Junk mail folder

Updated: 02/07/2022 by Computer Hope
Junk mail folder in Thunderbird

The junk mail folder or spam folder is a place used to store unwanted incoming e-mail so that it stays out of a user's inbox. All major e-mail clients and webmail services include a junk folder to help filter and decrease the volume of unnecessary and advertisement-based e-mails.

How does it work?

When you receive a message, your e-mail service looks at the time it was sent, the sender's e-mail address, and the content of the message. If any of these aspects look suspicious, the client filters the e-mail to the spam folder accordingly. E-mail services allow users to decide what should or should not be sent to the junk mail folder by adjusting certain settings.

How to access the junk or spam mail folder

The destination of the junk mail folder varies slightly between each e-mail service and e-mail program, but they're all in a similar area.

Google Gmail

On the left side of the screen, under the Categories section, click the Selector that opens more folder options in Gmail. icon. You then see an expanded menu with the label Spam.

more selector in Gmail

Yahoo! Mail

As soon as you log in to your Yahoo! e-mail account, you see the selector that allows access to the Spam folder on the left side of the screen.

spam folder selector

Outlook.com mail

As soon as you log in to your Outlook.com e-mail account, you see the selector that allows access to the Junk Email folder on the left side of the screen.

Junk Email selector


If you cannot see the folder list, click down arrow in Outlook.com next to Folders to expand the menu.

iPhone and iPad

If you are using the default mail app on your iPhone or iPad, open the Mail app. Navigate to the Mailboxes view by backing out of the Inbox or any mail folders you are viewing.

In the Mailboxes view, you see the Junk folder below the Drafts and Sent folders.

Junk folder in Mail app on iPhone

Gmail smartphone app

When using the Gmail app for an iOS or Android smartphone, select the hamburger menu ☰ button in the top-left corner to view all accessible folders. Select Spam from the list of options.

Gmail app Spam folder

How long does mail stay in junk mail?

Junk e-mail stays in the junk folder until you are near your storage capacity, exceed a set limit, or the junk mail folder is emptied. Depending on how much e-mail you receive, junk mail can potentially remain in the folder for years. If you receive a lot of e-mail or many e-mails goes to the junk folder, it may only store junk mail for a month or two.

E-mail, E-mail terms, Internet terms, Junk mail