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Troubleshooting a Mail.app hanging crash Apps
After trying to set up Mail.app to remotely access my unix workplace email, I experienced two symptoms: (1) My entire home directory tree at my workplace was being read by Mail.app which was interpreting every file from .cshrc on up as a mailbox (a bit scary -- is it editing those files to mark them "read"?). (2) Mail.app would just hang, so I would have to force-quit it, and if I restarted it it would start out in a hung state, so it was totally useless.

Read the rest of the article for the troubleshooting steps and solution...

I had been having trouble getting any set of account settings in Mail.app to work, thanks to the lack of any kind of help (the lifesaver bouncing many times before allowing me to search from scratch for the help I need might be tolerable if the resulting "help" turned out to be something better than "enter the settings for your account". That's no help!)

Not seeing any solution, I spent a lot of time looking into all the third party mail readers out there, since although ssh and pine work fine, I happen to want something GUIer (maybe here on a Mac site I won't get puzzled stares when I say this, like happens at my workplace.) I slowly learned the hard way that none of them can handle secure IMAP or POP except Netscape mail, which is mindbogglingly slow in responding to even the simplest clicks, so I had to return to trying to fix the Mail.app problem.

After poring over many archives to no avail, I finally saw a MacOSXHints tip which led me in the right direction: Throw ~/Library/Mail in the Trash (I hadn't yet built up any mailboxes I cared about.) Then I could restart Mail.app, and it was responsive for long enough that I could use its preferences to disable all the accounts I had tried making (I wasn't sure at first which one had started "working" in this way) and not include them when checking for new mail (it was still trying to interpret my entire remote home directory through IMAP as I did this.)

I probably could have thrown ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist in the trash too, and started over from scratch, or I could have double clicked it to edit it with the Property List Editor.

I could then quit, trash ~Library/Mail and restart Mail.app yet again, and now it finally peacefully did nothing but respond to my clicks.

I discovered that the "hung" state is merely a (very severe) performance decline when there are a lot of mailboxes (like hundreds), which we now see can easily happen if things are configured wrong.

So how do we now fix the configuration? For IMAP, the "Account Path Prefix" had been blank (which I guess was defaulting to my home directory on the remote system), so I tried changing it to /var/spool/mail/cook (which of course is not a path prefix of any account, it's just the filename of my remote mail file) and now I can finally finally read my mail with Mail.app!
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Troubleshooting a Mail.app hanging crash | 6 comments | Create New Account
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well...
Authored by: etrepum on May 22, '02 01:53:58PM

"So how do we now fix the configuration? For IMAP, the "Account Path Prefix" had been blank (which I guess was defaulting to my home directory on the remote system), so I tried changing it to /var/spool/mail/cook (which of course is not a path prefix of any account, it's just the filename of my remote mail file) and now I can finally finally read my mail with Mail.app!"

In reality, you weren't "fixing" anything, you just configured it properly the second time. Should be titled "How to fix potential Mail.app hanging problems caused by user error in the IMAP configuration process"

Another alternative would be to just fix the plist file that contains the configuration info, which wouldn't require borking your cache and configuration for other properly configured accounts



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I've had similar problems...
Authored by: water451 on May 22, '02 01:54:56PM

I am on many developers' mailing lists, and keep all my email around, sorted by the various dealings I have and subjects I have conversations on. The size and scope of some of my Mail.app folders causes it to try to re-index them just about every time I launch the program, which results in forced reboots as you've described. So I automatically open the activity viewer (Opt-Command-V) on startup and kill any indexing threads, and immediately rebuild the index from the Mailbox menu. This avoids most issues with locking up the machine.

I also quit the application when I don't want to be bothered by it, since after long periods of running time, just about any major operation (selecting another mailbox) will nearly instantly kill the machine. I'm surprised it took so long for this problem to be noticed by someone else, though I never considered the problem with scanning my remote shell account's home directory.



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Not misconfigured
Authored by: Anonymous on May 24, '02 11:44:55AM

Mail.app is not misconfigured - it is broken.

IMAP daemons supply a list of subscribed mail boxes which Mail.app ignores. This bug has been reported to Apple a number of times for over a year, and they have not fixed it.

My mail folders are mostly in a ~/mail/ directory, but some are not, because I use other email applications which don't know about directories (IMP Webmail for starters).



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Not misconfigured
Authored by: rickt on May 28, '02 04:41:11PM

Invictus writes:

"IMAP daemons supply a list of subscribed mail boxes which Mail.app ignores. This bug has been reported to Apple a number of times for over a year, and they have not fixed it. "

True, but their IMAP folder prefix support is A-OK and since all of my IMAP folders (except INBOX) are in $HOME/Mail, I just put "~/Mail/" in the folder prefix location in the Preferences, and everything is just fine.

"My mail folders are mostly in a ~/mail/ directory, but some are not, because I use other email programs like IMPwebmail".

Then you should configure the other programs to either point to ~/mail/ which you probably can do, or at least construct a series of symbolic links pointing to something that you can point Mail.app to.

Also - you should dump IMP in a flash. Go with either Squirrelmail on Apache or IMHO on the Roxen webserver.



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Problems with Property List Editor
Authored by: krishna on Feb 15, '03 08:34:31PM

> I could have double clicked it to edit it with the Property List Editor.

I tried using Property List Editor to edit com.apple.mail.plist, but
when I changed one parameter (drawer width), and saved the file, it
changed my fonts in my header summary screen to big.

I then tried comparing the com.apple.mail.plist files (luckily, I had
a backup ... thank you, 'unison'), and found out that changing that
one parameter in the property list editor and saving the file set a
bunch of other numeric values to zero (looks like a bug). So beware
using the property list editor to edit your preferences -- I'd
recommend you make a backup of the com.apple.blah.plist file first,
then change your parameters using the property list editor, then use
'diff' between the old and new files to make sure it didn't change
anything else.

Strangely, editing the plist file by hand was no problem. I was also
able to remove by hand some old outgoing mail server entries that
didn't work (and strangely, mail.app provides no mechanism for
deleting) ... but maybe that's a topic for another macosx hint :-)



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Troubleshooting a Mail.app hanging crash
Authored by: mom on Mar 09, '03 08:43:44AM

To avoid that Mail.app lists the full content of your home directory on the mail server, supply a path prefix in the Mail.app Preferences (Accounts>Advanced) like ~/Mail and move all your mailboxes on the mail server to this particular directory. Everythings works fine then and Mail.app just indexes your ~/Mail folder and doesn't list the other files anymore.



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