Mike Plant puts it to the test on his long-neglected email accounts
My early-morning routine involves putting the kettle on, then checking my emails. Much as I always chuck two sugars in my coffee without thinking, I sift out the previous day’s spam and junk mail on autopilot. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to skip this daily chore?
MailWasher Pro claims to let me do just that. It’s meant to filter unwanted emails – including the messages missed by the spam checkers in the likes of Gmail and Yahoo – before they gatecrash my inbox. Having four active email accounts, I was happy to learn it supports multiple email addresses. It also has a recycle bin that lets you recover any email that’s been purged by mistake. The free version limits you to just one account and lacks a bin.
At this point I have a confession to make. Two of my email accounts have been a little neglected of late. My Gmail and Yahoo accounts have around 30,000 unread emails between them, the vast majority of which are spam. I hoped this would make them the ideal testing ground for MailWasher, but my early enthusiasm soon turned to frustration.
Adding an account to MailWasher seemed fairly straightforward. Click the Settings tab, Accounts, then Add Email Account. Enter your account username and password when prompted and then… nothing – only an error message saying ‘Failed to connect to server’. I checked to see if I’d made any typing errors (I hadn’t) and that the POP3 settings were right (they were).
I was left searching the MailWasher support pages. My problem, it turned out, was that my Yahoo and Gmail accounts were protecting themselves from what they considered a ‘less secure app’. To get MailWasher Pro to ‘talk’ to these two accounts I disabled this extra level of security.
But that wasn’t the end of my problems. For some reason – and I still haven’t resolved this – MailWasher only downloaded 370 emails (all from 2008) from my Gmail account. It did find all my Yahoo emails, but took over five hours to get all 25,000 emails and crashed multiple times. This was not the hassle-free email solution I was looking for.
At last, a silver lining
Once my Yahoo emails had downloaded, MailWasher worked pretty well. A thumbs up, thumbs down system let me tell the program which emails were legitimate and which were spam (see screenshot above). A click of the Wash Mail button then removes all unwanted messages based on those preferences.
From that moment on, MailWasher runs in the background and removes any emails that are similar to those flagged as spam as soon as they arrive. The Pro version can also be used to read emails thanks to its expanded email pane. This is safer than reading them from within your email program, because your emails (and therefore any malware-infected attachments) are kept on MailWasher’s servers, not your PC.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
The Pro version lets you sync with the mobile app. Anything you do on the desktop PC version will be reproduced on your tablet and phone, keeping all your devices spam free.
SO, IS IT WORTH IT?
No. I simply can’t recommend an email program that gave me this many headaches when trying to sync with something as universal as Gmail. That said, MailWasher did help fight the spam in my Yahoo account. My advice is to try the free version (or Pro trial) and see how you get on.
Free trial period: 30 days
Turn on ‘Access for less secure apps’ to give MailWasher access to your Yahoo and Gmail accounts
Flag up wanted and unwanted emails, then click Wash Mail to remove all junk and spam.