Updating SpamSieve and Mail Settings for macOS 14 Sonoma

See also: Quick Start to Keep SpamSieve Working With Apple Mail When Updating to macOS 14 Sonoma.

On Tuesday (9/26), Apple will release macOS 14 Sonoma. This includes a big change in Apple Mail. Apple is removing support for Mail plug-ins, which were there from the beginning with Mac OS X 10.0 and have been used by SpamSieve for almost 20 years. Last week, we released SpamSieve 3, which includes a Mail extension that works with the new version of Apple Mail in Sonoma. While there are some changes to be aware of, this new architecture makes it much easier to set up SpamSieve and ensures that it will keep working smoothly with future versions of macOS. Here’s what you can expect from this transition and the steps you can take to ensure that your spam filtering continues uninterrupted:

  1. Update to SpamSieve 3. It’s best if you do this first, because the new version is better at helping you adjust the settings in Mail for Sonoma. This is a paid upgrade. It’s easiest if you install the new version of the app, let it import your SpamSieve 2 data, and then click the Check Upgrade Options button when prompted. That way you can get the upgrade discount without having to look up and enter your SpamSieve 2 serial number. However, it’s also possible to purchase the upgrade manually, and you can try it free for 30 days. We also recommend the SpamSieve 3 upgrade for customers who do not plan to update to Sonoma, as it includes many other enhancements. However, SpamSieve 2 will continue to work pre-Sonoma (or using mail clients other than Apple Mail on Sonoma). You can still download it, and if necessary you can downgrade from version 3 to version 2 just by replacing the app file.

  2. You can continue using the Mail plug-in setup with SpamSieve 3 on macOS Ventura (in which case the Mail integration will work much the same as before) or switch to the Mail extension setup (in preparation for Sonoma). If you choose to do this, click the Uninstall Plug-In button in Settings ‣ Apple Mail ‣ Setup.

  3. Update to macOS 14 Sonoma. Apple will make the update available in System Settings ‣ General ‣ Software Update on September 26. For most users, there is no need to update to Sonoma right away. However, if you want to do it on your own schedule, you should configure your Mac’s settings before September 26. Click the (i) button next to Automatic updates and turn off Automatically: Install macOS updates. That way you can click Update Now at the time of your choosing, instead of having Apple surprise you with an automatic update.

  1. The first time you launch SpamSieve on Sonoma, if you’re still using the Mail plug-in setup it will remind you to switch to the Mail extension setup. Mail will no longer load the SpamSieve plug-in, so the SpamSieve training commands will no longer appear in the Message menu in Mail. Instead, the training commands will be in the SpamSieve menu bar icon and in the SpamSieve Dock icon (if you click and hold).

  1. SpamSieve will detect that the plug-in is not loaded and automatically deactivate any SpamSieve rules that you had in Mail, so that they don’t move messages to Junk without consulting SpamSieve. Still, you will probably want to delete the rules to avoid confusion. You can either do this manually or click the Uninstall Plug-In button in Settings ‣ Apple Mail ‣ Setup. (Exception: If you are using multiple Macs and still want to use the SpamSieve plug-in on another Mac with a previous version of macOS, leave the rule inactive instead of deleting it. Otherwise, if you deleted it on the Sonoma Mac, iCloud would sync the deletion to the other Mac.) This only applies to the Mail rules whose names begin with SpamSieve, i.e. the ones that interacted with the SpamSieve plug-in. If you had set up other rules related to SpamSieve, such as Rescue Good Messages SpamSieve or Remote Training, those will continue working and you can leave them as-is.

  1. Now you’ll want to complete the Mail extension setup, if you haven’t already done so. You can skip the initial training in Step 6 of those instructions because SpamSieve retains the same training data from the previous setup.

What’s Different With the Mail Extension

Spam Messages Go to the Junk Mailbox

With the Mail plug-in, you could choose where the incoming spam messages were moved. Initially, we recommended using a mailbox called Spam under On My Mac. More recently, we started recommending the special All Junk mailbox (which means the special Junk mailbox associated with the account that received the message). With Mail extensions, this is not configurable. It will always use the per-account Junk mailbox, rather than Spam or a custom mailbox name. There is a new option in SpamSieve 3 to move the more spammy messages directly to the Trash. And there are still settings to control where messages move when you train them.

