Apple Mail Not Working Featured Image

Apple Mail Not Working: 13 Quick Ways to Fix It

Written by

Reviewed by

Last updated: October 16, 2023

Expert verified

SVG Image


To fix Apple Mail not working on Mac, try a combination of software updates, connection checks, and mailbox maintenance.

Sometimes, simply removing and re-adding email accounts can refresh the connection and resolve potential conflicts or authentication problems.

Key Points

  • Apple Mail issues can arise from software glitches, outdated versions, internet connection disruptions, server issues, and incorrect settings.
  • Updating your macOS and Mail app can resolve many common glitches and improve overall performance.
  • Regular tasks like rebuilding your mailbox, cleaning up attachments, and reindexing envelope files can enhance Mail’s functionality and fix prevalent issues.
  • Booting your Mac in Safe Mode can help identify conflicts caused by third-party software or extensions.

Ever been in the middle of a crucial email when Apple Mail decides to play hide and seek? Frustrating, right? While Apple Mail is a favorite for many, it’s not without quirks.

But here’s a silver lining: for every glitch, there’s a fix waiting to be discovered. So, dive into this guide, packed with quick-fire solutions, and fix the Apple Mail not working issue. Let’s get started!

Before We Begin

It’s annoying when an app, like Apple Mail, stops working on your Mac. To keep things running smoothly, using cleaning tools like MacKeeper regularly is a good idea. With its Memory Cleaner, you can clear your Mac’s RAM to keep it running without lag and prevent apps from crashing or not working.

What Are the Most Common Apple Mail Problems?

Apple Mail, while reliable for the most part, can sometimes present challenges. Here are some of the most common Apple Mail problems:

  1. 📭 Mail App Won’t Open: The application refuses to launch or opens to a blank screen.
  2. ❄️ Mail is Frozen and Unresponsive: The app doesn’t respond to user input.
  3. 🐢 Mail is Slow: Performance issues leading to poor app performance.
  4. 💥 Mail Crashes: The app might close unexpectedly or freeze.
  5. 📧 Unable to Send or Receive Emails: Sometimes, emails get stuck in the outbox and won’t send. Similarly, you might find your inbox not updating or missing new emails.
  6. 🔒 Login Issues: You might be repeatedly asked to enter your password or face authentication errors.
  7. 🔄 Synchronization Problems: Changes made on one device might not reflect on another.
  8. 🔍 Search Not Working: The search function might not return expected results or any results at all.
  9. 📁 Missing Mailboxes or Folders: Some folders or entire mailboxes might disappear.
  10. 🚫 Junk Mail Filter Issues: Legitimate emails might be sent to the junk folder, or spam emails might not be filtered correctly.
  11. 📎 Attachment Issues: Problems with downloading or viewing attachments.
  12. 💾 Database Corruption: This can lead to various issues, including missing emails or app crashes.
  13. 📡 Connection Errors: Errors connecting to the mail server, especially with third-party email providers.
  14. 📑 Duplicate Emails: Receiving the same email multiple times.
  15. 🤖 Issues with Smart Mailboxes: Smart mailboxes not updating or filtering emails correctly.
  16. 🪲 Interface Glitches: Visual bugs like overlapping text or missing buttons.

Why Is Your Apple Mail Not Working?

When Apple Mail isn’t working as expected, it can be due to various reasons. Here are some potential culprits for your Apple Mail not working on Mac:

  1. 🐞 Software Glitches: Sometimes, minor bugs or glitches in the macOS or iOS can affect the Mail app’s functionality.
  2. 🔄 Outdated Software: Running an outdated macOS version or Mail app can lead to compatibility and performance issues.
  3. 📡 Internet Connection Issues: A weak or unstable internet connection can prevent Mail from sending or receiving messages.
  4. 🌐 Server Issues: A problem with your email provider’s server can disrupt Mail’s ability to fetch or send emails.
  5. ⚙️ Incorrect Settings: If Mail settings (like incoming or outgoing server details) are incorrectly configured, it can hinder its operation.
  6. 📭 Full Mailbox: If your email account’s storage is full, you might not be able to receive new emails.
  7. 💾 Corrupted Mail Database: Over time, the Mail app’s database can become corrupted, leading to various issues.
  8. 🔒 Login or Authentication Errors: Changes in your email account’s password or security settings can lead to login issues.
  9. 📎 Issues with Attachments: Large or unsupported file types can cause sending or opening emails to fail.
  10. 📲 Synchronization Issues: If you’re using multiple devices, synchronization problems can arise, leading to discrepancies in your mail across devices.

