the disappearing e-mail

I created a new account on a web site and used my Gmail address (actually I used an alias that forwarded to my Gmail account) but I never received the e-mail. I logged in to my old Yahoo Mail account and sent myself a test e-mail, but that worked fine, proving that the alias was working.

I double-checked the e-mail address for the new account to verify that it was the same as the one I had tested. They were identical.

I logged in to my mail server to look at the logs and saw that the e-mail was being received and sent correctly. I wondered if my mail server was somehow messed up, but that didn’t make much sense and it was clearly forwarding the outgoing e-mail to Google’s mail servers.

I thought the e-mail might have gotten queued up in their servers, but my test e-mail showed up seconds after I sent it. It just didn’t make any sense the more I thought about it.

I just couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting the e-mail.

Then I figured it out.

Gmail had considered the e-mail Spam and filtered it out of my Inbox, and since there’s no indication that there are any e-mails in the Spam folder, I had no idea it was there.

The executive summary: If you are expecting an e-mail to arrive in your Gmail account and it never arrives, check the Spam folder before you do anything else. It could save you a lot of time.


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  1. Ahh yea. I too wondered why Gmail never says how many new spam mail you have…

    Kinda makes me mad too since a lot my important mail tends to be “spam”… :P

    Comment by fanteja2000 on August 1, 2004 @ 8:19 pm
  2. i was under the impression that you can control spam by appropriate setting in ‘security / bulk mail customisation ‘

    Comment by sv on August 2, 2004 @ 4:17 am
  3. I don’t see any security or bulk e-mail customization on the Gmail settings page.

    Comment by dan on August 2, 2004 @ 7:17 am
  4. It would be helpful if a number (indicating the number of messages it contains) showed up next to each mailbox, i.e.: Inbox (36) or Spam (5). I had never even though of looking in the “Spam box” until I read this email. I went back and found 5 emails, some of which could have been deemed important. Thanks for pointing this out. I wonder if they have a team that would receive suggestions.

    Comment by danithew on August 2, 2004 @ 8:03 am
  5. Yes, danithew, they do recieve and respond to suggestions. I made one the day I got my gmail account, and I got a reply shortly afterwards. Whether they’ll actually implement it or not is another question. :)

    Comment by Levi on August 2, 2004 @ 8:57 am
  6. I don’t think I’d want a number in there, as mine builds up to more than 1000 in just a few days. I have also found legit e-mails in my Gmail spam box, but I clear it out around once a week and I make sure to scan for any “real” messages that were put in there before I delete messages forever.

    Comment by Meredith on August 2, 2004 @ 3:24 pm

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