I use several IMAP accounts for e-mail, and, except for iCloud, all of them show duplicate folders for Sent, Trash, and Draft mailboxes:

Folders in Lion Mail

These duplicate folders are (generally) always empty, and seem to have no special status (e.g. the absence of the special icons used in OS X or iOS Mail):

enter image description here

But there seems to be nothing I can do to get rid of them. Is there a way to delete these folders or configure my IMAP accounts so that I at least don't have to see them in my iOS and OS X Mail clients?

Addendum: Here's what the folders look like through the hosts webmail interface:

enter image description here

  • Note that this is distinct from a related question about the same behavior, but which seeks a different outcome.
    – orome
    Nov 30, 2011 at 19:46

3 Answers 3

  1. Set Mail to use your operator’s folders by opening them and selecting Mailbox>Use this mailbox for>[folder function].
  2. Move all messages from old folders to the new ones
  3. Delete the old, now empty folders.
  • Nice! But which one is the 'old folder'? After step 1) I got the section on my mac. Is this supposed to be the new one? That would be strange, because its offline, right?
    – gentmatt
    Dec 1, 2011 at 9:15
  • The „new ones” are the ones created by your server.
    – kinokijuf
    Dec 1, 2011 at 12:00

This has to do with the IMAP severs. Some folders can be visible, others hidden.

A program like Mail.app shows all folder that it see by default. If you want to hide some, you need to hide them in the preferences of the email provider.


I've got a Gmail account. By default in Gmail the folders/labels sent, marked, trash... etc. are shown. Unlike Mail.app, Google mail has an option to disable these in Gmail.

On the other hand, Mail.app adds the Junk-E-Mail folder/label. I disabled the Junk-E-Mail option in the App and deleted the folder, since Google's spam filter is more reliable for my taste.

Solution for Gmail

Before: enter image description here enter image description here After: enter image description here

  • It looks like the provider has no options for hiding folders. In fact, the folders in question (unlike the ones actually used by Mail) cannot even be moved, renamed, or deleted (even though they are empty and entirely unused). See additional image above.
    – orome
    Nov 30, 2011 at 23:30
  • Ok, I guess I know why. I remember my iPhone being the reason for the folders: Sent Messages and Deleted Messages. Probably also the other bold folders. Are you using an iPhone with your with your Email? If that is so, you should see in Sent Messages only emails you sent from your iPhone.
    – gentmatt
    Dec 1, 2011 at 9:00
  • Never mind: I can clearly see from the one photo, that you are using an iOS device. Lol!
    – gentmatt
    Dec 1, 2011 at 9:03

Ok, since you're using an iPhone - which is the reason for the extra labels - follow these instructions:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings -> Mail -> (Account Name) -> Account Info -> Advanced
  2. Under Mailbox Behaviors for Drafts, choose Drafts. On the iPhone this will save all drafts locally.

  3. For Sent Mailbox choose Sent Mail ON THE SERVER.

  4. Do the same for Trash.

  5. In Mail.app, click on the Sent Mail mailbox of the provider. Then on Mailbox -> Use this Mailbox For -> Sent.

  6. Do the same for Trash.

After a few sync's it should work as expected.

Source: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/gmail/thread?tid=2cf4ecaa25aa7351&hl=en

  • I believe this is the opposite of what I'm attempting to do: I want to continue to use the "special" folders on the server (synced across all my devices, and currently in use) and get rid of the unused additional folders on the there. I.e., when I'm done, I only want to see the special folder icons on all my devices (representing folders on the server) and no "regular" icons.
    – orome
    Dec 1, 2011 at 19:49

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