If you’re like many people, you’ve probably had an important email wind up in your spam folder. It can be frustrating, and it could cause you to miss an email from a family member, a reminder from your doctor’s office, or even a job offer from a company you applied to. 

Luckily, there is a way to make sure those emails wind up in your inbox: whitelisting. If you whitelist an email address you’re expecting an important email from, it signals to your email program that you pre-approve emails from that contact.

Whitelisting is also important if you send a lot of emails, whether that be for yourself or your workplace, since you want to make sure your emails get through to the person you’re sending them to. The way to do that is to ask them to whitelist your email address. That way, your email won’t be the important one that winds up in the spam folder.

What Is Whitelisting?

When you whitelist an email it means you pre-approve the sender to send you emails. You are telling your email program that you know and trust that sender, so their emails should go to your inbox. This should prevent emails from that sender from ending up in your spam or junk folders.

How To Whitelist In Your Email Program

Knowing what whitelisting is and how important it can be doesn’t do any good if you don’t know how to put that into practical use in your email program. Most email programs have a way to whitelist, but each may be a little different. Below are the steps for several popular email programs. 

Apple Mail


There are two ways to accomplish this. The first is to mark the email as not junk, which should move that email to the inbox and prevent future emails from that sender from going to junk. 

  1. Find the email in the Junk folder and open it.
  2. Select the email.
  3. Swipe left to see options.
  4. You should see a More button, which you’ll tap.
  5. Now tap the Mark button.
  6. Tap on the Mark as Not Junk button to send the email to your inbox.

The second way to accomplish this is to add the sender to your contacts.

  1. Find the email in the Junk folder and open it.
  2. Tap the sender’s name to bring up a list with the name at the top and options to send a message, mail, etc.
  3. Tap on Create New Contact in the list. Depending on the version of iOS you have, it may say Add to Contacts instead. Either way, the method is the same.
  1. Confirm the contact details, then tap Done to finish up.

This should add the sender to your contact list, which will prevent their future emails from ending up in the junk folder.


On the Mac you can do the above in a similar manner. To mark an email not junk:

  1. Find the email in your Junk folder.
  2. Select the email.
  3. Click on Not Junk on the toolbar.

You can also add the sender to your contacts, like this:

  1. Locate the email in the Junk folder or Inbox and open it.
  2. On the menu select Message->Add to Contacts.
  3. Verify the contact information is all correct, then click Done.

This adds the sender to your contacts. Like in iOS, this should prevent any of their future emails from going to the junk folder. 

You can also prevent all emails from a sender from ever ending up in your junk folder in the first place. This can be handy if you haven’t gotten any emails from them yet and want to be sure they don’t ever go to junk. 

  1. On the menu in your mail app click on Message->Preferences.
  2. Click on the tab labelled Rules.
  3. Click Add A Rule.
  4. Give the new rule a name.
  5. Below the name is a drop-down menu that you need to set to any, leaving the full line saying “If any of the following conditions are met”
  6. Below that you should see two drop-down menus. Set the first one to From and the second to Contains.
  7. Enter the email address you want to whitelist into the box just right of the second drop-down. You can also enter just a partial email address. So if you know you’re getting an email from someone at example.com, but you aren’t sure who is sending it, you can just enter @example.com into the box.
  8. Below that is a section labeled Perform the following actions:, which will have two more drop-down menus below it. Set the first to Move Message and the second to Inbox.
  9. Click on OK.
  10. It should ask if you want to apply the rules to existing mail. If you want all previous emails from that sender also sent to your inbox then click Apply, otherwise click Don’t Apply

Outlook 20XX

Outlook has a safe sender list, which lets you specify that emails from that sender are safe, and there should be no blocking or moving to the junk email folder. This is a built-in whitelist, which is nice to have. Many others have ways you can do it, but some lack an actual list such as this. 

  1. From within Outlook, locate the email in the Junk folder and click on it.
  2. Click on the Home tab.
  3. At this point you should be able to click on Junk.
  1. Now click on Not Junk in the list that pops up.
  1. A screen will pop up to tell you that the message will be moved to the Inbox. It also has a check box you can select that says Always trust email from followed by the sender’s address. Make sure that box is checked.
  1. Click OK to finish up.


Like Outlook, Outlook.com has a safe sender list to specify that emails from that sender shouldn’t wind up in your junk email folder. 

Follow these instructions to add an address to your safe senders list:

  1. From the Outlook.com screen, click on the gear along the top. This will open your Settings menu.
  2. Now you’ll click on Mail on the screen that pops up.
  3. In the left panel of Outlook, select Mail.
  4. Click Accounts.
  5. Now click Block or Allow.
  6. A screen should appear with safe senders options. Enter the email address you would like to add, then click the + button.

  1. Select Safe to finish.

Yahoo! Mail

With Yahoo! Mail, one way to make sure an email doesn’t end up in the spam folder is to add the sender to your contacts. Once you receive an email, you do this by:

  1. Locate the email and open it.
  2. Hover over the sender’s name in the From field. This should display the contact card.
  3. Now click Add to contacts.
  4. Enter all the contact’s info. 
  5. Click Save to finish up.