Message Background Colors

As before, messages are colored in the Junk mailbox according to how they were processed. Messages caught by a server junk filter and moved out of the inbox before they got to your Mac will have a white background and brown text:

Messages caught by SpamSieve will have a colored background according to how spammy they are:

Previously, SpamSieve would change the text color of such messages to black, to make it easier to read. With the Mail extension, this is no longer possible, so they will appear with brown text on the colored background.

Selecting Other Mailboxes to Filter

Mail only sends new messages to the extension if they remain in the inbox after processing your Mail rules. With the Mail plug-in, this was not a concern because the SpamSieve rule was at the top of the list, so it was applied first. Now, if you have Mail rules that file your messages into other mailboxes, those messages will not be checked by the extension for spam. Therefore, SpamSieve 3 adds a new Filter spam messages in other mailboxes feature that can filter such messages after they’ve been moved out of the inbox. This works both with rules in Mail and with rules that operate on the mail server before the messages get to Mail. You can click the Select Mailboxes to Filter… button to opt-in certain mailboxes for spam filtering. (You may want to exclude some mailboxes, e.g. to avoid the overhead of scanning lots of old, read messages that don’t need filtering, anyway. If a filtered mailbox includes lots of old messages, you can archive them to an unfiltered mailbox to speed up SpamSieve’s scanning.)

A Green Flag Means SpamSieve Thinks the Message Is Good

In summary, the Mail extension filters new messages in the inbox (immediately after Mail downloads them) and Filter spam messages in other mailboxes handles new messages in other mailboxes (shortly after Mail downloads them). You can choose how frequently SpamSieve scans the other mailboxes. If you receive lots of new messages and spend a lot of time in Mail, you may see a new message that’s filed outside of the inbox before SpamSieve sees it. If the message is spam, it may not be clear whether you are seeing it there because SpamSieve made a mistake and thought it was good or simply because SpamSieve hadn’t had a chance to examine it yet. The new Add green flag to unread good messages option lets you choose to have SpamSieve mark messages that it has checked with a green flag. Messages with no flag are pending processing; they are not mistakes and do not need to be trained as spam. After you read a message, SpamSieve automatically removes the green flag.

If the Inbox Doesn’t Filter

In rare cases, a macOS bug can prevent Mail from sending new inbox messages to the extension, so that spam messages collect in the inbox without SpamSieve having looked at them. SpamSieve 3.0.1 adds the Check inboxes for new messages not sent to Mail extension feature to work around this bug.

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Hello. I came here today because the amount of spam in my inbox has skyrocketed.

It’s September 27th, so I’m stuck in point 3 here and don’t quite know how to proceed.

I’m running Ventura 13.5.2. Didn’t know about the SpamSieve upgrade until five minutes ago.

Please help me figure out what to do first/next.

Did you upgrade to SpamSieve 3? Did you change any settings? If you’re running Ventura, it’s fine to stay with SpamSieve to or to upgrade to SpamSieve 3 and continue using the Mail plug-in setup as before. Then the filtering will continue working as before. If you did change to the extension setup, you can make sure that it’s set up properly and possibly enable inbox filtering if you’re affected by the Mail bug that in some cases can prevent Mail from sending SpamSieve the inbox messages automatically.

What is your question about Step 3? Are you having trouble disabling automatic updates?

After OS and Spam Sieve config, only get train as goo or bad from dock NOT in Mail app from Messages. The Central / Option / L combo flashes by and leave no trae of where the spam was sent.
Any ideas?

Yes, this was mentioned in #4 above. With macOS Sonoma, it is no longer possible to add commands to the Message menu in Mail, so they are now in the SpamSieve menu bar icon and in the Dock menu.

When using the Mail extension, the SpamSieve rule in Mail’s settings should be automatically disabled, and you can delete it. Do not re-enable this rule because it will move every message to Junk/Spam without consulting SpamSieve. The Command-Option-L shortcut also does Apply Rules for any other Mail rules that you may have set up.

6 posts were split to a new topic: Spam messages not filtered out of inbox on macOS 14

Hi Michael,

I was confused in step 3 because it said :

However, if you want to do it on your own schedule, you should configure your Mac’s settings before September 26.

As I didn’t see that until the 27th, I was wondering what I should do first.

Here’s my situation/understanding now:

I’ve upgraded to V3. Paid for it.

It’s working, I think. I’m still in Ventura.

Since I am going to upgrade to Sonoma, I’m now reading step 2.

