October 12, 2012 / IST / How-to Guides.

Some people have two Gmail accounts – one for personal emails and the other for work. Often, emails arriving in the “work” inbox are auto-forwarded to the personal Gmail account, so users avoid the hassle of having to check two separate accounts.

This would be a great idea, if it weren’t for a big problem – some important emails never get through.

“I had inadvertently created an email black hole. A place I would never check to see if there was any legitimate email,” saysColin Nederkoorn, the co-founder of New York-based Customer.io. Gmail marked a bunch of legitimate email messages in his work mailbox as spam, so they weren’t forwarded to his other mailbox – the one he was checking regularly.

This isn’t uncommon. While Gmail’s anti-spam algorithms are quite efficient at separating the junk from the good, they aren’t perfect so you could still miss some important emails if you aren’t paying attention to the spam folder.

But it can be a mammoth task to manually scan your spam folder for legitimate mails (especially when your email address isn’t very private on the Internet). What you really need are custom filters in Gmail that will spot and reduce these false-positives.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Disable the double-spam filter for auto-forwards

If you are auto-forwarding your mails from one Gmail account to another, you can completely disable the spam filter in the first account and let it route all mails (including the spam) to your other account where the message will be re-checked for spam. The following Gmail filter* will make that happen:

Criteria: to:me
Action: Never Send it to spam

[*] Google’s support site has an easy-to-follow tutorial to help you get started with filters. Put the criteria text (like to:me) into the Gmail search box and then choose “Create filter with this search” from the dropdown.

2. Create an Email Whitelist for Known Domains

Gmail is less likely to mark messages as spam if the email sender is in your Google Contacts list. However, since it is impossible to include every colleague’s or client’s email address in your contacts list, you should consider setting up a whitelist.  This will basically include a list of web domains you do business with – messages originating from them won’t get marked as spam in your Gmail.

Criteria: from:(myoffice.com OR mybank.com OR myclient.com)
Action: Never Send it to spam

In the above filter, we are instructing Gmail to skip the Spam check for any email that has myoffice.com in the sender’s address. You can include any number of email domains in the whitelist, but you need to separate them with ”OR” (in capital letters).

3. Scan the Spam Folder for Legitimate Emails

The Spam folder in your Gmail account could contain thousands of unread emails – it might take hours to manually scan the entire list. Here’s a little Gmail search filter that can make the task a bit easier.

in:spam to:me (“Hi John” OR “Hello John” OR “Dear John”)

Copy-paste the above string into your Gmail search box and replace the word “John” with your first name. The filter will find all messages in your spam folder that are directly addressed to you (not to a mailing list) and where the body of the message includes your name preceded by a greeting.

This works because email spammers rarely know your first name (they just have your email address), whereas messages written by humans will often include a greeting followed by your name. Run this filter at least once a week in Gmail – you can even bookmark the search results page for quick access.

From : http://blogs.wsj.com