Identifying the root cause of the problem is the first step toward resolving it. Once identified, most of these issues can be fixed with troubleshooting, settings adjustments, or software updates.

First Things First

Before diving into advanced troubleshooting, you might want to try quick fixes for Apple Mail not working. Here are some basic troubleshooting steps to get Mail working again:

a. Check Your Internet Connection

Many Apple Mail issues stem from a lack of stable internet connectivity, as the app relies heavily on it to send, receive, and synchronize emails. By ensuring your internet connection is active, you can eliminate one of the most common culprits behind Mail malfunctions.

Here’s how:

  1. Look at the Wi-Fi icon on the top right of your Mac. If it’s grayed out, you’re not connected.
click the wi fi icon in the menu bar
  1. Try connecting to a different Wi-Fi network or use an Ethernet cable.
  2. Visit a website in a browser to see if it loads. If not, the issue might be with your internet connection.

b. Restart Your Mac

Restarting your Mac can act as a reset button, clearing out minor glitches and freeing up system resources. A simple reboot can often resolve unexpected behaviors and refresh the system, making apps like Apple Mail run more smoothly.

Here’s how to restart your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Restart from the dropdown menu.
click the apple icon and select restart
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down and turn on. Log in and check if Mail works.

c. Check Apple Servers

Apple’s servers play a crucial role in iCloud-based services, including Apple Mail. By checking the status of Apple’s servers, you can determine if external issues are causing your Mail app problems.

Here’s how:

  1. Visit Apple’s System Status page.
  2. Look for any outages or issues related to iCloud Mail.
icloud mail status on system status page
  1. If there’s a problem, you might need to wait until Apple resolves it.

d. Free Up Your Mac’s RAM

Your Mac’s RAM is essential for smooth app performance, including Apple Mail. Ensuring sufficient free RAM can prevent slowdowns and crashes, allowing Mail and other apps to operate without hitches.

Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner to free up RAM on your Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Open MacKeeper and click Memory Cleaner under the Performance tab.
select memory cleaner under performance
  1. Click Open.
click open in the memory cleaner
  1. Click Clean Memory.
click clean memory
  1. It will clean your Mac and free up available memory. You can see how much memory it freed under Last Cleanup.
memory cleaned after a cycle

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides freeing up RAM on your Mac, MacKeeper can perform various system optimization tasks, like deleting duplicate files, removing unwanted apps, and stopping annoying ads on Mac. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to learn more about its amazing features.

How to Fix the Apple Mail Not Working Issue

Navigating Apple Mail issues can be daunting, but most problems can be resolved efficiently with the right steps. In the following sections, I’ll share different solutions to fix your Apple Mail not working issue.

1. Open Mail From the Applications Folder

Accessing Apple Mail directly from the Applications folder can bypass potential issues with shortcuts or the Dock. This method ensures you’re launching the app from its primary location, eliminating discrepancies.

Follow these steps to open the Mail app from the Applications folder:

  1. Click the Finder icon in your Mac’s Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. In the Finder sidebar on the left, click Applications.
click applications in the left sidebar
  1. Scroll through the list of applications until you find Mail. It will have a postage stamp icon.
  2. Double-click the Mail icon to open the application.
double click the mail app in applications

2. Check Your Connections With Connection Doctor

The Connection Doctor in Apple Mail is a built-in tool designed to diagnose and troubleshoot connection issues with your email accounts. It provides insights into problems between the Mail app and the email server.