You can continue using the Mail plug-in setup 10 with SpamSieve 3 on macOS Ventura (in which case the Mail integration will work much the same as before) or switch to the Mail extension setup 141 (in preparation for Sonoma). If you choose to do this, click the Uninstall Plug-In button in Settings ‣ Apple Mail ‣ Setup

Do I uninstall the plug-in first, by unchecking this box:


And then I follow the steps here?

Please confirm I’m on the right track, or correct me.


It’s still better to update SpamSieve before updating macOS.

No, you can just use the Uninstall Plug-In button in SpamSieve’s Settings window.

I’m a little confused, since I came at this from a different direction before I realized how different 3.0 is from previous versions.

I was using an M1 Mac Mini that I had just set up about 8 months ago. I had Mail and Spamsieve working on there. Then it came time to move that Mac Mini to my workshop for work. I got an M2 Mac Mini and setup Mail. I couldn’t use Migration Assistant (long story) and it was a struggle to get Mail set up, but I got all my mail servers and my folders and mailboxes setup. Then I downloaded and installed the latest Spamsieve and copied ~/Library/Application Support/Spamsieve from the older M1 to my M2. (That’s what worked for updating most programs - install it and copy over the Application Support directory.)

It was after that I realized I had downloaded 3.0, which was different than 2.0. So I have 3.0 installed, I have it setup as an extension in Mail (in settings in Mail and Spamsieve) but it’s not filtering.

Did I create a mess by copying over the Application Support directory? I don’t want to have to re-train Spamsieve, if at all possible. I’m not clear where to go from here. Seems like there would be a nuclear option: Uninstall Spamsieve on the new system, install an older version (if I have it around), make sure that’s working, then upgrade to 3.0, so I can easily import the 2.x settings that are there anyway.

I’m hoping I don’t have to go that far. So how do I proceed from here?

That’s perfectly fine to do. SpamSieve 3 should import all the old data at first launch. The Log window will tell you what it imported, and you can also see it in the Statistics window.

Sounds like a setup issue. Please see Why is SpamSieve not catching my spam?.

I thought I had it working. I can pick “Filter” from the menu bar drop-down and all I select are filtered, but it’s still not filtering them as they come in. I’m looking over everything and double-checking that I’ve done it all correctly, but this is where my reading disability kicks in. I can miss small details and it can take me a long time to find them.

You might be running into the macOS bug mentioned here, in which case the workaround is to enable the Filter spam messages in other mailboxes option and add the inboxes to the Select Mailboxes to Filter… sheet. Then SpamSieve will check the inboxes itself, to filter them without relying on the Mail extension.

Just a note to report that the upgrade went great for me. The strategy here, where the upgrade works fine with Ventura, was really helpful. First, in Ventura, I basically uninstalled SpamSieve from Apple Mail, making sure there was no trace of the plug-in or any rules related to SpamSieve. Then I downloaded SpamSieve 3 and, following the instructions, got it running with Apple Mail using the extension instead of the plug-in (and no rules). I checked over my various account settings, where no change was needed. Then I waited a couple of days so that some spam arrived, and I confirmed that SpameSieve 3 handled the spam. Then I paid for the upgrade and installed Sonoma. Very nice transition! Thanks for the work that went into implementing and documenting all this.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Empty Mailbox List in “Filter spam messages in other mailboxes”

3 posts were split to a new topic: No spam filtered after upgrade

A post was merged into an existing topic: SpamSieve icon in the menu bar keeps disappearing

Since this seems to be a generic “Sonoma upgrade” thread, I ran into an odd issue.

I set up a new Mac on Ventura within the past month or so (I posted about that upthread). I used the extension instead of the plugin so I wouldn’t have to deal with any issues when I upgraded to Sonoma.

That didn’t work as well as I thought. I upgraded to Sonoma and got a message to be sure to set up Spamsieve as an extension. I checked settings and, yes, it’s an extension. SpamSieve settings seem to be correct, too. It is filtering spam from my email, so that’s working, but the “Train as Spam” and “Train as good” items are no longer in Message menu. I right clicked on some emails to see if they showed up there and they don’t.

So when I get spam that doesn’t get filtered, how do I tell SpamSieve that it’s spam - or that something it flagged is good?

This is described in Step 4 in the first post. The SpamSieve menu commands are now in the SpamSieve menu bar icon because apps in macOS Sonoma are no longer allowed to add menu items directly to Mail.

Ah - and I remember reading that when I did my initial install of the new version and completely forgot it when I did the upgrade. Thank you!

As of SpamSieve 3.0.2b1, this should no longer be necessary. It will automatically filter the inboxes even if you encounter the macOS bug.

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