Calendar spam. Believe it or not, it’s a thing. It’s when you get a calendar “invitation” to some sale, possibly from a Chinese-language source. The thing is that it could also be used to lure you to a phishing or malware site.
Many of us received some this weekend—you might have seen notifications pop up in OS X El Capitan, macOS Sierra, iOS, or in your third party calendar app. You can change the way your Mac or iOS device handles these invitations, and there’s also a trick for deleting them without notifying the spammer. I explain both below.
Calendar spam the newest wave of nuisance email from bottom feeding spammers. What they’re doing is trying to get you to notice a sale by sending it to you as a calendar invite. On Macs and iPhones, Mail will read the invitation and add it to Calendar. Anyone with notifications set for calendar invites will then get it in Notifications, too.
I got three over the Thanksgiving weekend. In addition to the notifications that I didn’t screenshot, they invites looked like this in Calendar.
Disarming Calendar Spam
As noted by Aaron Douglas, calendar spam works because of an Apple feature. Mail reads your incoming calendar invite, renders it unto Calendar, and deletes the invitation email for you. For legit invitations, this is great. For spam, it sucks.
If you’re getting a lot of this nonsense, you can change the way iCloud/Mail looks at those incoming invitations. To do so, you need to log on to iCloud.com > Calendar > Settings (the gear at the bottom left of the screen, as shown below.
Tap that gear to open Preferences. Then tap the Advanced tab, as shown below.
Scroll down a bit and look for the “Receive event invitations as” setting. If you have the above-described problem, yours will be set to “In-app notifications.” Change it to “Email to [your address],” and your spam will stay in Mail.
Just realize that your legit Calendar invitations will stay there, too.
Next: The Problem with Calendar Spam and How to Delete It Without Notifying the Spammer