Customize spam filter settings

If you have the legacy free edition of G Suite, upgrade to G Suite Basic to get this feature. 

This article is for G Suite administrators. If you're a Gmail user, learn how to mark or unmark spam in your Gmail account.

While Gmail filters automatically move spam into a spam folder, you can also customize spam filters to:

  • Be more aggressive for strict filtering of bulk email.
  • Bypass mail sent from within your domain.
  • Use approved sender lists.
  • Put spam in administrative quarantine.

Spam settings and filters apply to all users in an organizational unit. Users in child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

Working with spam filters

Customize a spam filter
  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenG Suiteand thenGmailand thenAdvanced settings.

    Tip: To see Advanced settings, scroll to the bottom of the Gmail page.

  3. (Optional) On the left, select an organization.
  4. Scroll to the Spam, phishing, and malware and at Spam, click Configure.

    If the setting is already configured, point to the setting and click Edit or Add Another.

  5. For a new setting, enter a unique name.
  6. (Optional) To configure more aggressive spam filtering, check the Be more aggressive when filtering spam box. This option is likely to cause more messages to be marked spam and sent to users' spam folders.

    If you add multiple spam settings, this setting can impact spam filter behavior.

  7. (Optional) To bypass spam filters for internal messages from users within the organization, check the Bypass spam filters for messages received from internal senders box.

    Authenticated messages from subdomains, including subdomains not hosted by Google, are treated as internal messages.

    If you add multiple spam settings, this setting can impact spam filter behavior.

  8. (Optional) To configure an approved sender list, check the Bypass spam filters for messages received from addresses or domains within these approved senders lists box.
  9. Click Use existing or create a new one.
  10. To create a new one, enter a new list name, and click Create.
  11. To use an existing list as your approved sender list, click the list name.
  12. Move your pointer over the list name, and click Edit.
  13. Click Add.
  14. Enter email addresses or domain names, using a space or a comma to separate multiple entries.

    Note: If you want to bypass this setting for approved senders that don't have authentication, uncheck the Require sender authentication box. This will bypass DMARC, SPF, and DKIM authentication. Learn more about sender authentication.

  15. Click Save.

    If you add multiple spam settings, this setting can impact spam filter behavior.

  16. (Optional) To send filtered messages to quarantine for review, check the Put spam in administrative quarantine box. Learn more about email quarantine.

    If you add multiple spam settings, this setting can impact spam filter behavior.

    • If you select this option, spam messages are never directed to users' spam folders.
    • If you're using the Message Center, spam messages aren't directed to the Message Center.
      Deprecation of the Message Center and Quarantine Summary started in October 2019. Learn more about managing spam messages.
    • Messages released from quarantine are marked as spam. When messages are released, they're checked against Gmail filters again when they arrive in the user's mailbox
  17. Click Save.
  18. At the bottom of the Gmail Advanced settings page, click Save.

It can take up to an hour for your changes to take effect. You can track prior changes with the Admin console audit log.

Using an approved sender list

You can create an approved sender list to bypass spam filters. You can base the list on email addresses or an entire domain. These settings only apply to incoming messages.

When you use an approved sender list, we recommend that you:

  • Reuse approved sender lists across different settings—For example, you can specify the same list in the Spam setting and the Restrict delivery setting to modify the behavior of both settings.
  • Match From addresses with your entries in the approved sender lists—In a message header, Gmail checks the addresses or domains against the From part of the header, not against the Return-Path in the header. For this reason, From must match an address or domain you entered in the list.
  • Add both domain and subdomains to the approved sender list—For example, abc.com and xyz.abc.com.

If you get spam or malware from an approved sender:

  • Approved sender sends spam—These messages are delivered to the recipient's inbox, not to the spam folder. There’s a banner stating the message wasn't sent to the spam folder because of the organization's mail settings.
  • Approved sender’’s message has a virus or is part of an email attack—Google's virus filters prevent it from reaching your users.
  • Block messages from an approved sender—Set up Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) policy.
How multiple spam filters affect filter behavior
When you turn on any of these options in a spam filter: How it impacts filter behavior:
  • Be more aggressive when filtering spam
  • Bypass spam filters for messages received from internal senders
  • Bypass spam filters for messages received from addresses or domains within these approved senders lists
  • Put spam in administrative quarantine
  • Any of these options is applied to the entire organizational unit where the spam filter is used.
  • Any of these options overrides any spam filter in the same organizational unit that has the same option turned off.

How it works example

You set up three spam filters for your Human Resources organizational unit:

  • Foo: This spam setting has the Be more aggressive when filtering spam turned on.
  • Bar: This spam setting has the Be more aggressive when filtering spam turned off.
  • External: This spam setting has the Be more aggressive when filtering spam turned off.

Results: The Be more aggressive when filtering spam option in Foo overrides the same option that is turned off in the Bar and External filters. Spam is filtered as if Be more aggressive when filtering spam was turned on for all three spam filters.

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