How to Recover Deleted Emails on Mac Mail App

Usually, you will find your Apple Mail application cache located in ~/Library/Mail/. However, after upgrading to macOS 10.13 High Sierra, users have noticed that their Mail folder had vanished. A quick search on Apple discussions and other forums shows that this has become a common problem for many users. It also shows that offered solutions don’t seem to work for everyone.

In other words, users are facing the same problem for different reasons, and finding a suitable solution is, apparently, not an easy task. This article will show a compilation of ways to deal with the dreaded mail issue. If you face the need to restore the lost mailbox, try out provided resolutions to find the one that suits your situation. And despite available fixes, make sure to pay attention to regular backups and data recovery to prevent similar issues from reoccurring.

Set Preferences to Restore Email Account Folders

At times, the issue can be minor such as when all folders associated with your iCloud are not showing in mailbox anymore, but they are listed under ‘Get Account Info.’ In this case, re-enabling a single setting in Preferences can work wonders, or at least it worked for some users. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Mail app and go to Mail in the menu bar.
  2. Choose Preferences and switch to Account settings tab.
  3. Uncheck ‘Enable this account’ and then re-enable it again.
  4. Go back to Mail to see whether the issue has been resolved.

email accounts

Unfortunately, fixing the problem is not always as easy. In case this solution didn’t put the folders back in place, read on for other methods to deal with the issue.

Email Disappeared from Mac Mail? Re-index Mailboxes

The Preferences trick is not going to help the cause in case your email accounts were working fine, but mailboxes have disappeared. This exact issue had been largely discussed on Apple forums as users were clearly not happy to lose their mailboxes with all data stored there. Another method suggested as a resolution to the issue is mailbox reindexing. Follow the steps listed below to launch this process:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Spotlight.
  3. Switch to Privacy tab.
  4. Drag-and-drop the Mail folder located in ~/Library/Mail/
  5. Select the folder and click ‘-‘ to remove the folder and initiate re-indexing.

Re-index Mailboxes

If re-indexing didn’t put back your mailboxes, then you can try rebuilding them using a different setting. To this end:

  1. Open Apple Mail.
  2. Click on Mailbox in the menu bar.
  3. Choose Rebuild at the very bottom of the list.

On rare occasions, even rebuilding mailboxes won’t get back the messages you’ve lost. In such case, you are left with the final option.

Restore Mail from Time Machine

Backups are your ultimate way of ensuring that your data is safe regardless of what kind of issues you’re running into. When all else fails and neither of the methods above helps restore your lost data, then Time Machine recovery should help get things back in place. This method will have you manually copy backed up version of mail cache and set correct permissions to get Mail to recognize the change. A detailed guide on how to manually recover Mail folder from Time Machine can be found here.

It is worth noting that manual Mail recovery from a Time Machine backup is not exactly what you call ‘newbie-friendly’. In situations when you don’t have any irreplaceable third-party app data or mail messages are of more value than the data, you can perform an entire system restoration from a backup. Yet you have to understand what is at stake because depending on the backup date, you may neither be able to recover the needed mail nor keep third-party app data. In general, if you are unsure of what you’re doing it’s best to seek help from a professional.