Here’s how to check your connections with Connection Doctor on Mac:

  1. Launch the Mail app from your Applications folder or Dock if it isn’t already open.
open the mail app from the dock
  1. Click Window in the menu bar and choose Connection Doctor.
click window and select connection doctor
  1. The Connection Doctor will display the status of your email accounts. Green indicators mean the connection is healthy, while red indicates a problem.
connection doctor displaying the status of your email accounts
  1. If there are issues, the Connection Doctor will provide more information about the nature of the problem, helping you pinpoint the cause.
  2. Based on the feedback, take the necessary steps to resolve the connection issues. This might involve checking your internet connection, verifying server settings, or re-entering passwords.

3. Quit or Force Quit the Mail App

Sometimes, the simplest solution to an unresponsive or malfunctioning Mail app is to quit and relaunch it. If the Mail app is unresponsive, you might need to force quit.

Follow these steps to quit or force quit the Mail App:

  1. If the Mail app is responsive, click Mail in the menu bar.
  2. Select Quit Mail from the dropdown menu.
click mail and select quit mail
  1. If the Mail app is unresponsive, press the Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + Escape keys simultaneously to open the Force Quit Applications window.
macbook pro option command esc
  1. Locate Mail in the list of running applications.
  2. Select the Mail app and click the Force Quit button.
select mail in force quit window and click force quit
  1. Confirm your decision if prompted.
click force quit on the prompt
  1. After quitting, wait a few moments and reopen the Mail app to see if the issue is resolved.

Force quitting should be used as a last resort when the app is entirely unresponsive, as it can lead to unsaved changes being lost.

4. Update the Mail App and macOS

Updating your software ensures you benefit from the latest features, security patches, and bug fixes. If Apple Mail is acting up, an update might be the solution.

Here’s how to update your macOS and the Mail app:

  1. Click the Apple logo and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update. This will check for updates available for your macOS and its built-in apps, including Mail.
click general and select software update
  1. If there’s an update available for Mail or macOS, it will be listed here.
  2. Click Update Now to begin the update process. Follow any on-screen instructions.
click the update now button
  1. Some updates might require a restart. Ensure you save any work before proceeding.

5. Merge and Close Windows

If you have multiple Mail windows open, it can sometimes confuse or even lead to minor glitches. Merging and organizing your windows can streamline your workspace and potentially resolve display issues.

Here’s how to merge and close windows in the Mail app:

  1. Launch the Mail app from your Applications folder or Dock if it isn’t already open.
open the mail app from the dock
  1. Look at your screen to see if multiple Mail windows or tabs are open.
  2. To merge all windows, click Window in the menu bar and select Merge All Windows. This will combine all open Mail windows into a single window with tabs.
click window and select merge all windows
  1. Within the merged window, you can close any unnecessary tabs by clicking the small x on the left side of each tab.
  2. Once organized, select Inbox in the left sidebar to refresh and check if the Mail app is working properly.

6. Rebuild Your Mailbox

Over time, the database of your Apple Mail can become cluttered or even corrupted, leading to various issues. Rebuilding your mailbox can rectify these problems by reindexing and regenerating the mailbox data. Rebuilding can restore missing emails, fix synchronization problems, and fix the Apple Mail not working issue.

Follow these steps to rebuild your mailbox:

  1. Launch the Mail app from your Dock.
  2. In the left sidebar, click the mailbox that seems to be causing issues or the one you wish to rebuild.
  3. In the menu bar, click Mailbox and select Rebuild.
click mailbox and select rebuild
  1. Rebuilding can take some time, especially if you have a large mailbox. You’ll see a progress bar at the bottom of the Mail window. Wait for it to complete.
  2. Once the rebuild process is finished, refresh your Mail app and check if the issues have been resolved.

7. Reset Your Mail App Preferences

If you’re facing persistent issues with Apple Mail, resetting the app preferences can be a more drastic but effective solution. This process involves returning the app to its default settings, which can resolve deeper-rooted problems.

