I have local rules on my Mac to move emails from certain people into their own local folders, and sound a unique alert. The problem is that it appears that moving it causes it to be deleted from iCloud's IMAP server, and therefore not delivered to my iOS devices.

When I changed the rule to copy rather than move, I'm left with duplicate emails in the local Inbox folder (not surprisingly).

I tried creating iCloud Mail folders and using iCloud Mail rules to move certain emails into those folders. That's fine, except that I can't sound the alert: it appears that Mac Mail rules only apply to mail coming directly into the Inbox. (Also, only iCloud Inbox items get 'pushed' -- the mail in my JohnDoe folder can only be retrieved when Mac Mail polls every N minutes.)

I'm new to IMAP, so I may have missed the solution. Can anyone suggest how, using iCloud Mail, I can:

  • See the same email in my Mac and all my iOS devices
  • Automatically route certain email to special folders and sound an alert, at least on the Mac

Thanks- Chap

  • Have you looked into Smart Folders? They should do the trick as they sort of tag the emails that fit the criteria, creates a folder for the tags and keeps the emails in place - does not create any duplicates.
    – Emil
    Mar 18, 2012 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


From what I read, you actually are almost there. It looks like your problem may be how the folders are done (as in, locally or on the server).

As you said in your answer, you copy the emails to local folders, so therefore they would never be on your phone. And with iCloud's limited rules (in the cloud), as you note, you cant really make a sound or do much with them either.

As long as your Mac is always running (to run the rules), you really would only need to update your local mail rules to put the emails in the servers folders. This way if you are at your computer, you would hear the audio cues, as well as have the mail filtered. If you step away, as long as your Mac could still process the mail, it will copy the emails to the correct server folders, and be available.

On your Mac now, you should see two inboxes, iCloud and 'On My Mac'. Make sure folders exist under the iCloud account for where these messages should go. Then update your rules to point to the iCloud account folders, versus those on your mac.

The only thing you may see from this is some messages will be in your inbox for a very short period of time (before your Mac runs its rules), versus iClouds server side rules that process mail before its delivered.


As said in: https://superuser.com/questions/113226/apple-mail-only-applies-rules-once-when-message-arrives

To apply rules to messages you’ve already received, select the messages in the viewer window and then choose Message > Apply Rules.

You can select one email or All (⌘A) and then click ⌥⌘L (option+command+L) and all rules may be applied.


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