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Old Feb 3, 2012, 12:57 PM   #1
DisplacedMic
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Join Date: May 2009
Using mac mail to clean up gmail

MB 2.4 Ghz
OSX 10.6.8

Hello all,
I am trying to clean out my gmail account because it is over 95% full.
I currently use Mac Mail to read my email via the IMAP protocol.

When I delete an email on Mac Mail it deletes it off the gmail server so what I did was create a local folder "On my Mac" called "gmail backup"

I then highlighted all of my emails from before 2009 and dragged them over to the local folder. I thought I could then just go back up and delete all of them but now they're not showing up at all in my mac mail inbox but they're definitely not deleted off the server.

I wanted to avoid doing this with POP because I don't want to move all of my mail local - i just wanted to move anything over 2 years old or so.

What am I doing wrong?
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Old Feb 3, 2012, 06:25 PM   #2
smirk
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So you dragged mail from the Gmail folder into a new local folder that you created called "gmail backup"? And after dragging those messages over, they didn't show up in the gmail backup folder (as in, when you select "gmail backup" there are no messages)? And further, they are now missing from the Gmail inbox? Is that what you're saying?
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Old Feb 3, 2012, 06:28 PM   #3
DisplacedMic
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no, sorry i wasn't clear.

the messages all dragged over into Gmail Backup fine - so i assume they are now stored locally on my machine?

the problem is they no longer appear in my Mac Mail inbox like I expected they would but they are on the server when i go to gmail.com
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Old Feb 3, 2012, 06:52 PM   #4
smirk
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Oh, I see. Yes, I think you did everything correctly. I'm not in front of a Mac right now, but in Mail.app on the left you have your Inboxes, and then down below that you have various other (local) folders. So your "gmail backup" folder is down in that section, and when you select it then you can see all of your emails. It sounds like when you dragged them from Inbox to Gmail Backup that it moved them (locally at least) from one folder to the next -- but they're still on the server in your Inbox.

If you want to super double verify that those emails are truly on your computer then you could go into the Finder into ~/Library/Mail and snoop around. You should see a folder representing your gmail backup folder and see all the emails in there. When I get to my Mac I'll update this post with more details, if someone hasn't already done so.

Before you blindly delete years of emails out of Gmail, why don't you try deleting one message to make sure that it properly deletes from Gmail and yet remains in your local backup folder.
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Old Feb 3, 2012, 07:05 PM   #5
DisplacedMic
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that's the problem - there's some 40k messages in there and deleting them page at a time inside gmail is obviously not realistic - i was hoping to select, move, select, delete.

very strange - is there a way to resync the account? i suppose i could delete account and start over
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Old Feb 3, 2012, 07:15 PM   #6
smirk
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Ok, so what if you drag the emails back to the Inbox and then verify that they are once again "linked up" with the email on the server. Once that is done, can you Option-drag the emails into your "gmail backup" folder to make a copy of them instead of moving them? If so, then you should be able to delete the original ones in your Inbox, which should also delete them off of Gmail. And yet you'd have your copies inside your gmail backup folder.
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Old Feb 4, 2012, 06:47 AM   #7
DisplacedMic
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that's an excellent idea - but it's not working. i get a time-out error when i try and move that many messages: port 993 timeout. it really is behaving as if these are new messages. eg - there is an outgoing mail activity bar and incoming bar.

yet i can't figure out why they're still on the server yet not showing up in my mac mail inbox. i thought imap was "real time"
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Old Feb 4, 2012, 07:11 PM   #8
smirk
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I would try moving them in smaller batches. Maybe moving years of email messages is putting too much of a demand on the mail server, and then Apple Mail times out when it doesn't get an immediate response. I'm kind of just guessing, here.

Another guess is of why they're on the server but not in your inbox. Well, you actually moved them from your Inbox to a local folder, right? If you had moved them from your Inbox to another folder that is also on Gmail, I bet those messages would have moved from one folder to another on Gmail's servers. However, you moved the emails from your Inbox (which exists on Gmail's servers) to a local folder on your Mac (which doesn't exist on Gmail's servers). In that case, what is Gmail to do to keep everything in sync? It could either delete the emails out of the inbox, or it could just keep them there. Perhaps they chose a conservative approach and decided to keep them there. This is all speculation on my part, though.

Oh wait, are you getting that timeout error when you try to move the messages from your local folder back to your Inbox? If that's the case, I wonder if Gmail thinks these are new messages, like if the IMAP sync broke when you transferred everything from a Gmail-aware mailbox to a local one.

I think you should experiment with one message to figure out the behavior, and then once you know what to do, do it with more emails -- but still in smaller chunks instead of 40,000 messages at once.
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Old Feb 5, 2012, 05:52 AM   #9
DisplacedMic
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thanks smirk - that was a good idea. i am moving them back in batches. seems to work.

still bizarre that gmail didn't "delete" them.
you must be right - if you move or delete 1 or 2 on a remote imap protocol gmail deletes them, but not if you move closer to 40,000 ;p

what i still don't understand is if it's still on the gmail server, why doesn't mac mail just download them again?

(thanks for all of your help, by the way)
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Old Feb 5, 2012, 07:18 PM   #10
DisplacedMic
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the other thing that is completely bizarre to me is why do these messages disappear on Mac Mail IMAP and not Gmail even if delete the account and recreate it.
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