If an email ends up in your spam folder and you do not want to add them to your contacts, but you still want to ensure future emails from that sender go to your inbox, do the following:

  1. Locate the email in your Spam folder and open it.
  2. Click on Not Spam.

If you want to make sure that all emails from a sender you haven’t received an email from yet end up in the inbox you could add a filter. To add a filter, do the following:

  1. In Yahoo! Mail, click on the gear in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on Filters.
  3. Click on Add.
  4. Now you can enter a Filter Name, which can be anything you like.
  5. Next enter the email address of a sender you expect emails from into the Sender field. You can also enter just the domain of the sender to make sure any emails from that entire organization go to your inbox. The drop-down on the left should say Contains and the text box just right of it should have the address or domain you wish to whitelist. 
  6. Make sure Inbox is selected as the folder to deliver the email to.
  7. Select Save, then click Save again to finish up.


In Gmail you have a couple of ways you can address the situation. If you have already received an email from the sender and it made its way to your spam folder, do the following:

  1. Open the email in your Spam folder.
  2. At the top of the email, directly below the search box, should be a label that says Not Spam. Click there. 

That should send that specific email to your inbox instead of the spam folder. It should also do this for all future emails from that sender.

Another option is to create a filter to make sure all emails from that address do not end up in the spam folder. 

  1. Open the email in your Spam folder. 
  2. There should be three vertical dots that should appear directly under the search box at the top. Click those, 

then click on Filter messages like these.

  1. On the screen that comes up, you should see the email address of the sender at the top, followed by several options. If you want to make sure no emails from that entire domain end up in spam, you can chop off the sender part of the email address and leave only the domain. You can also just leave that address to only filter emails from that specific sender. Click the Create Filter button at the bottom. 
  1. Now you are presented with a screen that has several options you can select from. Select Never send it to Spam.
  1. Now just click the Create Filter button to finish. 


On Android, most people probably end up with the Gmail app for email and the default contacts app that Android comes with. Others may have different apps, or similar apps under different names. It depends a lot on the manufacturer of your phone. These instructions most closely match the Gmail app and the default contacts app. If your phone does not use these two apps, these instructions may not match completely with the apps you use. Since many apps have similar methods to perform these actions, you still may be able to follow all or part of what you see here, though the images or wording you see on your screen may differ.

The best way to whitelist a sender on Android is to add them to your contacts. There are a couple of ways you can do this. If you’ve already received an email from the sender, do this:

  1. Locate the email from the sender you wish to whitelist and open it up.
  2. Click on the picture or icon of the sender.
  3. Click the Add to Contact icon (small figure with a + next to it) in the upper right corner of the contact screen that opens to add this sender to your contact list and ensure future emails from them wind up in your inbox.

You can also add someone to your contacts if they haven’t yet sent you an email. That way you will never risk missing an email from them. The way to accomplish this is:

  1. Locate and open your Contacts app on your Android device.
  2. Click Add (large + button), which is a large + sign near the bottom of your screen.
  1. Enter the name and email address of the person you expect an email from.
  2. Click Save to finish up.

Windows Live Desktop

With Windows Live Desktop, you can add someone to the safe senders list to whitelist them. The way to do that is:

  1. Open the message from the sender.
  2. A message should appear at the top of the email that says “Some images in this message are not shown.” Below that you should see the option to Add to safe sender’s list and an option to Show images. Click Add to safe sender’s list to add them to your safe sender’s list, which will whitelist their email address.

If you have not received an email from the sender yet, you can still add them to the safe sender’s list. Here is how you do this:

  1. Click on the File at the top of your screen and select Options.
  2. Select Safety Options, then click on Safe Senders.
  3. Now you can click the Add button. 
  4. Add the email address of the sender you wish to add to the safe sender’s list. You can also just enter the domain part of the email address if you want to allow all emails from that site.
  5. Next, click Apply.
  6. To finish up, click on OK.

AOL Mail

The best way to whitelist in AOL Mail is to add them to your contact list. You can do this the following way:

  1. Within AOL Mail, select Contacts in the left panel.
  2. Click the New Contact icon above your contacts list to add a new contact.
  3. Provide the information for the contact, making sure to enter the email address you expect emails from.
  4. Click Add Contact to finish up.

You can also wait until you receive an email from the sender, then add them to your contacts this way:

  1. Open the email you’ve received from the sender.
  2. Click the sender’s name, which should open a drop-down.
  3. Click Add Contact to finish up.


Protonmail has an easy-to-understand whitelist procedure. To add an email address to the allow list, just do the following:

  1. From within Protonmail, click on Settings at the top.
  2. Click on Filters in the left panel.
  1. At the bottom of the screen, you should see a section titled Allow List.
  2. Click on Add in that section.
  1. You should see a screen where you can enter the sender’s email address and choose whether to whitelist just that address or all addresses from that domain.
  1. Select Email or Domain, then enter the full email address or the domain in the box below.
  2. Click Save to finish.

As you can see, most email programs have a similar method to whitelist an email or domain. If you don’t see your email program in the list above, it’s probably similar to one of these. You may be able to figure it out by trying the steps for one of them. If not, your email program may have a help document that describes how to whitelist.