Mail doesn't recognise data after clean install of High Sierra

ashleykaryl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 22, 2011
204
35
UK
I've had a world of problems with the High Sierra upgrade and last night I was forced to do a clean install. For some reason it's not recognising the mail data with all my folders etc.

All the information has been dragged across from Time Machine, but Mail just doesn't see it. I previously did a straight upgrade from Sierra to High Sierra, which worked for this part at least, so I'm scratching my head wondering why Mail doesn't see all the messages now. It's synching with the server fine and iCloud handled all the accounts automatically, but it won't show old archived messages.

I made a point of using the same name for my computer and user as before. Any ideas for how I can persuade Mail to see the data? I've tried removing the envelope files in the user library Mail folder to force renewal, which seems to refresh gmail, but has no effect on the other email addresses or show the archived folders with messages.
 

dianeoforegon

macrumors 6502a
Apr 26, 2011
907
137
Oregon
Mail in Sierra stores your data in v4. Mail in High Sierra imports your data into V5. You can't just drag over.

Quit Mail.
Rename the Mail folder to MailXXX.
Delete the com.apple.mail folder in Containers.
System Preferences > Internet Accounts
Add your account back.
Open Mail. Your IMAP accounts will download all folders. If you have POP you will need to import some data from the MailXXX folder into the new Mail.
 

ashleykaryl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 22, 2011
204
35
UK
Mail in Sierra stores your data in v4. Mail in High Sierra imports your data into V5. You can't just drag over.

Quit Mail.
Rename the Mail folder to MailXXX.
Delete the com.apple.mail folder in Containers.
System Preferences > Internet Accounts
Add your account back.
Open Mail. Your IMAP accounts will download all folders. If you have POP you will need to import some data from the MailXXX folder into the new Mail.
Sorry I wasn't clear enough. I was already using High Sierra before the clean install and the problems were in other areas, so it really should be possible to just drag across the data with no conversion process.

If I check in the Mail folder all the data is already in a V5 folder. I've tried deleting the envelope files, but it only seems to rebuild a gmail account, ignoring the others. I may try your idea though just to see if it works here.

The IMAP part seems to be working fine. It's the old archived mail with the problem.
 
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hotpotato123

macrumors member
Sep 15, 2009
42
39
Mail in Sierra stores your data in v4. Mail in High Sierra imports your data into V5. You can't just drag over.
This is what frustrates me about every iteration of Apple Mail - where they change the file structure. I don't particularly care for any of the fancy features of each new iteration. I just need a stable IMAP client. When setting up a new account, I have around 10GB of IMAP data from different email accounts, and I want to just do a clean install by copying folders across from one Mac to another without using migration assistants. Hence, the constant tinkering with the v3, v4, v5 of Apple Mail drives me to find other alternatives.
 

ashleykaryl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 22, 2011
204
35
UK
I eventually sorted this out, but it required a strange workaround that I eventually found on the Apple forums. Basically I had to empty the Mail folder and copy the entire contents to the desktop, then restart Mail. This left me with the email accounts intact, but no email.

At this stage I could then import the folders one by one from File > Import Mailboxes... This effectively generated the database again with only V5 now visible in the Mail folder. Presumably Apple upgrade the versions as improvements appear in stability or performance, but there was definitely a bit of drama and hours of wasted time sorting this out. It was frustrating that the data could not even be correctly imported using Time Machine and the migration assistant, which really should have worked.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,342
928
Baltimore, Maryland
Glad you got it worked out.

Mail is a database app and the files aren't considered to be user files like photos or documents. They're located in an invisible folder, after all. Drag and drop in Time Machine is designed for plain old user files.

This is fine and dandy for folks that have all of their email in IMAP or Exchange folders but can be touchy, as you have found out, if you have email stored "On My Mac". That's why I try to steer my customers away from having email under "On My Mac" no matter what email client they use.
 

ashleykaryl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 22, 2011
204
35
UK
I basically use IMAP folders for the inbox and recent sent messages. Everything else goes on my Mac for local storage with local and offsite backups.

I have a lot of email, so this is partly done to reduce the amount of synching between devices, but also out of fear that if something happened to the server I might lose the whole lot. Most of my mail goes through my own domains and it seems risky having thousands of emails stored on a server where I have no physical access to the drive.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,342
928
Baltimore, Maryland
I basically use IMAP folders for the inbox and recent sent messages. Everything else goes on my Mac for local storage with local and offsite backups.

I have a lot of email, so this is partly done to reduce the amount of synching between devices, but also out of fear that if something happened to the server I might lose the whole lot. Most of my mail goes through my own domains and it seems risky having thousands of emails stored on a server where I have no physical access to the drive.
I get it...but if you have a TM backup or clone backup you've got email backups at home as well as in the cloud for IMAP or Exchange.

Even if you're using an online backup service like Carbonite you'd have to check to make sure it's backing up the email database...it may not do so by default.

As far as syncing "between devices" goes...a separate email account on the Mac (and not mobile devices) used for archiving would satisfy that requirement.
 

ashleykaryl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 22, 2011
204
35
UK
If that is the case it makes full sense to use IMAP for storage, rather than On My Mac. I was under the impression that local backups wouldn't include data stored on an external IMAP server.

That's a curious strategy, effectively keeping emails in one account that is not available on the mobile. Given that I want to collect all incoming emails for my main address when away from the computer, I guess this would entail setting up a "dummy email" account on the computer purely for archiving IMAP messages away from the mobile.
[doublepost=1508507201][/doublepost]I'm looking at this now, but it's not allowing me to just drag folders inside "On My Mac" to the IMAP area.
 
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ashleykaryl

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 22, 2011
204
35
UK
OK, I hadn't tried that directly. I was trying to drag over sub folders from inside On My Mac. Having just checked the Mail folder in my user library, it contains 22 gigs of data, so I'm trying to look at a way of doing this sensibly with minimal risk. There probably a few hundred sub folders in there.