Leopard, Apple Mail & IMAP Issues
February 28, 2008 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Leopard, Apple Mail & IMAP issues: Since upgrading to Leopard, Apple Mail seems sluggish and unresponsive. The application is effectively unusable. It's gotten to the point where I'm using webmail access on all of my machines. Is this an issue with Apple Mail or have I misconfigured something (I use Dreamhost for my personal email accounts).

On another note: Is there a better, more usable mail application I should consider? Should I go back to POP? Advice on all fronts is appreciated - my mail situation is a bit of a mess right now.
posted by aladfar to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What does the activity window (command-0) say Mail.app is doing?
posted by strangecargo at 3:38 PM on February 28, 2008

Response by poster: @strangecargo: Thanks for the tip. There are two progress bars accompanied by a red stop sign. It seems like the app is caching thousands of messages and attachments and continually communicating with the server.

I noticed this a while ago with the mail activity box that can be revealed in the lower left - whenever I launch Mail, I get the feeling that it's trying to download everything on the server.
posted by aladfar at 3:55 PM on February 28, 2008

I was having terrible problems with OS X Mail and IMAP (and Exchange). Retrieving mail would take a very long time. Messages sometimes took minutes to display. Attempts to rebuild the mailbox took close to a full day. In Activity, Comparing Notes with Server seemed to be the problematic phase. Eventually, through web mail, I found an unread message that, when clicked on, returned a 500 error. Deleting that message seems to have fixed the problem. OS X Mail doesn't seem to recover well from encountering a seriously messed up message. You might dig around and see if you can find a wonky message in one of your web mail folders.
posted by thinman at 3:57 PM on February 28, 2008

I've noticed Mail choking sometimes, too -- while syncing with my 5 IMAP accounts (admittedly too many). A Force-Quit and re-open usually fixes things.

As for alternatives, I don't know what to tell you... I don't like Entourage because it stores all files in one giant database = just screaming for corruption. Maybe try Thunderbird?
posted by rdn at 3:58 PM on February 28, 2008

Try this to force Mail to rebuild its cache from scratch:

1) Close Mail.
2) Back up and delete the /Users/yourname/Application Support/Mail folder.
3) Back up and delete the /Users/yourname/Caches/Mail (or /Users/yourname/Caches/com.apple.mail) folder.
4) Start Mail and see if things get better. (If things get worse, close Mail and restore the backed up folders.)

I don't have a Mac in front of me at the moment, so the folder names may not be quite right, but you should be able to figure it out. And, by 'back up,' I simply mean that you should copy those folders to some temporary location.

Alternately, skip step 2 and see if merely deleting the cache folder works.
posted by cobra libre at 4:07 PM on February 28, 2008

@aladfar: I had something similar happen when I switched IMAP server software. Eventually, Mail.app calmed down after recaching everything. I have a lot of email, so it took a while. Have you tried just leaving it running overnight?
posted by strangecargo at 4:08 PM on February 28, 2008


/Users/yourname/Application Support/Mail should be /Users/yourname/Library/Application Support/Mail

/Users/yourname/Caches/Mail should be /Users/yourname/Library/Caches/Mail
posted by cobra libre at 4:08 PM on February 28, 2008

MacFixit has some noted issues and solutions.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:45 PM on February 28, 2008

I've recently gotten mutt working on OSX, and I couldn't be happier. I don't know if it really qualifies as "usable" for most people, though that really depends on your skill level and what else you're comparing it to. It is extremely powerful, fast, and customizable, and will make you smarter as you use it.
posted by Caviar at 5:53 PM on February 28, 2008

My husband was having problems with Mail being very unresponsive, and severely culling the messages he had stored in his inbox made a big difference.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:55 PM on February 28, 2008

If you turn off caching for that account in Mail's preferences (or set it only to cache as you read stuff), you might spend less time downloading old mail. You lose some(?) searchability and the ability to read offline, though.
posted by hattifattener at 8:19 PM on February 28, 2008

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