I have this stupid symptom with my mac mail since upgrading from 10.6 to 10.7.

I have multiple exchange accounts; a couple times a day the inbox for 1 or 2 of them will be blank, quitting mail and re-opening will re-download all the mail.

Search also only works by person, not 'message contains'

So - I made a new user, everything works perfectly. Symptom gone.

I formatted and restored from time machine, still have the problem.

This is a dev box with tons of customization - I want to properly PURGE the mail and accounts settings at the file system level, since I know a 'new user profile' is a proper fix for the problem.

Emptying the mail folders doesn't fix it, it re-downloads everything and the problem is still there.

Removing the accounts and re-adding doesn't fix it either.


This is a problem with Mail.app on OSX Lion which affects Exchange accounts only when Mail rules are enabled. All other IMAP/POP accounts work fine with rules. The "fix" I received from my sysadmin was to disable Mail rules — a bit harsh, but in the end I ended up implementing the same set of rules (mostly moving to different mailboxes) server side.

Digging further into this led me to this thread, and it seems the issue, while observed among Exchange users, has also affected others. Some of the suggestions there that worked were (not counting highly specific ones):

  • Delete all rules that were formerly in Snow Leopard and recreate them from scratch in Lion.
  • Use MailActOn, a paid app that costs US$25 to set up your rules. Several users commented positively on its usefulness.

One thing in common with nearly all the complaints there (and mine) are that the rules involve moving messages to different mailboxes. Simpler ones like highlighting messages still work (for me too). So until this is fixed by Apple, I'd recommend implementing rules that involve moving mails on the server side or using the app above.

  • Thank you. Mail.app was working fine on Lion but showing empty folder in Mountain Lion. I removed all Mail.app's rules and it's working fine now. Jul 30 '12 at 19:47

As you are a Developer, I assume some familiarity with Terminal:

find Library -name '*[Mm]ail*' -print

and delete all stuff relating to Mail. If this doesn't help, repeat the find looking for Exchange stuff.

  • That did find a lot of items - thanks we'll see if it helps/fixes Dec 16 '11 at 3:45

I have always renamed (and then later deleted) the ~/Library/Mail folder and ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist file. Once you relaunch Mail.app, it should ask you to set up an account again.

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