Catalina Mail Happiness
January 13, 2020 4:06 PM   Subscribe

After waiting a few months, I have updated the Macs around here to Catalina. Apparently the initially reported mail problems haven't been fixed yet. I need some guidance to solve one specific problem, preferably from people who have been able to solve this one specific problem:

This is about the fact that, for IMAP e-mail accounts, the preferences in Mail (MacOS Catalina) do not longer allow to check a box that assigns the program to delete e-mails from the server once they've landed in the inbox onboard my computer.

(To specify the problem, and what I've tried: the tab "mailbox behaviors" for IMAP providers [as somewhat opposed to the exchange account, where there are at least some boxes to check or uncheck] in "preferences" in Mail has now only unusable information that doesn't address this issue; going to system preferences and looking at the account info doesn't either display a workable interface to change behaviors)

What happens now is that my computer talks back and forth with the mail server, leaving stuff there in the inbox (and in the future, likely clogging it) and generating all kinds of erratic behavior around deleted messages too.

So the question, Catalina specific: is there a hidden way to tweak the settings/preferences of Mail so it does learn how to delete stuff from the server of my mail provider once things were downloaded?

(more background: a search reveals that a lot of people have problems with a lot of features of the new version of mail, including this very problem, which often is phrased in secondary-scenario descriptions like "deleted messages keep popping up again" etc., and generates hilariously vague answers from the tech community [someone went to a Genius bar with this issue and the dudes there said, this' ain't an Einstein-bar, sorry]. Sooo...I am only addressing the problem above for the time being. YES I also have also lost all my inboxes and their content and found a pedestrian way to retrieve them out of the guts of the system, but that's not the point of this question)
posted by Namlit to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have access to a Macintosh that has not been upgraded to Catalina? Could you take a screen shot of the preference that has been removed? I am running Mojave, I use with IMAP accounts, and I just looked in preferences and I don't see anything that resembles what you're describing.

In particular, you say that you want to "delete e-mails from the server once they've landed in the inbox onboard my computer". That's not generally how IMAP works. Are you think of pop mail?

With pop mail, you download the messages from the server and then once they are on your computer they get deleted from the server.

With IMAP, your computer is synchronized with the server. So messages that are in the inbox on your computer are also in the inbox on the server. When you delete a message on your computer there is some choice of behavior.

Perhaps I'm confused and someone else will be able to answer your question, but I think there may be a misunderstanding on your end. It could be helpful if you could link to a screen shot of the preference you're talking about on a pre-Catalina Mac, or point to some of the other places where you say this problem is discussed.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 8:26 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Ok, thanks, this might be the information I was missing. I'll search on along that road. There might be a method to configure that specific mail service as pop.

Much possibly, then, it's just a matter of the new (and unruly, as per the internets) Catalina Mail not being able to talk properly to my (rather old and maybe cranky) e-mail provider, because I'm having a host of irritating secondary issues like an inability to move certain messages: out of the spam folder (those that aren't spam); or from the inbox to the archive folder etc. etc. I feel like there are several things going on at once here...

posted by Namlit at 8:26 AM on January 14

It does sound like you used to use POP and have now switched to IMAP.

IMAP does have advantages in that your mail is available everywhere, and from multiple devices.
I found a list here that explains the choices nicely:

Choose POP If…
- You want to access your mail from only one single device.
- You need constant access to your email, regardless of internet availability.
- You have limited server storage.

Choose IMAP If…
- You want to access your email from multiple different devices.
- You have a reliable and constant internet connection.
- You want to receive a quick overview of new emails or emails on the server.
- Your local storage space is limited.
- You are worried about backing your emails up.

To manage the size of your inbox, check with your mail provider, there are likely settings you can use to move older messages from the inbox to an 'old messages' folder (usually based on X amount of messages or Y time). I have folders with tens of thousands of messages that I don't access frequently, but can if needed, whilst my inbox is kept relatively small.

I haven't encountered the "deleted messages keep popping up again" issue (at least not in recent memory), that sounds like perhaps a sync issue. I've been a happy user of Thunderbird for my mail (with IMAP) for a long time now, though I understand how users may be reticent to switch to software they're not familiar with.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:54 PM on January 14

So just to wrap this up: I deleted one of the offending accounts on my Mac and re-installed it choosing POP and indeed, the little box (delete messages on server after downloading) that I was looking for in fact re-appeared. So thanks for explaining this to me. I'll try to do the same with the other account (after making some safety copies...).

[what of course can't be explained is why the upgrade to Catalina lost me my entire mail archive and all the settings in the first place. Something could be retrieved, but by far not all. Booh]
posted by Namlit at 7:13 AM on January 15

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