Catch all email address problems


How do I accomplish the following: I want to change my email address from a “catch-all” to a non-catch all. I’m on shared hosting.

I created an email address in the “Manage Email” panel. I completed the fields for “Fully Hosted Email”. I didn’t see any options for “make this an non-catch-all email address”.

Note: the panel auto-completed the other two sections, i.e., “Forward Only Email” and “Garbage Email”, with the email I had just created. I don’t know why it did that.

My goal is: to NOT have a catch-all email address in order to reduce the amount of spam I receive.


Doesn’t "" show up in your email address list in Manage Email? If so, then delete it. A valid email address won’t “catch all.” It will only receive mail addressed to that address.

Personally, I set up some “catch-all” addresses as garbage addresses so random email bombs on my domains just go to garbage rather than get bounced around the Internet.

The panel auto-fills in the other sections in case you want to switch that address from Fully Hosted to something else, like forwarding or garbage.

I’m still clueless after reading your response. In the Manage Email, there is 1 path to follow: “create a Traditional Email Hosting Email Address”. There is 1 field in which to create your new email address. And it warns us: (Use “catch-all” to catch any address not specifically set-up.)
You will get lots of spam with a catch-all!

This terrible UI seems to suggest: create your email here, but beware, it will be a catch-all so you’ll get a lot of spam. However, if you want a Traditional Email Address, it is by default a catch-all, so you’re stuck with this problem.

An alternative to your problem is to create 2 other email addresses that will filter your email??

My client gets a ton of junk email on her Traditional Email Address that I created in the Dreamhost Manage Email panel; I have to provide a solution.

What should I do? Thanks for your help. - sergi

I agree that the wording is somewhat confusing. Here’s how it works:

If you setup an email address, let’s say it will ONLY get mail sent to

If you also setup an email address of any mail sent to any address at OTHER THAN will be sent to the forwarded address.

If you have the catch-all address, mail sent to will go the catch-all account. So would

The catch-all is meant to catch mail sent to a wrong address at your domain.

That can be good and bad. It can generate spam as spammers know that many domains have a catch-all so they just send to a random address at the domain such as That’s the bad part.

The good part is that you can fight spam using a catch-all, too. Say you signup for a newsletter at They ask you for an email address as part of the registration. I usually give

Now if I start getting a lot of spam sent to I KNOW it came from selling or sharing my email address. To avoid all of the spam at that address I simply make a new email address called and make its mailbox size 1k. It is almost instantly full and the spammers begin getting undeliverable notices which normally drops your address from their robot’s lists.

Most email servers can be taught to filter most spam anyway.

My suggestion: have your “good” email address be the one you give friends and family, have everything else go to which forwards to your good email address. When you begin to get a lot of spam - look and see what address it was sent to.

One last thing, I also give some friends as my email address because it is easier for them to remember. The catch-all address receives it, forwards it to my good address, and I can filter by friends’ names to have their mail get tagged as important or moved to a friends’ folder.

Good luck!

Great advice and explanations from these guys already. Basically, here is likely what you need to do to get this working:

  1. Create an actual mailbox, and name it something similar… say “whiffer@” or “nomatch@” etc. You’ll want to set up some pretty stringent limits on it as far as space and number of messages, etc… because as they explained, a lot of times spammers will just make up addresses like "" and send it to random email addresses like that. They’ll all end up in the catch-all@ because of course, they’re not valid recipients.

  2. After that mailbox is created, you may want to login to it to make sure everything gets created properly and the account is actually made and works.

  3. Go back into the mail area and “Add” a new email address.

  4. Go down to “Forward Only email” and enter “catch-all” in the first part and select your wanted domain from the dropdown.

  5. In the second box, (the one where these “catch-all” emails will be sent to), enter the address you created in step 1. This will be your official catch-all email address that you can login to, etc… is the actual email address you made in step 1, NOT catch-all@yourdomain. That is not a “real” email address, per-se, it simply forwards any stray emails to that mailbox.

  6. You likely do NOT want to use your normal email address or something like that as the address for catch-all@ to forward to, unless you want a ton of spam flooding into your personal account… that’s why we set up a totally separate mailbox to simply fufill this duty. To store the random emails that don’t hit a valid email.

  7. Login as often as you deem necessary and see what all kind of nasties you’ve collected for yourself.

Hopefully that should get you fixed up. The others did a great job as well, and their advice was also correct. Let us know how it goes.

After you have it all set up, just send an email to, then go check the mailbox that your catch-all@ forwards to. See if it’s in there. If so, you’ve successfully set up a catch-all address. The good part about that as well is that with it being a real mailbox, you can set up rules… for instance, if it’s any email addresses that you know, you may want to reply with a message telling them that’s not your correct email… like using a whitelist. You can be very flexible with that.