Over half (53 per cent) of Mac folk rely on Mac OS X Mail to deal with spam, the latest Macworld Online poll reveals.

Asked "How do you cope with spam?" A third (36 per cent) of 763 total voters said they delete spam as it comes in, while 11 per cent use an anti-spam filter.

Spam continues to be the curse of email, with top analyst firm Gartner revealing that unsolicited email accounts for up to 50 per cent of the average business mailbox.

Many readers now rely on Mac OS X Mail, which in Panther offers a better mail-filtering engine. Apple also includes a Junk Mail Privacy function to prevent spammers from knowing you received their junk mail.

One reader said: "I get loads of spam every day, but OS X Mail filters-out most of it automatically, so it's not much of a problem – just a minor annoyance."

Although readers praise the Mac OS X junk-mail filter some feel there's room for improvement: "It is pretty damn good but it doesn't stop the stuff downloading and clogging up my hard-drive."

Another reader observed: "I've found the OS X spam filter can be over-zealous if anything. It picks things up as spam which aren't."

This is a common experience: "I find Mail treats as suspicious emails where there are multiple recipients," said another.

Hotmail users are also cursed by spam: "I get a lot of spam in Hotmail," one reader said.

Another receives spam in his Yahoo account, but concedes: "Although Yahoo! may not be perfect, it does at least manage to filter most of it away.

One reader praised .Mac: "I find I get very little spam, and none seems to come through to my .mac account," he said.

Hints and Tips On the Macworld Forums one reader advises: "I've found the best way is to have an account for signing up to forums and news lists, and one for your personal stuff."

He added: "I never publish my address on Web pages - or if I do I write it in a format that these spambots won't pick up."

Another reader suggests: "My tip is do not open or unsubscribe to a piece of junk mail – it gives the sender a signal that your account is live and you will deluged by the stuff."

Another reader agreed: "Once you publish your email address anywhere on the Web, or if you use a commonly encountered name that may easily be guessed at, you will get loads of spam. I've found that the best solution is to have several accounts with different ISPs.

An alternative way to deal with Spam was attempted by an enraged computer programmer in Silicon Valley recently. He is reported to have threatened to torture and kill employees of the company he believed had been sending him spam. He was arrested, and will soon go on trial.

One Macworld reader is waiting for someone to develop "a neat little piece of software that will deliver the spammers a massive electrical discharge by means of an inter-galactic cattle-prod". As yet no company has announced plans to develop such software.

Both the US and UK governments are proposing legislation against spammers. Critics say the legislation will do little to solve the problem of spam.