Awhile back, I symlinked my ~/Library/Mail Downloads directory to ~/Downloads so that my email attachments would be downloaded to the same location that all my other applications download files to.

When I upgraded to Mountain Lion, I noticed that the Mail Downloads folder had been restored. So I deleted it and recreated the symlink the same way I did for previous versions of OS X.

Now, every time I try to download or quick-look an attachment in mail.app, I see the following error (might not be exact; translating from Spanish):

Mail was unable to save the attachment "..." to disk. Make sure that the downloads folder has write permissions.

Some of the fixes I have tried:

  • Making ~/Downloads world-writable.
  • Removing the symlink and re-creating the directory.
    • Making that directory world-writable.
  • Repairing permissions via Disk Utility.
  • Changing the location of the Downloads Folder preference for Mail.app to ~/Downloads.

How do I restore the functionality of my Mail Downloads folder (preferably so that it is symlinked to my home Downloads folder)?

  • Silly question: have you tried changing the "Downloads folder" preference in Mail.app? – jmk Mar 30 '13 at 4:44
  • lol That is a good point; I forgot about that. Unfortunately, changing the preference to my home downloads folder does not solve the issue (although perhaps it helps pinpoint the problem). I will update my question. – user5118 Mar 30 '13 at 13:50

Assuming Mountain Lion...

  1. Quit Mail

  2. Delete the ~/Library/Mail Downloads folder.

  3. Delete the ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail folder.

  4. Restart Mail

  5. Rebuild Mailboxes

  6. Set your Downloads folder in Mails preferences to ~/Downloads.

    Screenshot of Mail.app preferences dialog with downloads folder highlighted


  • Maybe just try to set the downloads folder directly in preferences before deleting com.apple.mail. – nohillside Apr 15 '13 at 12:11
  • Sweet. That did it. Thanks so much for your help! – user5118 Apr 15 '13 at 15:02

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