Here’s how to reset your Mail app preferences:

  1. Ensure the Mail app is completely closed. If it’s open, click Mail in the menu bar and select Quit Mail.
click mail and select quit mail
  1. Click the Finder icon in your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. Hold down the Option ⌥ key, click the Go menu in the menu bar, and select Library.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. Within the Library, find and open the Preferences folder.
open the preferences folder
  1. Find the file named and move it to the Bin. This will reset your Mail preferences.
move the com apple mail plist file to the bin
  1. Open the Mail app again. You might need to reconfigure some settings or add email accounts afresh.
  2. After resetting, check if the problems you were facing have been resolved.

Remember, resetting the Mail app might mean you’ll have to set up certain preferences again.

8. Disable Your Email Accounts

Temporarily disabling your email accounts can help diagnose issues specific to one account or its connection with the Mail app. This step can be especially useful if you suspect a particular account is causing the Mail app to malfunction.

Here’s how to disable your email accounts:

  1. Open Mail and navigate to Mail > Settings via the menu bar.
click mail and select settings
  1. Click the Accounts tab.
click the accounts tab in mail settings
  1. Choose an email account from the left panel and uncheck the box next to Enable this account.
select an email account and uncheck the enable this account box
  1. Do this for all the email accounts you have linked.
  2. Restart Mail, revisit this section, and reactivate the accounts by checking the boxes.

By selectively disabling and testing each email account, you can pinpoint potential issues and decide on the best action to resolve them.

9. Remove and Re-add Your Email Accounts

If disabling your email accounts doesn’t resolve the issue, you may have to remove and re-add your accounts. Removing and re-adding email accounts can refresh the connection and resolve potential conflicts or authentication problems.

Here’s how to delete and re-add email accounts:

  1. Open Mail and select Mail > Accounts from the menu bar.
click mail and select accounts
  1. Pick an email account in the right panel.
select google in the right pane of internet accounts
  1. To disable the email account, toggle off the Mail switch.
toggle off the mail switch
  1. This action will only unlink it from your Mac, not delete it entirely.
  2. If you want to delete the account, click the Delete Account button at the bottom.
click the delete account button
  1. Confirm your decision.
click ok to confirm your decision
  1. To re-add an account, click the Add Account button.
click the add account button in internet accounts
  1. Next, select an account and follow the on-screen instructions to reconnect the account.
select a new account to add

Remember to have your email account details, including passwords, on hand when re-adding accounts.

10. Check Mail Activity

The Mail Activity window provides real-time information about what the Mail app is currently processing. If emails are stuck or not syncing, checking the Mail Activity can give insights into what might be causing the delay.

Here’s how to check Mail activity:

  1. Launch the Mail app from your Applications folder or Dock.
  2. Click Window in the menu bar and select Activity.
click window and select activity
  1. A new ​​Activity window will appear.
  2. Here, you can see if any background processes are active. Mine showed nothing.
mail activity window

By monitoring the Mail Activity, you can get a clearer picture of what’s happening behind the scenes and address issues slowing down or disrupting your Apple Mail experience.

11. Clean Up Mail Attachments

Over time, email attachments can accumulate and take up significant storage space on your Mac. Regularly cleaning up these attachments can free up space, improve the performance of the Mail app, and potentially fix the Apple Mail not working issue.

Here’s how to clean up mail attachments on Mac:

  1. Launch the Mail app from your Applications folder or Dock.
  2. In the menu bar, click Message and select Remove Attachments.
click message and select remove attachments
  1. This will remove the attachments from the selected email but keep the email itself intact.

This action only removes the local copy of the attachment. The original attachment remains in the email server and can be downloaded again.

  1. After removing attachments, click Mailbox in the menu bar, hover your mouse over Erase Deleted Items, and select In All Accounts to free up the space.
click mailbox hover mouse over erase deleted items and select in all accounts
  1. Go through your emails, especially older ones or those with large attachments, and repeat the process as needed.

12. Remove and Reindex Envelope Files

The envelope files in Apple Mail are databases that index your emails, helping the app quickly search and organize your messages. If these files become corrupted or outdated, it can lead to various issues. Removing and allowing Mail to reindex these files can resolve such problems.

