C-Command Software Forum

Message Colors

“The most spammy messages are colored Blue. Less spammy messages are colored Gray, Purple, Red, Orange, or Yellow…”

I’m finding these colors (in Mail) are not as helpful to me as they might be. Except for blue (why blue?) there’s nothing here that helps me distinguish at a glance how spammy a message is, unless I remember this order.

What would be helpful is a single color to indicate that a message is spam, with the saturation of that color indicating how spammy it is. Since Mail allows you to use “other” colors, is it possible that SpamSieve might use this suggestion in the future?

Sorry, the choices of the colors and their order are limited by Mail. Perhaps it would help if you told Mail to sort by color. Personally, I find the order relatively easy to remember by visualizing the (http://www.colormatters.com/colortheory.html).

While the color wheel is certainly interesting to gaze at, I have to agree that the default colors seem completely arbitrary. Red and Yellow have a long history of being bad colors on computers (think the yellow triangle with the exclamation mark or red x’s, warnings, and error messages).

I’ve also noted that by selecting color in Apple’s Mail, then “more…” you can pick any of the fine gradations of color that your monitor is capable of displaying.

Allowing users to adjust the colors in SpamSieve preferences would be a good option, but I think better yet would be a system with just three main colors with a nice gradation between them. Red would be bad and most spammy, yellow would be pretty bad, and maybe gray would be “probably bad but you may want to check it”.

Having all of the colors in a light pastel range will help the readability of the list.


Yes, but that doesn’t mean this functionality is available to SpamSieve or that Mail would sort the colors in the order that you want.

Thanks Michael. I don’t write code for desktop apps so I can’t say one way or the other if SpamSieve can access that color pallette but my guess would be that it can as Apple seems pretty keen on people using their platform to the fullest. I see apps all the time using core image, the address book server, clipboard server, etc.

I hear what you’re saying about the ordering and I tend to agree that ordering chronologically makes more sense than by color, but I still stand by the assertion that your “average user” (myself included) can’t (or maybe stubborly doesn’t want to) make the mental leap to an unfamiliar color pallette to get the most out of their spam sorting.

Intuitive is the word and I think the bigger of the two issues is that the use of these particular colors aren’t reinforced anywhere else in OS X or Windows or the web.


Of course SpamSieve can use the system color palette to let you pick a color. But that’s not what you’re asking for. You’re asking for SpamSieve to tell Mail, as it’s filtering messages, to assign custom colors to messages, and for Mail to then remember those colors. As to Apple, you would be surprised at how much they don’t make accessible to third-party developers. There are lots of features that you see across many apps, and which you might assume are part of the frameworks, but which each developer has had to reverse-engineer or write from scratch.

The interface that SpamSieve is currently using to set message colors is supported by Apple, but it only supports Mail’s built-in list of colors. I’m not happy with this or with the color choices, but that’s how it is.

Some versions of Mail do seem to have an internal means of assigning a wider range of colors to messages, and it’s possible that I will be able to reverse-engineer a way to use this. (It’s also possible that the mechanism is there but that Mail is designed in such a way that it can’t be reliably used from plug-ins such as SpamSieve’s. After all, Mail was not designed to be expandable, so plug-ins must tread lightly so as not to mess anything up.)

If SpamSieve ever does support using finer gradations of color, my preference would be to use gray or brown, as you want to ignore the spam messages. Brighter, attention-drawing colors should be reserved for the messages that you find important.

Sounds like we pretty much all agree that we’d like to see some change to the marked-as-spam color palette as time, technology and inspiration allow. I could certainly live with grays and browns as well, to riff on Apple’s theme of the brown paper bag for junk and gray being closer to white or non-spam messages.

For the time being I just have to concentrate a bit more when scanning the spam list.

Do love the app as it has made email usable again after this recent wave of spam/junk/forgery/bot madness.

message color suggestion
I use mail’s ability to label messages to indicate email from certain people etc.
I’d rather just have spamsieve use one color for all spam messages. It seems to work pretty much perfectly and I don’t really care where something falls in the spam continuum if it really is spam. When I quickly check my spam folder I find the different colored labels distracting.

Thanks for a great program.

If you prefer SpamSieve not to color your spam, you can turn that feature off using the Change Settings command.

User changeable colors
I agree…the color scheme is confusing to me. I’d prefer the most spammiest to be red. I want to know which pieces of mail are the worst offenders and the brighter colors draw your eye to them. Blue does not accomplish that.

I don’t understand programming, and was lost in your description above, so I don’t know if this is possible or not.

I don’t understand. Why do you want to be drawn to the worst offenders? To me, those are those ones you should spend the least time looking at.

The answer is VERY simple. I send all my spam into one folder. Several times a day I go in to delete the spam. But, I have to check it to make sure there isn’t something that ISN’T spam that I have to save…and there often is.

It’s important for me to be able to look at the worst offenders and say, there’s probably not anything in there I need. So I can skip over all the “worst offenders” and just look at the least likely offenders to check for good emails.

I suppose I could do the opposite and look at the least likely offenders with a brighter color but as another poster said, RED is almost always associated with “bad.” Blue is my favorite color, and is for a lot of people, so I don’t associate blue with anything bad.

It would just make sense to offer people the ability to choose the colors that mean the most to them, not just to you.

It’s not normal for there to be good messages in the Spam mailbox. Please send in a report.

My experience, and that of most of the customers I’ve talked to, is that it works better to scan the Spam mailbox for the rare good message that doesn’t belong there than to go through it looking for definite spam messages to delete. So this is the workflow that the colors were chosen to support. It’s very easy to spot a yellow or red good message in a sea of blue and gray.

As I tried to explain above, given the way Mail works, choosing the colors is not a viable option if you want to be able to sort by spamminess. I could perhaps add an option to reverse the current meanings of the colors, although I worry that that would be confusing. What would you prefer?

Regardless of whether SS catches good emails or not, i would never trust it alone to decide if an email is good or not. I can’t afford to miss an important email…so I will always check. So sending you a report is not going to help.

Yes, I look for the good messages, but it’s easier to spot them if I can eliminate looking at the bad ones. If the bad ones are red, it’s easy to see them and I just skim over them. If they’re blue, it’s not as easy.

It might be easy for YOU to spot a red message as being good, but to me red means bad. All my files on my Mac are sorted that way. Unimportant files are red, files to delete are red. Your color scheming is in direct conflict with that. I have to re-think every time I use SS because of this.

I don’t understand what the colors that mail has to offer has to do with what you chose the colors to mean. I also use MailTags and I can assign any of the color choices I want to a message in Mail using that program. You must have chosen which color means what when you wrote the program, no?

You are seeing abnormally poor filtering accuracy. That’s either due to something you did or something that I should try to improve in SpamSieve. Either way, sending a report would be helpful.

Are you saying that you want the order of the colors to be reversed? Or that you want to choose a specific color for each spam level?

Many people like to sort the Spam mailbox by “spamminess.” If the spam scores are 50, 60, 70, 80, you would expect for them to sort in that order (or the reverse). I chose the meanings of the colors so match the way Mail sorts. It would be confusing to have it sort 70, 50, 60, 80.