What to do When Mail Goes Postal (updated)

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Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004, 16:31
Category: Archive

com.apple.mail.plist - The CulpritI was having some pretty weird problems with Apple’s Mail.app (1.3.8 v618) lately and I found a good fix. Take the jump and nuke the plist…


com.apple.mail.plist - The CulpritI was having some pretty weird problems with Apple’s Mail.app (1.3.8 v618) lately and I found a good fix. Some of my problems included:
1. Mailboxes report being locked by (null) preventing Mail from quitting and necessitating a Force Quit.

Mailbox locked by (null)

2. Problems sending email and hanging while the Activity Viewer says “Copying messages to Outbox” – again requiring a Force Quit.
Copying Messages to Outbox

In my search for a solution I found this thread on the Apple Discussion Boards where a level 3 moderator named Allan Sampson1 suggests checking out your fonts, then running Disk First Aid from the CD and Repair Disk Permissions from the hard drive:

Have you recently installed, removed or disabled any fonts?
Check the following regarding fonts:
Kurt Lang, “Font Management in OS X Panther”, 08:53am Mar 22, 2004 CDT
If the required fonts are available and enabled, I would try some system maintenance first. Boot from the Panther install disk #1 and navigate to Disk Utilities via the installer menu to run Disk First Aid on the hard drive. If any problems are reported and repaired, run it again until no problems are reported.
Boot from your normal hard drive volume and repair disk permissions using Disk Utility from the hard drive.
Test if the Mail.app launches and operates correctly and report back. If not, there is an additional step to try.

If that doesn’t work he suggests:

Close the Mail.app and using the Finder, go to Home > Library > Preferences > com.apple.mail.plist. Select and move the com.apple.mail.plist file to the desktop.
Note: Moving the com.apple.mail.plist file to the desktop will require re-entering all email account information and other preference settings when re-launching the Mail.app.
When re-launching the Mail.app, decline the prompt to import mailboxes. A new com.apple.mail.plist file will be created and after re-entering all email account information the same as before, the Mail.app will rediscover existing account named folders and associated mailbox (mbox) files within located at Home > Library > Mail.
If the Mail.app launches successfully and all existing account mailboxes are available, you can delete the previous com.apple.mail.plist file from the desktop.

Deleting the com.apple.mail.plist file fixed most of my issues with Mail (I can send again now) but not everything. I still have 139 phantom messages that are on my mail server somewhere:

Fetching N of 139 Messages...

…despite my best efforts to remove them via:
Preferences > Accounts > Advanced > Remove now
Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad. What are your experiences with Mail? Any tricks that you want to share? Comments below do not require a login.

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