Gmail Forwarding Does Not Filter Spam

By Matt Skaggs

Customizing Gmail can help you be more efficient in the workplace.
i Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Gmail is among the most popular webmail providers, with over 400 million users as of June 2012. One reason for Gmail's popularity is its versatile features, including forwarding options and spam detection. You may find that Gmail sometimes forwards emails that are actually spam, which could be inconvenient or embarrassing, especially if the message was sent from a business account. In just a few minutes you can adjust Gmail settings to prevent spam messages from being forwarded.

Gmail Forwarding Options

In Gmail you have two ways to set up automatic forwarding. You can either make Gmail forward all messages not detected as spam to a specific email address, or you can use "filters" to set up rules telling Gmail how to handle certain messages, including the option to forward messages. Both of these automatic forwarding options ignore spam emails, which means that if Gmail is forwarding spam, the service is incorrectly identifying these emails as valid.

Reporting Spam

When you report a spam message to Gmail, all future emails from that address are sent to your spam folder and are not forwarded. This helps improve Gmail's spam detection in general. You can do this by clicking the "Report Spam" button at the top of the email. Another option is to check the box beside the email in your inbox, and then click the "Report Spam" button above the email list. The latter approach removes the message without having to actually open it or view its contents.


You can set up filters to delete particular types of emails automatically that aren't caught by spam. A filter is an action that Gmail applies to messages that meet any criteria you specify. To set a filter, click the gear icon, then "Settings," then "Filters," then "Create a new filter." You can add certain conditions, such as terms Gmail should look for in the subject or the email body, and the address the message came from. When you're done, click "Create a filter with this search," and then check the box beside the "Delete it" option. All emails fitting the criteria you specified will be deleted. Note that you can use the asterisk wildcard for email addresses, which blocks ranges of addresses. For instance, if you make a filter that searches for "*," then every email from a sender with the "" address will be caught by the filter.

Spam Management

If you accidentally sent an email to the spam folder, change your Gmail setting for that email address by opening the email in your spam folder and clicking the "Not spam" option above the message. This option is also available if you click the check box beside the email when viewing spam messages in a list. You can permanently delete all emails in the spam folder by selecting it and clicking "Delete all spam messages now." If messages are repeatedly and incorrectly sent to the spam folder from a certain address, create a filter for that address or add it to your "Contacts."