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I have a university e-mail account (Exchange, if that makes a difference) which for reasons that aren’t relevant to this question does not work at the moment. The underlying user account has been disabled on the university’s servers, and I cannot log in.

This means my iPhone is constantly asking for a password – it obviously can’t connect since the account is frozen – and telling me it cannot fetch e-mail for this account. That is exceedingly frustrating. (It’s also terrible UI/UX to repeatedly block the entire interface from the user every time the app is opened, but that’s a different matter.)

In order to get rid of this infuriating, incessant pestering for a password that I can’t give, I would like to temporarily disable syncing from this account, but only syncing. Old e-mails which have been fetched should still appear in the inbox and subfolders and be searchable; it just shouldn’t try to actually connect to the server to fetch or send new e-mail.

This question asks about more or less the same thing, except it’s for OS X Mail, which works quite differently from iOS Mail, and it is about a permanently defunct mail address, whereas this question is about an account which will hopefully be online again at some point in the not too distant future.

Googling this, I found hundreds of tutorials on how to set up and remove e-mail accounts (I know how to do both; neither is what I’m looking for), but nothing useful.

The closest I got was a site telling me to uncheck the “Mail” option in the account settings. While this does indeed stop Mail from trying to connect to the server, it also completely wipes the account from the Mail app, deleting every trace of the account’s inbox and folders, which rather defeats the purpose. (In another case of shockingly bad UX, it does this without any kind of warning, meaning I’ve now already irreversibly lost all e-mails in this account on one phone – thankfully the one I don’t use much.)

Is there no way to tell Mail to stop trying in vain to sync this account, but not change anything else?

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MS Exchange is a system not too different from the way IMAP works: most of the mail is kept on the server and generally only recent mail and/or headers are kept on the local PC.

You can keep your mail but it is a bit of a work-around. Essentially you need to create a bunch of new mailboxes that mirror your folders on your Exchange account. You would go to

Mailbox > New Mailbox... > Location > On my Mac

Give the folder a name and repeat for any other folders you want to save, making sure that when you create the new folder it is "On my Mac"

Once that is done, open the Folders of the Exchange mailboxes one at a time, select all the emails (Command A) and drag them to the correspondingly named folder you just created. repeat for all folders.

Remember that Exchange may not have downloaded the whole email and you may just be dragging the email headers from one mailbox to another. Without a connection to the Exchange server that is the best you can do.

Now you could delete that account without fear of losing your email.

It is possible to get an archive of your email account, assuming the Exchange server admin is willing to or allowed to do so. On an Exchange server you can export a mailbox or whole email account to a PST file. Once you have the PST file you can use Outlook for the Mac (or a free conversion utility) to open the PST file and view your old emails.

  • This appears to be geared towards MacOS, rather than iOS. I have no problems on my Mac where Mail just displays an error icon next to the account name but doesn’t ask for a password all the time; it’s only on an iPhone I have this problem, and “On my Mac”- and PST-based solutions won’t work there as far as I am aware. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 13 at 19:40
  • Yah you are pretty much out of luck on your iPhone, unless you want to try a utility that can explore an iPhone backup, it is unlikely you will get much of anything off the phone or turn off the annoying password prompts. – Steve Chambers Aug 13 at 19:54

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