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Bounce unwanted email back to sender Apps
Have you ever got unwanted mail from an ex-lover or a spam-provider?

The bundled Mail app has a nice feature hidden in the "Customize Toolbar" option. With the "reply as undeliverable" (or something like that, I use a german system -- it's "Bounce to Sender" on the English systems), you send a fake "The following addresses had permanent fatal errors" mail back to the sender. It looks like a real server-message and you have one problem less.

[Editor's note: This is also available in the menus, under Message -> Bounce to Sender.]
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Bounce unwanted email back to sender | 16 comments | Create New Account
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Bounce to sender
Authored by: el bid on Feb 22, '02 10:27:31AM

I feel cautious about using this. However you look at it, what you're actually doing is sending a forged email. Is this what you want to do? Does this improve the general welfare in any way?

Secondly, it's not a very good forgery. In my own case, at least, expanding the headers reveals a X-Envelope-From header that shows the bounce as coming from me, not from the supposed "postoffice.<your domain>".

Is it effective against spam? Does anyone know of a spammer who bothers to refine his email list by removing bounced addresses? Spam is better dealt with by reporting it to someone you trust in the delivery chain.

Yes, it might fool an old girlfriend you're trying to shake off, but c'mon...

el bid

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Bounce to sender
Authored by: Areh on Feb 22, '02 03:15:14PM

>Yes, it might fool an old girlfriend you're trying to shake off, but c'mon...<
Yeah, there should be a better way to communicate your feelings...

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not universally effective
Authored by: j-beda on Feb 22, '02 10:31:06AM
Of course this will only have an effect if the bounced emailer gets back to the spammer and that the spammer uses such bounces to clean up their list of addresses.

I do not think that the majority of spammers operate in this way. For the most part, spam is sent from throwaway accounts or sent with forged headers so that it apears to come from someone other than the spammer.

Thus, the bounces are more than likely just going to some innocent or non-existant address.

I try to report all spam to which analyses spam and reports to the appropriate people abuses of their systems.

Not as easy as a "bounce" button, but maybe a bit more useful. (Acutally, with Eudora I have a "spamcop" button that is pretty conventient.)

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spamcop button?
Authored by: confidentia1 on Feb 22, '02 10:44:35AM

I'd like to see this if I could. Is it an applescript or plugin, and where would I be able to find it? ^_~

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Bounce is ineffective
Authored by: fxwizard on Feb 22, '02 11:43:53PM

I have never had a successful bounce; every single one has come back to me as "not a valid sender address," so I don't bother trying anymore.

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Authored by: dennisbest on Feb 22, '02 11:53:35PM

I had an account that was getting hundreds of spams a week. It was a long-forgotten address that was listed on a site I designed. It was basically useless so I could experiment.

I bounced 700 messages the first time and have been checking back about once per week. Each week the number goes down. I now have it down to about 80 per week. I get a bunch of undeliverables.... but I also get standard replies too... which I also bounce.

I think this is a useful tool. I also think some spammers do try to get rid of bad addresses in some automated fashion. Even though the addresses they use appear to be dead...I also think they too have tricks to make you think that. I also suspect that bouncing unwanted mail to 'legitimate' spammers like "" or "" will save your address from being distributed later...when they sell their list. Not "if", "when". Nip it in the bud, I say.

One sure way of getting your address enshrined as valid is to use the "unsubscribe" link that comes in most (and works in some) spams... you are merely validating your address. Or maybe you trust them....If so, I have a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge I want to sell you.

If you didn't ask for the email you have every right to fight back in a technological sense. Spam is a sleazy and unethical practice...

If I can write 'return to sender' on snail mail... I have a right to do this. IT IS NOT FORGERY for crying out loud. Give me a break. It is not unethical or dishonest to bounce a message. You are saying that your address is not a valid recipient for their junk. That is honest. Even though they put my name it, I must assume they meant it for someone who cared. They have the wrong person.

I used to forward my junk to spamcop and frankly that doesn't get you anywhere in practical terms of ridding yourself of spam. It may help the greater good in the long run, but that is debatable.

Bounce away. It's free. It's fair.

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Authored by: teomalchio on Feb 23, '02 04:07:18AM

none i my ex-lover ever writes to me!!!!

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Authored by: el bid on Feb 23, '02 07:35:04AM
If I can write 'return to sender' on snail mail... I have a right to do this. IT IS NOT FORGERY for crying out loud. Give me a break. It is not unethical or dishonest to bounce a message. You are saying that your address is not a valid recipient for their junk. That is honest. Even though they put my name it, I must assume they meant it for someone who cared. They have the wrong person.

On reflection, you're right. This isn't a forgery, because as far as I can make out nothing is faked in the headers. (Actually this is what makes it ineffective if you bounce in the direction of anyone with a clue).

