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Why and How You Whitelist Email Addresses

How and Why You Whitelist Email Addresses -- it's your responsibility!

In an understandable attempt to bypass all that annoying spam, emails that you want to receive may be lost in the shuffle. Newsletter subscription requests are not confirmed. Password reset and important notification emails (domain renewals, for example) are not acknowledged by the intended parties.

In some cases, these emails are blocked at the server level. Others end up in the junk/spam/trash folders to be deleted and not read.

What is an email whitelist?

You may have been on a website where they ask that you add a specific email address to your whitelist after submitting a request. This is to ensure that you know what address their response will come from so you can add it to your address book or contact list.

With all the spam making its way into our inboxes, ISPs and software companies target spam. There are criteria, formats, and red flags that they use that are indicative of junk mail.

These criteria can cause automatic blocking of IPs and addresses commonly used by spammers. These are called blacklists. Blacklists exist to block emails within the network.

The red flags can cause emails with spammy criteria to be sent to your spam folder. That’s not to say there are times that emails are misidentified for no apparent reason to you. It does happen. That’s why you always want to review your spam/junk folders before clearing them out.

Whitelisting, Allowed and Approved Senders

Is there a difference? Not really. You may even see “safe senders” (iPhone). Other software/services call this list the “approved senders list” or “allowed senders” list.

So your “whitelist” is the list of email contacts you want to receive email from. In many cases, your whitelist is in the background, and addresses get added automatically to your whitelist when you add new contacts to your address book.

By adding addresses to your whitelist, you are clearing the way for those addresses and emails to hopefully not get misidentified as spam. Hopefully?

If those who are emailing you are doing spammy things, they risk being identified as junk. So it’s not a perfect system.

Proactive Whitelisting

If you do not take this proactive action, you risk not receiving the response you are seeking based on your request. This includes not receiving order and shipping confirmations from e-commerce websites too.

When you sign up for a mailing list, place an order or contact a website, stop right then and there and add their email address to your whitelist. Most websites will have a note on the submission or thank you page noting what address to add to your whitelist. When you see a message like that, follow the instructions.

How to Setup Your Whitelist

Here are the basics for the most used services. In most cases, you can right-click on the email address to see options to add to your address book or designate as not spam.

You can also search your provider or software’s Help section for “whitelist.”

  • AOL Mail: Select the sender’s From name, then select “Add Contact” from the drop-down menu.
  • Android Devices: Open the email message and touch the picture of the sender before the message. Tap “Add to Contacts.”
  • Yahoo!: You should see a plus (+) symbol displayed next to From: and the sender’s name. Once you select that, an “Add to contacts” pop-up should appear. Select “Save.” Also, check your “bulk” folder. Click on the link next to the From field. Or high-lite it and click “Not Spam.”
  • Gmail: Your Promotions folder is where spam will land. Drag it over to your Primary tab, and you’ll see, “This conversation has been moved to Primary. Do this for all future messages from em***@ad*****.com?” Select “Yes.”
  • Outlook: 20XX If you see “Click here to download pictures…” click and select “Add Sender to Safe Senders List.” For Outlook.com, if you open an email and see an alert message with, “Parts of this message have been blocked for your safety.” Click the link with, “I trust em***@ad*****.com. Always show content.”
  • Apple Mail and iOS: Click on the address, then “Add to Contacts” or “Add to VIPs.”
  • Other Platforms: Add the email address to your address book or contacts.

When You Initiate the Request

This is where Email Whitelist Etiquette comes in. If you initiate the request, it is your responsibility to promptly add the other side’s email address to your whitelist.

Before getting upset because you did not receive a response, check if the email was inadvertently deleted. Or sent to your Trash, Spam, or Junk folders. You will be surprised at the legitimate emails that land in these folders by mistake.

Did you discover emails in your spam or junk folders that shouldn’t be there? Stop and add their information to your whitelist/approved senders straight away.

All you can do is control what is in your control to control. That includes your whitelist.

Make sure you create a response or thank you page that requests site visitors and subscribers to add the required email address to their whitelist. If onliners know the address to expect an email from, the chances are greater that they will add that address to their address book/whitelist for your email to get through.

By learning how to whitelist and getting in the habit of doing so with each new request or contact, the emails you want will have a better chance of landing in our inbox.

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