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7.13.9   How can I rebuild Apple Mail’s database?

Many common problems with Mail can be fixed by rebuilding all or part of its index database. For example:

First, try a quick rebuild. Select the problem mailbox, go to the Mailbox menu, and choose Rebuild.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, try a complete rebuild:

  1. Quit Mail.

  2. Locate the Envelope Index file:

    • On macOS 10.12, the file is stored at:

      /Users/<username>/Library/Mail/V4/MailData/Envelope Index
      

      See the How can I open the Library folder? section. Then open the Mail folder, then V4, then MailData to find the Envelope Index file.

      Make sure that you also delete Envelope Index-shm and Envelope Index-wal (if they exist).

    • On Mac OS X 10.11, the file is stored at:

      /Users/<username>/Library/Mail/V3/MailData/Envelope Index
      

      See the How can I open the Library folder? section. Then open the Mail folder, then V3, then MailData to find the Envelope Index file.

      Make sure that you also delete Envelope Index-shm and Envelope Index-wal (if they exist).

    • On Mac OS X 10.7 through 10.10, the file is stored at:

      /Users/<username>/Library/Mail/V2/MailData/Envelope Index
      

      See the How can I open the Library folder? section. Then open the Mail folder, then V2, then MailData to find the Envelope Index file.

      Make sure that you also delete Envelope Index-shm and Envelope Index-wal (if they exist).

    • On Mac OS X 10.6, the file is stored at:

      /Users/<username>/Library/Mail/Envelope Index
      

      See the How can I open the Library folder? section. Then open the Mail folder to find the Envelope Index file.

  3. Once you’ve found the file, drag it to the trash.

    Note: Rebuilding the index database is perfectly safe. Even though it seems that you are deleting a file, Mail stores its primary copy of your message data elsewhere. When you delete the damaged database, Mail uses this primary copy to create a new index database.

  4. Relaunch Mail. It will welcome you as if you haven’t used it before. This step may take a few minutes, as Mail searches through all of your stored messages to build your new database file. IMAP and Exchange messages will need to be re-downloaded from the server.

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