How to Rebuild & Reindex Mailboxes in Mac Mail

rebuild mailbox in mac
Mac Mail or Apple Mail app is the in-built email client of Mac computer with OS X 10.0 or higher. This efficient and user-friendly service lets the Mac users manage multiple IMAP, Exchange, or iCloud email accounts. Unlike other web-mails such as Gmail or Outlook mails, the user can access the emails of Mac Mail in offline mode. It is made possible by the local storage of messages and attachments (photos, videos, PDF and Office files, etc.) in the Mac machine. As the number of emails increases, the mailboxes start to bloat and display some errors in operation. It may include unresponsiveness of the app, difficulty in finding relevant messages, or garbled inbox. In such scenarios, the Mac Mail app has the inbuilt options of rebuilding and re-indexing the mailboxes to rectify the problems. These processes first delete the mails of the targeted mailbox from the local storage space and then download everything again from the online servers. In this article, we will guide you through the step by step process of rebuilding and re-indexing your Mac mail.

Things to Consider before Rebuilding and Re-indexing Your Mac Mail

You are probably thinking of rebuilding or re-indexing due to the problems mentioned in the introduction. In that case, consider the following steps before performing either rebuilding or re-indexing.

If you are missing some important messages, then check your rules and blocked contacts in your Mail. The rules may send your messages to a different mailbox, and the block option will stop the messages from a particular person or group.
Delete the emails from the “Delete” and “Spam” folder. Also, delete the unwanted emails to free up your storage space on Mac. It will provide space for incoming messages.
Update your Mac Mail app to its latest version.

If the problem persists after following these steps, then proceed to rebuild your mailbox.

How to Rebuild Mailboxes in Mac Mail

The rebuilding of a particular mailbox in Mac Mail will delete all the messages and its related information from the inbox and then re-download them from the servers of the Mac Mail. To perform the task, follow these steps.

  1. Double click on the Mac Mail icon on your screen to open it.
  2. Select the “Go” menu from the menu bar at the top.
  3. A drop-down menu will appear. Click on the “Applications” sub-menu from the drop-down.
  4. In the applications window, double click on the “Mail” option. It will bring up the different mailboxes on the left side of the window.
  5. Select the mailbox that you want to rebuild from the list of mailboxes such as all mail, chats, and drafts, and so on.

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If you cannot see the mailbox list on your sidebar, then click on the main menu of the window. Under the main menu, choose the “view” option. From the drop-down menu, select the “show mailbox list.” It will bring the list on your screen. Now continue with the following steps:

  1. After choosing the mailbox that you want to rebuild, go to the “mailbox” menu on the top menu bar.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select the “rebuild” option at the bottom.
  3. Your Mac Mail will start deleting the locally stored information of the target mailbox and re-download them from the servers. During the process, the mailbox will appear empty. However, you can check the progress of the activity by clicking on the “window” menu and then selecting “activity.” The system will take some time to complete the task depending upon the amount of information in the mailbox.
  4. After completion of the rebuild process, click on another mailbox and then reselect the mailbox that you have rebuilt just now. It will show all the messages that are downloaded for the servers. You can also perform this last step by restarting your Mac Mail.

If your problem persists even after rebuilding your mailbox, then you need to manually re-index it to get rid of the problem. The Mac Mail is designed to automatically perform the re-indexing task, whenever it detects some problem with the mailboxes. However, a manual re-indexing of the same is always recommended.

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How to Manually Re-index Mailboxes in Mac Mail

Follow these simple steps to manually Re-index your erroneous mailbox:

  1. If your app is already open, then go to the “Mail Menu” on the menu bar at the top of your app window. From the drop-down menu, select “quit mail” from the bottom of the list.
  2. Now, click on the “Go” menu from the menu bar and select “Go to folder” option. It will display a pop-up window on your screen.
  3. On the pop-up window, type ~/Library/Mail/V2/Mail Data and click on the “Go” option below it. A new window with all the mail data files will appear on your screen.
  4. From the list of mail files, select the files whose name starts with the “Envelope Index”. First, copy these files on a new folder on your computer and then right-click on them. Choose the “Move to trash” option for the selected files.
  5. Again, select the “Go” menu from the menu bar and select “Applications” from the drop-down menu.
  6. Now double click on the “Mail” option and click on “continue” on the pop-up window. At this point, the Mac Mail app will create a new “Envelope Index” files to replace the ones that you have deleted.
  7. Just like the last step of rebuilding, the final stage of re-indexing will also take some time to re-download the mails to your mailbox. The total time taken will depend on the amount of information associated with that targeted mailbox.
  8. Now, re-launch the mail app to access the messages of the re-indexed mailbox.

If everything works out perfectly, then you can delete the original “Envelope Index” files that you have saved on your device.

Bonus Tips: How to Speed up Mail on Mac in One-click

As the Mail app is full of messages, it will run slower and slower. If you just want to sort those messages out and re-organize your Mail database to make the Mail app run faster, you can try Mac Cleaner, which is a powerful software to make your Mac clean, fast and safe. You can follow the steps below to speed up your Mail.
Try It Free

  1. Download and install Mac Cleaner on your Mac.
  2. Launch Mac Cleaner, and select the “Maintenance” tab.
  3. Select the “Speed up Mail” and then click “Run”.

reindex mac spotlight
After seconds, your Mail app will be rebuilt and you can get rid of the poor performance.

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In most of the problems, the rebuilding and re-indexing of the target mailbox will solve the problem. And if it does not, then reach out to the customer service wing of the Mac Mail app. Their highly qualified and experienced tech experts will be able to help you to rectify the problem.
Try It Free