I've created a smart mailbox in macOS Mail for "Unread" messages with the following rules:

Contains messages that match all of the following conditions:

  • Message is in the mailbox: Inbox
  • Message is unread

The smart mailbox will always correctly include unread messages in my inbox. But often, it will incorrectly include read messages in my inbox. Any ideas on how I can fix this?

Other information and troubleshooting steps so far

  • Currently using macOS Sierra 10.12.6
  • Email account is hosted by Google
  • Other smart mailboxes with other rules still work properly.
  • If I use the filter button in my inbox, Mail will properly perform filtering -- even for unread messages.
  • I tried marking the problematic messages as unread and then as read again. Afterwards, the number next to the title of the "Unread" mailbox will decrease (because I have taken steps to mark messages as read), but the "Unread" mailbox itself will still list those messages (even though they are read).
  • I tried the above step from gmail.com. Same result.
  • I tried getting new mail. Nothing changes. I tried rebuilding my mailboxes. No rebuilding happens.
  • I tried rebooting my computer in safe mode. Then, any smart mailbox I created would contain no messages regardless of the rules I set.
  • There doesn't seem to be any pattern to which messages are problematic.
  • My "Unread" smart mailbox still behaves properly for non-problematic messages even if it contains problematic messages.
  • Once a problematic message appears in my "Unread" smart mailbox, it will stay there for a few days. Then, it will suddenly leave "Unread" and sit in my Inbox where it belongs.

1 Answer 1


Spotlight is responsible for searches, so I would add your home folder to the spotlight system preference privacy settings.

  • Then say Ok to any prompts that mention search will break.
  • Then remove your home folder and let the indexer re-index mail messages.
  • Restart after 30 minutes if you don’t see an improvement

There are more drastic and questionable options, but let’s start with safe and easy.

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