Follow these steps to remove and reindex envelope files:

  1. Ensure the Mail app is completely closed. If it’s open, click Mail in the top menu bar and select Quit Mail.
click mail and select quit mail
  1. Click the Finder icon in your Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. Hold down the Option ⌥ key, click the Go menu in the menu bar, and select Library.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. Within the Library, find and open the Mail folder.
open the mail folder in library
  1. Navigate to the Vx folder inside the Mail folder (where x is a number corresponding to your Mail version, e.g., V7, V8, V9, V10).
open the vx folder inside the mail folder
  1. Within this folder, find the MailData directory.
find the maildata directory in vx folder
  1. In the MailData directory, locate files that start with Envelope Index (e.g., Envelope Index, Envelope Index-shm, Envelope Index-wal).
locate files starting with envelope index
  1. Move these files to the Bin.
  2. Open the Mail app again. Mail will notice the missing envelope files on launch and reindex your emails. This process can take some time, especially if you have many emails.
  3. Once reindexing is complete, check if the problems you were facing have been resolved.

13. Test Mail in Safe Mode

Booting your Mac in Safe Mode can help diagnose issues by preventing certain software and drivers from loading. If Apple Mail works correctly in Safe Mode, it indicates the problem might be related to third-party software or extensions interfering with the app.

Here’s how to boot your Mac into Safe Mode:

On Apple Silicon Macs

  1. Click the Apple icon and choose Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down completely, and press the Power button to turn it on.
macbook air touch id
  1. Keep holding the Power button until you see the Loading startup options screen.
loading startup options screen on mac
  1. Select a volume from the options.
select a volume
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
macbook air shift key
  1. Your Mac will restart automatically, and you will see Safe Boot in the menu bar when the login screen appears.
safe boot mode on mac

On Intel-Based Macs

  1. Restart or turn on your Mac and press and hold the Shift ⇧ key immediately.
macbook air shift key
  1. Keep holding the Shift ⇧ key until you see the login screen.
  2. Release the Shift ⇧ key and log in to your Mac.
  3. You may be asked to log in again.
  4. You’ll see Safe Boot in the menu bar on your first or second login window.
safe boot mode on mac

If Mail works without issues in Safe Mode, consider checking for third-party software or extensions that might be causing conflicts. You might need to update, disable, or uninstall them to resolve the Mail app problems.

Get Your Apple Mail Working in No Time

Apple Mail not working on Mac can be frustrating, especially given the app’s integral role in our daily communications. However, with the quick fixes outlined above, you can easily address common Apple Mail problems.

Here are some more tips for you:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is my Apple Mail not syncing with my other devices?

    Your Apple Mail may not be syncing with your other devices due to internet connectivity problems, outdated software, or iCloud settings. Ensure all devices are connected to the internet, running the latest software, and have iCloud Mail enabled in settings.

  2. I’ve tried several fixes, but Apple Mail still crashes upon opening. What should I do?

    If you’ve tried several fixes but Apple Mail still crashes upon opening, consider testing it in Safe Mode to see if third-party software is causing conflicts. If it works in Safe Mode, you might need to identify and remove the conflicting software.

  3. How can I determine if the issue is with Apple Mail or my email service provider?

    To determine if the issue is with Apple Mail or your email service provider, check Apple’s System Status page for any reported outages. If Apple’s servers are running fine, consider logging into your email through a web browser to see if the issue persists there.

  4. Will I lose my emails if I remove and re-add my email account in Apple Mail?

    No, you will not lose your emails if you remove and re-add your email account in Apple Mail. This only disconnects it from the app. Your emails remain on the server, and when you re-add the account, they will be fetched again.

  5. How often should I update Apple Mail and macOS to prevent Mail issues?

    You should update Apple Mail and macOS whenever a new version is available to prevent Mail issues. Apple regularly releases updates to fix known bugs and improve performance. Keeping your software updated ensures optimal performance and fewer issues.

Hashir Ibrahim


I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.



Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

You May Also Like