Mac OS X Mailboxes/Preferences - The unofficial Mail for Mac OS X FAQ

Quick Tips
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Tip #1 Nestled Folders - I did it by:


Tip #2 Mail account passwords - When I open Mail I am prompted to enter my password for all of my mail accounts. How can I fix this?

Try re-entering your passwords. They are stored in the Mail menu, then Preferences..., then select the Accounts button. Click on a account description that is giving you trouble, then click on the Edit button. Enter your password under the password field and the SMTP password fields (if they already have something in them).


Run Keychain Access (under the Applications/Uilities). You have the option to delete or edit the individual keychain entries.

Keychain Access

Mailboxes / Preferences Q&A
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Q. Is there anyway for Mail to actually initiate a dialup connection? And better yet, if it opened it, close it when it's done?

A. This is handled in the Network Prefs panel, PPP tab.

Q. What does that little red number on the Mail icon indicate?

A. It indicates how many new messages you have. It only counts your default inbox. (Usually your IMAP account)

Q. I am using three email accounts in When I click compose, the message defaults to sending from an account that is not my primary email. I have to manually select my preferred account. I can't find a setting for "use this account as default" as in OE or Entourage.

A. The first account you defined is your default. Drag another account to the top of the list (you can do this in the drawer also) if you want another to be your default.

Q. Mail can get pretty unresponsive when its caching or indexing a mail box. Any way in its current form to improve this situation?

A. If you open the Activity Viewer from the Window menu, that will let you know what background activities are taking place. Whenever you open a mailbox, it will trigger caching (if it's never been cached) and indexing (after the caching has finished). A first time user may do a lot of clicking around and opening large (imported) mailboxes, spawning a lot of caching threads. So, this may become less problematic over time.

If you are using IMAP (if you have a account set-up, it's IMAP), you can change your caching preference to Cache When Read (the default is Cache All Messages). This preference is in the Account Options tab of Account prefs in Mail. This will cause only the headers to be downloaded, and the full messages will be loaded only when you click on them. Some people prefer this setting. The downside is that if you are offline, you may want to read a message that has not been cached locally yet.

Q. It seems I can't email out through my SMTP server. Every attempt ends in a "NULL" error dialog box. Mailing with the same configuration through Entourage in Classic works fine. My account works fine. It's just my personal email SMTP server that generates this error.

A. Does your SMTP server use authenticated SMTP? It could be that Mail doesn't support the type of authentication that your ISP is using (we support AUTH PLAIN LOGIN only).

Q. Is there any way to view by date but group the subjects?

A. If you sort by date first, then by subject, this should get you what you want.

Q. I have a POP account nested under my Personal Mailboxes Mailbox. I want to add a "Saved" section under that. How do I do that? The only option I see is to create another folder under Personal Mailboxes.

A. When you display accounts separately in the drawer, you are essentially mirroring what's on the server. Since you cannot create mailboxes on a POP server, that's why there is this restriction. You can configure your POP Inbox to be in Personal Mailboxes (in the Account Options tab of Account Preferences).

Q. Is there any way to delete mail off of a server when using a POP account? I noticed that when you create a POP account you have the option of deleting mail after downloading, but was wondering if there is a hidden option to delete mail later on after you read it.

A. No, there is not.

Q. Is there any way to change the quoting character to a '>' sign? I don't like the '|' bar at all.

A. Pull down the Mail menu, select Preferences. When the preferences window pops up, there is an "icon" list along the left side to select a pane for different groups of settings. If you scroll down, you'll find one that says "Quoting". Enter whatever quote character you want.

Q. I started using IMAP, then I decided I was a bit worried about space. How much space am I allowed for my mail address? How do I check the size of my IMAP mailbox from Mail?

A. 5MB for a mailbox. You can archive email you want to save in your Personal Mailboxes. If you don't connect to your account from multiple locations, you could just file all your email locally in your Personal Mailboxes. To check the size - select View->Show Message Sizes. The total size of a given mailbox will appear in the text line below the toolbar.

Q. I would like to share two mail accounts in one mailbox. Each mail account has their own home directory (Macintosh HD\Users\<username>).

A. It's not really something Mail would have the power to solve. This deals with sharing of data between user spaces (i.e. permissions). I suppose you could store your Mail data in /Users/Public and share it?

In setting these accounts up on my computer, I found that Mail doesn't follow an alias. So then I went to the terminal and used the ln command in the form 'ln -s <source dir> <target dir>' and this appears to work. I just linked the mailboxes(eg a link from ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes to /Users/Shared/Mailboxes) and not the accounts themselves. This solves the multiple mail account question.

Q. Will Mail access an LDAP server on a Windows NT4 LAN?

A. Apple is aware of some incompatibilities with specific LDAP servers and Apple is working to address them in a future release.

Q. What is IMAP? Why should people use it in lieu of the reliable, lo these many years, POP3?

A. This'll get you started:

Q. Can I setup Mail to delete mail from the server when I empty the Deleted Messages mailbox?

A. If you use a POP mailbox you have the option to delete mail after downloading it. (Select Mail menu, then Preferences... Select the mailbox and press the Edit button. Click on the "Account Options" tab. Check "Delete messages on server after downloading".) If you don't use that option, the mail will reside on the mail server and Mail will not download another copy of it.

If you use an IMAP mailbox, my understanding is - it will delete the messages after downloading them.

Q. Trying to get used to this new mail app. One thing that's really bothering me, is that I've got an iMap account with my ISP, and the is showing me ALL the files in my home directory on the mail server. So I'm seeing things like my .bash_history files, and .ncftp pref files and a whole bunch of other stuff. They all show up as different email boxes.

A. The problem here is that this particular server requires that the client specify a path to the mail folder rather than just intelligently pointing the client to your mail folder. In any event, there's nothing that can be done to 'fix' this in the current version of Mail.

Q. Is there a way to make Mail stop sending my mail immediatly? I connect to the Internet through a dial up when I am on the road and need to compose all of my mail to be sent later?

A. Yes you can!

- Go offline (Under Mailbox menu)
- Compose your new mail or reply to existing mail
- Save as Draft instead of Sending

Once you areconnected to the Internet:
- Go online (Under Mailbox menu)
- Manually Restore From Draft
- Send

Q. Anybody know how to make Mail stop maximizing when another application is closed? Whenever I quit the last application running, except Mail, Mail automatically maximizes itself. Is there any way to turn this off?

A. The issue here is that when there are no Mail windows open and a user clicks on the Mail icon in the Dock, we believe that opening a viewer window is the right thing to do (Steve Jobs himself ran into this problem during the first Mail demo in Jan 2000). The problem you're seeing is that when you have Mail in the foreground, then launch application B, then quit application B, control returns to Mail and it reacts as if you had clicked on the Dock icon.

Back to Mail Mac OS X FAQ page

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