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A friend has been having problems with Mail. Notably, Time Machine is no longer working within Mail, and Mail says it has huge and seemingly arbitrary numbers of messages in the title bar.

For example, while looking at a folder that clearly has just a couple dozen messages, the title bar says something like: "Inbox (6487431079 messages, 524981056 unread)". This is similar, with different numbers, for every mailbox. We ran out of time and I did not try it on a brand new mailbox.

This happened after my friend switched Internet providers, and all his old email disappeared. I tried "Mailbox --> Rebuild" to no avail. While in Mail, Time Machine showed no messages backed up since the switch, and no messages at all prior to the switch. He was using POP for both providers.

Using Finder, I looked through his backup disk, and found the old email and restored it manually, but it still has those strange numbers, and Time Machine does not work within Mail, although it still seems to be backing up his ~/Library/Mail folder.

I tried quitting Mail, deleting his ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.* files, and re-starting, but no change in the weird numbers.

He was quite behind in updates, and I cycled through Software Update until nothing else installed -- still weird numbers. (This is Snow Leopard.)

Is there some other preferency file I should be deleting to fix this? Any other ideas?

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1 Answer 1

I remember solving an issue similar to this, one or two years ago. I don't have a Snow Leopard system handy so unfortunately I cannot be absolutely sure as to the process required. The steps below are what I would do for a Lion system with some notes attached where possible adaptations would be required.

As you suspected, the problem is due to a file becoming corrupt.

Solution:

  1. Quit Mail if it is open.
  2. In Finder, go to ~/Library/Mail and backup the folder contents
  3. While still in ~/Library/Mail, open the subfolder called V2. Inside that folder there should be a folder called MailData, open that folder. (If you do not see a folder called V2 or a folder called MailData, it is because the folder structure may have changed between OS versions. Proceed to step four in this case.)
  4. There are a few possible files which may need to be removed from the User's mail folder. In the MailData folder (or if you do not have a MailData folder) search for and move the following files to the Desktop:

(I suggest removing them one at a time and relaunching Mail after removing each file. If it works, your job is done.)

  • DefaultCounts
  • LSMMap2
  • Envelope Index -- (If you have to delete this file, delete the following two at the same time)
  • Envelope Index-shm
  • Envelope Index-wal

A possible pitfall to this method: There is a possibility all messages in folders could get marked as Unread. Depending on the users workflow, this could also be a problem; though a solvable problem through sorting read and unread messages temporarily into different folders and recombining later.

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