Folders from a webmail client appear in the left-hand column in the Mail app. Their content is updated whenever the Mail app is connected to internet.

I understand that the downloaded mails are locally stored, as one still can access them in the Mail app while it is not connected to internet.

However, once the associated webmail account is deleted, will these mails still be accessible in the local Mail app? Or will their content be removed automatically?

  • 1
    What do you mean by "once the associated webmail account becomes inactive"?
    – Thinkr
    Jun 11, 2023 at 17:14
  • @Thinkr When the account is deleted (for instance school/professional mail account).
    – Karlo
    Jun 13, 2023 at 17:24
  • 1
    Is deleted from the device or deleted completely?
    – Thinkr
    Jun 13, 2023 at 17:25
  • 1
    Normally, no. I think the best practice in this case is just to save all you emails to one place (local) and see what happens when your account gets deleted. Just tell me if you're insterested in how to do this, I'll elaborate.
    – Thinkr
    Jun 13, 2023 at 17:31
  • 1
    First, select the wanted email (so, everything). To do this, go to Mail app, hold the shift key and click the first conversation/message at the top of your inbox. Without releasing the shift key, scroll down to the bottom of your inbox and select the very last conversation/message. This will select all emails in your inbox. Then, in the menu bar, click on File > Save As and choose the wanted format (Rich text format keeps email formatting). Repeat those steps with every mailbox in Mail app, you'll get all your emails saved to your Mac.
    – Thinkr
    Jun 14, 2023 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


However, once the associated webmail account becomes inactive, will these mails still be accessible in the local Mail app? Or will their content be removed automatically?

It depends.

First, Webmail basically the same thing as your Mail app. It’s just the client that is used to access a mail server. In the case of webmail, it’s a mail client hosted by someone (usually the owner of the mail server) rather than something running on your local computer. One very common one is OWA or Outook Web Access. The Gmail web client is basically the same thing.

Email Server Types

There are two email server types: POP3 and IMAP. The POP (Post Office Protocol) will allow you to download message while retaining a copy on the server whereas IMAP (Internet Mail Access Protocol) is server based and you only temporarily cache the mail locally.

If you are using POP to access your mail, you’ll have it locally. If you are using IMAP and connect to the server after it has disabled/deleted your mailboxes, you will lose all of your cached mail because it would have synchronized those changes.

Backup/Copy Mail to local folders

If you’re using IMAP (most likely you are), then you need to create local folders to which you copy your mail you wish to have access to. Since these local folders are not part of the server, if your mailbox is disabled/deleted, it won’t affect those messages.

  • I am using IMAP. When disconnected from the internet, an "offline" symbol is shown next to [my mailaddress], and the folders belonging to it become gray, but their contents are still accessible. When reconnecting, they become black again and are synchronized. -> Anyways, I conclude from your answer that they will be deleted once the mailbox account is disabled/deleted?
    – Karlo
    Jun 25, 2023 at 16:30
  • In the same column, there is a category On my Mac, with local folders remaining black while not connected to the internet. -> Your solution is thus to copy/move folders with mails that were under [my mailaddress] to [On my Mac], did I understand correctly?
    – Karlo
    Jun 25, 2023 at 16:34
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    That is correct. The folders that “become gray” contain cached mail items and you’ll have access to them until the next synchronization. When your mailbox is disabled/deleted, it will tell your client to “remove the content” at which point you won’t have your mail any more. But, if you move them to the folders “On My Mac”, the server has no control there and thus cannot remove your mail.
    – Allan
    Jun 25, 2023 at 16:57
  • OK! And a last question: what about the mails in the inbox? Is it correct that the mails from the soon-to-be-deleted (web)mail account just remain there, the only difference being that no further new mail will be received once the account becomes inactive? Or should I also move them to a folder under On my Mac?
    – Karlo
    Jun 28, 2023 at 11:07
  • “Soon” to be deleted is just a folder where a rule is run daily to purge mail (usually) over 30 days old. Once the account us disabled, any folder that originates on the server will become insccessible
    – Allan
    Jun 28, 2023 at 14:13

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