What it is though is a downright lie. You're not just saying "Return to Sender" as in the snailmail case you mention. You're explicitly saying that the address is an unknown or illegal alias. Neither of these statements is true. You're also saying that the action of delivering the mail failed, which again isn't true.

So it comes down to the simple question: do you want to make a habit of sending out emails that don't tell the truth? If you don't mind using email this way yourself, I'm puzzled why you should object to people telling you that if you send them $9.95 they will turn it into a steady income of $2,000 a week, confer on you a degree from a leading university and lengthen your penis.

el bid

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I agree with DennisBest
Authored by: beastie on Feb 23, '02 07:30:56PM

ok, this is indeed not 100% or even 50% effective tool, but so is Noone guarantees you that you won't recieve spam anymore from the source you have reported about via Spamcop.

This tool gives me ability, gives me a chance to stop occasional spammer. And that's _good_ thing. That "Bounce to sender" thing was one of the reasons why I switched from Magellan to

C'mon people, leave that heavy moralism and hard ethics for philosophy professors. If someone sends me spam then my mailbox does indeed not exist for them. Period.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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You agree with DennisBest?
Authored by: el bid on Feb 24, '02 04:37:01AM
C'mon people, leave that heavy moralism and hard ethics for philosophy professors.

That's not Bill Gates behind that alias, is it, beastie? Pre-Enron that flag might have rallied a few duh-brains. These days pretty well everybody is beginning to understand that "truth in business" is crucial to our future.

el bid

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Authored by: Ranger on Mar 08, '12 06:42:32PM
Fellow enthusiasts, I have an iPhone4 and a MacBook Pro, both devices have the most recent commercial OS from MAC. I have a fully functional iCloud account with 50G. I find that Apple iCloud and do not filter spam very well, if at all. So, I purchased a account. I now have set my mail to be forwarded to for filtering. I thought I would then set my iPhone to only see filtered e-mail and ignore my iCloud account. So here is the issue... Some spam is not caught by Spamcop and I must report it, however I have been unable to find a way to forward an e-mail as an attachment from the iPhone Does anon have a hint since there is no documentation for the iPhone or MAC OSX on spam cops website.
Time is relative, relatives take time. Mark Mettler 1994

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Authored by: JayBee on Feb 23, '02 11:00:59AM
My old T'ai-chi instructor used to say "If it's 99% right, it's 100% wrong"

Never mind all the minor ethical problems here (we could argue all night what "legal address" and "undeliverable" means). If you have someone savvy enough to spot this fake (and that probably means most of the people who would bother to weed their lists regularly), then bouncing like this is going to be just as bad as replying to a removal address.

You'd be as well yelling "Nobody in here but us chickens!" ; )

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Authored by: chyna4xena on Nov 26, '06 08:38:31PM

I doubt very much that a bounce would signal to a spammer that the address is valid. Spammers send out millions of e-mails at a time, and a large proportion, if not most, of the addresses on their lists will be (genuinely) invalid.

A lot of those genuinely invalid addresses will generate a bounce back to the spammer (or their faked reply address), so how exactly is the spammer supposed to tell which bounces come from people hitting the bounce button, and which bounces come from the servers rejecting an invalid address?

They can't.

However, most spammers don't care about bounces, they rarely get them (due to faked reply addresses), they don't do anything with them, and they don't remove the address from their list. They already send out a tonne of spam knowing that some or most will go to nowhere (invalid addresses), so why would they care about trimming down that list slightly?

I keep the bounce option solely for human senders, it sometimes gets them to stop mailing.

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my account is invalid?
Authored by: giaguara on Feb 09, '03 01:36:57PM

as a test i tried to send a message for myself, and then bounce it..

as a result, my email is not valid? or so says the bounce thing. nice.

do i interpret that on the way that i spam (myself) ?

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Bounce unwanted email back to sender
Authored by: hainesta on Nov 26, '06 05:18:42AM

It seems to me that this bounce feature is a manual, one-time thing. I actually have an ex-girlfriend who won't stop sending e-mails even though I bounce them back. Does anyone know of a way to block her address? Or, automatically bounce any messages from her back?

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Oh, for heaven's sake! No!
Authored by: Krioni on Nov 27, '06 11:36:03AM
Do not do this! You're only making the problem worse! Look, spammers often FORGE the From address. So, some poor guy who is getting lots of spam just like you now has to read a "bounce" message from you in response to an email he DID NOT SEND.

I get a lot of "bounces" in response to emails I did not send from stupid spam-filtering server software. Let's not manually add to that.

Read more:

Fake bouncing is almost as evil as the spam itself, since you're hurting another innocent person! Got it?


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