch to spammers by taking advantage of yet another potent spam-fighting weapon:

1. Click on the Junk folder.
2. Type Command-a to select all of the Junk email messages.
3. Choose “Bounce to Sender” from Mail’s Message Menu.

Mail will return the selected messages to the senders marked ‘User unknown,’ making them think your email address invalid, encouraging them to drop you from their lists, and, thus, eliminating spam at its source.

(From Apple eNews, 6 Feb 2003)


  1. Rarely if ever will the bounce reach the spammer, because they use fake reply addresses. If it does, an astute spammer can easily tell the difference from a real bounce message generated by a mail server, so he will have confirmation that your address is valid. The only real use of the bounce feature is to discourage someone you know from emailing you.

  2. The only thing this is going to do is create a useless spike in e-mail traffic. Just delete spam messages without first opening them. Many spam messages contain a graphic image that, once viewed by the recipient, sends a “he’s here!” notice back to the spammer – confirming that yours is a valid e-mail address.

  3. Jeff: just turn off html. No downloading graphics. No message to the spammer. The VAST majority of html email is spam, so there is no reason to leave it all by default.
    BTW: I get one undeliverable message for every 5-7 messages that I bounce. It’s still to early to tell if I’m being dropped off of spam lists.

  4. Hey John,

    Despite what you might think, it doesn’t work for you. Spammers don’t use their real email address, only fake ones. You will be responding to a fake one and definately not the spammer. Stop wasting your time.

  5. It’s true that bounce to sender really doesn’t do anything for most unscrupulous spammers, but it does help with more ?legitimate? unwanted sales spam from real companies?

  6. Seems to me that if you really want to read your html-rich spam without encouraging more, you can download your email (assumes a standalone email client) then temporarily disconnect from whatever network you’re on and read / delete freely whilst offline. Presumably you will also miss the image files that would otherwise load.


  7. Bottom line folks:

    Bounce to sender ****doesn’t**** work with spammers. “Legitimate” spammers is an oxymoron. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” /> This is a useless option for dealing with ANY spam. If you think the company is ‘legitimate’, then use their unsubscribe method.

    Last time I’ll say this: Spammers don’t include their real email address in spam (think about it!) and your bounce will go to the fake address they used and not the spammer. Chances are very high that you will just get that bounce right back! Don’t waste your time.

  8. “A staggering blow”? I’m sorry, but this concept is broken beyond belief, as many have already explained. Perhaps you are merely trolling?

    How would *you* like to have a myriad junk mail nessages bounced at you because someone forges your address on the “From:” line of a bunch of junk mail?

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