Mail search finds message I haven't yet downloaded?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Doctor Q, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #1
    I did a search in Mail.app for a keyword I thought might be in the subject line of some messages. It showed me two copies of the same message from last September, a message I had sent to somebody else about a backup script I was writing, e.g.,
    Code:
    From          Subject          Date
    Doctor Q      diskbackup       Sep 30, 2005
    Doctor Q      diskbackup       Sep 30, 2005
    When I clicked on one, I was shown the message in my Sent mailbox. But when I clicked on the other, the message display area had only this:
    The message from Doctor Q <doctorq@...> concerning “diskbackup” has not been downloaded from the server. You need to take this account online in order to download it.
    It's a POP3 account, and always online, and mail is not kept on the server after I pick it up. Furthermore, the message in question is one I sent, not one I received, so it wouldn't ever have been on the server waiting for download.

    I looked for clues in Mail.app's help, and rebuilt the Sent mailbox to see what would happen, and the symptom is reproducible and remains unexplained.

    This is not a problem I need to solve, but I'm curious exactly what caused Mail.app to display this message, and under what normal circumstances Mail would be able to identify POP3 messages in a search that have not yet been downloaded.
     
  2. TheMac19 macrumors regular

    TheMac19

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Location:
    Pitt
    #2
    I'm now having this problem with several of my mailboxes. No idea why, as it's with my gMail account, and messages in certain mailboxes in mail.app are showing that error. I'm wondering if maybe somehow a folder got renamed (or deleted?) accidentally making mail not be able to find previously downloaded messages?
     
  3. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #3
    Have you done anything "interesting" with the Mail application lately?

    Examples: had it crash, upgraded Mac OS X, removed a bunch of mailboxes, added a new mail account, etc.
     
  4. TheMac19 macrumors regular

    TheMac19

    Joined:
    May 13, 2004
    Location:
    Pitt
    #4
    I have fiddled a bit with my mailboxes, but this behaviour seems strange...

    For example, in my mailboxes (on my mac) I had one folder titled "productions" nested as a sub-mailbox to another "Work." (On My Mac/Work/Productions). now, if I drag the "Productions" mailbox to be on it's own under "On My Mac" (i.e. parallel to "Work" rather than a sub-mailbox") the result is that all mail messages in the "Productions" folder show that error, and cannot be read. If I move the folder back to being a subcategory of "Work" everything in that folder is fine...

    So that one I've got figured out, but I still have the error somewhat randomly in my other mailboxes. I did change the name of the Main Folder "On My Mac" to Saved e-mails, which seems to be the initial cause, yet some mailboxes are fine while others are totally shot. I tried rebuilding my some of my troubled mailboxes and have not been successful - as that just apparently deleted everything from one mailbox.

    To make matters worse, in the hopes of getting this sorted, I went into gMail's settings and enabled pop access to all, which made mail download everything from the past year plus, and to add insult to injury it did it all twice, so now have two copies of everything I've sent and received in the past year!

    Yowsers, my Mail is really crunked up now. I'mm hoping I might find an automator workflow that can sniff out and delete duplicate e-mail within the Mail.app - that shouldn't be too hard to do, right?
     
  5. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #5
    Yikes! I didn't know you could rename On My Mac. I thought it was a built-in name, which I also assume for Inbox, Drafts, Sent, and Trash.

    I don't know enough about how Mail works underneath the exterior to know the ideal solution, but I can take a guess.

    It seems to me that there are four possibilities:

    1. Mail's recordkeeping files have lost track of some of your folder structure, even thought the folders/files holding the actual e-mail are fine.

    2. File ownerships or permissions are wrong, so Mail is trying to read or write a file but being denied access.

    3. The actual e-mail folders/files have been damaged in some way.

    4. Mail and its files are fine, but there are problems in the indexes of the mail files that were created by Spotlight.

    Because the symptom appears and disappears when you move mail around, I think we can rule out #3. If you use only one account (login name) on your Mac to access mail then I don't think #2 applies either.

    In case the problem is #4, here's something you could try:
    In the Terminal application, use the command
    Code:
    sudo mdimport ~/Library/Mail
    to force Spotlight to reindex your Mail folders. It will ask for your admin password. Or you can use the much-slower command
    Code:
    sudo mdutil -E /
    to force Spotlight to delete it's index for the whole boot volume and reindex it completely.​
    If that fixes it, hooray!

    If not, here's something you could try in case #3 is the problem:
    In Mail, create a new mail folder at the top level. Move all the mail from one of your current mail folders (e.g., "productions") to the new mail folder (e.g., "new"). Check if it all appears in the new mail folder properly and you can see the messages. If so, delete the now-empty "productions" folder and rename the "new" folder to "productions".​
    If that fixes the symptom, you can do the same for your other mail folders.

    And if none of that helps, the next step might be something more drastic: Backing up your e-mail messages themselves (in the Finder), deleting and reinstalling the Mail application from scratch, and then importing all your mail back in again.
     

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