i *hate* os x mail


Here's why...

There's no way to tell mail.app on OS X that you don't want it to check mail on one of your accounts. (Update: Well, no obvious way. Turns out the "advanced" tab in account preferences lets you deactivate it.) My main account was freezing, so to get it to stop trying to check it, I deleted the account in mail.app, figuring I'd add it back in later when the server problem was fixed. It flashed up the predictable "are you sure" message, and I automatically clicked yes. Much too fast, alas.

It turns out that if you delete an account in mail.app, it deletes every piece of mail sent or received under that account at the same time. In this case, nearly 2000 pieces of mail, going back several years. And it really deletes them, as in rm -rf, not as in "moved to the trash."

I want to cry.

To compound that problem, my husband recently overwrote my Firewire hard drive (which I use for backups), so I have no backup of this information. None. And this is POP mail, not IMAP, so it's not on the server. It is well and truly gone forever.

Did I mention that I want to cry?

I'm going home now.


Oy! I wince in sympathetic pain.

I am an amazing digital packrat and probably have 10,000 emails going back years. But I've suffered severe data loss many times in my life, and each time it ends of being kind of liberating -- maybe not for the first week, while you take care of things that related to the most recent stuff you just lost, but a few months later when you don't miss it and your data baggage is lighter (just think of how much faster searches will run!)

Still, I am sorry. I'll hope that it all comes out ok in the end.

You might want to try this: http://www.binarybiz.com/vlab/mac.php

I have never used it, but they claim that with their free trial version, it will identify up to 1MB of deleted files. I did a test with Apple's Mail.app and indeed it does delete the account folder that is stored in home/Library/Mail. Who knows, if the trial at least shows you that it can find your deleted account folder, it might get you back to normal.

Similar to Stewart, last year I had a lost-all-mail crash and other than trying to recall the few seriously pending things to reply to, it was indeed somewhat liberating to start all over.

Thanks to the inability of Windows XP to ever establish a workable connection to the Firewire drive, your back-up should still be intact.

I suppose this is the first time I can remember ever thanking Bill Gates for something.

Liz - Sorry to hear of your loss - yikes :(

I knew there were lots of reasons I like IMAP so much...

Rumor has it that the next iteration of the os x mail app is much improved...might ask your nearby apple rep if the behavior that bit you is changed.

Just today I switched over from using the os x mail app to mozilla thunderbird - you might want to check it out, even though it's only a 0.2 release.

ok, well hmm, mine usually doesn't do delete it. it just removes the mail from the interface...... check library/mail in your home folder for your old mail. no promises but it might still be there.

Oh, that must be awful. Let us know if one of the comments here turns out to be helpful...

Oh, honey.

Martini on me.

Not that it helps you recover your lost mail (I hate it when that happens to me, full sympathy), but on my Mac I note that under Mail | Preferences... | Accounts | Advanced there is a check box to say "Enable this account" and another that says "Include when automatically checking for new mail" - at least, my IMAP and my HTTPMail accounts have it, I don't have any POP accounts.

Thanks for the ideas and the support. Alas, the files on the hard drive are well and truly gone. It looks like I can retrieve everything through mid-June (the last time I backed up; my bad, I know). So much of today will be spent trying to reconstruct critical info from the last couple of months.

Could be worse, of course. I didn't lose my address book. And I've certainly learned my lesson about regular backups.

Regular backups are, sadly, something we all end up relearning more than once...

I just did the same thing - deleted my account and lost all email for it. Has anyone found a solution to get my mail back. I mainly just want my Sent Mail.

Actually - I just found out how to get my mail back. The main mail I wanted back was my Sent Mail (as I keep most of my received mail in Project folders which were not effected by the deletion of the Account.

The procedure for recovering Sent Mail is:

1. Use Norton Unerase to find files called 'mbox' that have been 'deleted'. Make sure you save these to a different hard disk to the one that your mail was on.

2. Find the 'mbox' that has the biggest file size AND was deleted on the sad day that you deleted the Account (in my case this file was 200+MB). It was my guess that this was the file I needed - fortunately I was right.

3. Go to Users>your user>Library>Mail
and find the POP-your email account folder (this will be the one you have set up after finding that you deleted your old one - if you have not done so, set it up in the Mail>Preferences>Accounts in Mail).

4. In POP-your email account folder you will find 4 mailboxes and a file. Drag out the 'Sent Messages.mbox' letterbox and store it somewhere else (delete later if all goes well).

5. Setup a new folder in your 'POP-your email account folder' called 'Sent Messages' (note: do not add .mbox yet).

6. Drag the recovered mbox file into this new 'Sent Messages' folder.

7. Add .mbox suffix to the end of your folder 'Sent Messages' so it is then called 'Sent Messages.mbox'. You will see it turn from a folder into a mailbox.

8. Start up Mail.

And voila - there it all is!!!

It will all be unread mail, but one can then select all and then 'mark as read'.


Jono - Sydney, Australia

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