Explain this to me, folks. My e-mail program (it comes with the i-Mac) is downloading 7,133 e-mail messages dating from July 31. I’ve already received and deleted these messages, of course. What is going on? I haven’t done anything weird to my e-mail. Why is it being weird to me?

Update: It now says it’s downloading from 11,017 messages dating from July 30. I keep erasing; it keeps downloading the same messages. I tried changing my mail preferences to kill all messages on the server as soon as they’ve been downloaded; when I hit the “do it now” button, it crashes the mail program.

Update: Victory! My ISP killed all the e-mail, and the massacre seems to have worked. So far.

About Joanne


  1. There’s a setting on Macs that allows you to download a message, but save it on the server. This must have been engaged. If you just bought a new computer, the server will see a different computer and will allow you to download those messages a second time, or repeatedly. Go to “preferences” then “accounts”, then “edit account”, then “advanced” then click on the “erase messages on server” option.

  2. Mad Scientist says:

    That’s what you get for buying any apple product.

  3. You could have your email set for IMAP – which is protocal that typically leaves email on the server. Sometimes it will hiccup and forget what you have already downloaded. You could also have it set for POP – leave on server, and the same hiccup applies. If you are using POP for email, turn off the leave on server setting if you want to delete the emails. If you are using IMAP you should have an option somewhere to “delete from server when deleting locally.”

    Another band-aid option would be to log into your ISP’s webmail system and delete everything there. That will at least catch you up without downloading everything again.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Sorry, JJ, but you are a big girl now. Time to put away your childish ways and get a real computer. One with I***L inside.

  5. You might also discuss with your ISP why they’re letting so much spam through. Mine recently instituted a rather vigorous filtering program, and I’m down to less than one a day.

  6. D Anghelone says:

    I’ve had the same and it’s cleared only when I downloaded the email via WebMail. I don’t have a Mac but that likely doesn’t matter.

  7. Gee, Walter and Mad Scientist. You’d both like Joanne to get a “real” computer. Hmmm. You mean one that would leave her vulnerable to the endless security holes Windows provides? One that is subject to the thousands of viruses, trojan horses, spyware and other invasive problems available to Windows users?

    I’ve used a Mac. I’ve used Windows. I like to get work done without trying to bandage the endless boils and lesions delivered from Redmond. So I use a Mac whenever I can.

  8. Walter: What about those real computers with A*D inside? Or an U***aS***c?

    Personally, as a Computer Guy, who has used Windows since 2.x, MacOS since 6.x, and unix variants of various sorts, my reply is… “get over it”.

    If Joanne likes OSX, she should use it. She’s certainly no worse off than using win32/x86. (If you wish to tell her to use some version of Outlook, you can donate some cash so she can buy Office for OSX, right?)

  9. Hey, Joanne, did the *good* suggestions work? Is your problem better?

  10. JJ,

    It sounds like you probably want to make a few changes in the Mail app preferences.

    1. Choose Preferences from the Mail menu.
    2. Click the Accounts button.
    3. Select the mail account that is giving you the problems and click the Edit button.
    4. Click the Advanced tab
    5. Make sure that the option “Remove copy from server after retreiving a message” is selected.
    6. You may choose “Remove now” to delete all messages on your ISP’s server.
    7. You can choose how often that you want this to happen from the menu.

    This will help with the large accumulation of messages.

    If you’re getting a lot of SPAM, make sure that you’re using Mail’s filtering options. It took me some time to create some special filtering rules, but now I only get one or two pieces of junk per day.

    Hope this helps.

  11. Rod McFadden says:

    All your base are belong to us.

  12. I’ve tried what Mike suggested. Usually hitting “remove now” crashes the Mail program, but I’ve done it four or five times without crashing. It doesn’t help. I’ve gotten two dozen copies of the same message; periodically, the Mail goes back to the beginning of the 11,000-plus messages.

    I called SBC Yahoo tech support since I use their DSL service. The nice young woman said they aren’t trained to support Mac’s Mail OSX and suggested I call Apple, which charges $50 an hour for tech support. She asked if that was OK. I said “no.” She didn’t seemed trained to respond to that answer.

  13. To quote Dogbert: “Hello, this is customer service, how may I abuse you?” 😉

  14. You should probably ask your ISP to zero out your email file.

  15. Make sure you’ve got it set up as a POP server rather than IMAP. Or, you can just check and see if you can actually still read your e-mail that’s been downloaded when you’re not actually connected to the internet. If that’s all fine, just log into your mail server, through web mail or whatever option you have, and delete all of the e-mail by hand.

    Things are just hosed up, it happens. The mail file on the server can get hosed up, and your local mail file can get hosed up, who knows which it is.

    You might try exporting your mail to a file, wiping out all your mail in your e-mail program then re-importing it.

    There are probably more things you could do, you just want to be careful to not wipe out all of your e-mail in such a way that you’re actually losing it. I don’t know if you care to save it all or not?

    With more than 11,000 messages on the server I’m surprised you haven’t overflowed your e-mail account space.

  16. Following what Justin wrote, here’s how to clean it up on the client side:

    This comes from Apple’s support/discussion forum (You’re not the only one with this problem) Before following the advice to trash the file though, I would either have the ISP delete the old messages or log-in via the web and manually delete everything, otherwise when you relaunch Mail it will download everything that is on the server all over again one last time.

    “Try deleting the MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded file for the account which may have some minor corruption.

    Close the and using the Finder, go to Home > Library > Mail > Account Named Folder (named for the incoming mail server for the account) > MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded.

    Delete the MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded file and empty the trash.

    Re-launch the and some previously received messages may be downloaded again. ”

    From what I read this helped some people, but not everyone.

  17. I’ve finally found those 11,000 messages on Horde but it’s taking forever to kill them. I can do it only 20 messages at a time. I’ll have to ask the ISP to do it for me.

  18. Mad Scientist says:

    Or just buy a Dell.

    Come to the Dark Side. The water’s fine.

  19. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Since we’ve drifted to religious issues, here’s a Microsoft story:

    At home, I am behind a hardware and a software fire wall. Still, I decided to take the advice that was coming at me from all sides and update Windows.

    I chose “Windows Update” from the Start menu.

    Which evoked Microsoft Internet Explorer

    Which addressed Microsoft’s update web page.

    Which crashed Internet Explorer.

  20. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If Apple or unix or Ada or C+ ever approached the popularity of Windows, the termites would be in there. Ugly girls seldom get kissed.

    {Ugly guys, on the other hand…]

  21. Ah, Walter, you used the word “popular” when I think you meant “pernicious.”

    Granted, virus writers and other malware fiends would work harder to create Mac, Unix, Linux nasties if the percentage of total machines was higher.

    The key is “work harder” however, because the Unix foundation of OS X, etc. is not quite so welcoming to intruders as that Microsoft stuff is. Any bozo with a couple of computing classes and a six-pack of Jolt cola can create a virus that will turn a Windows machine into a hopeless tangle of ones and zeros. Not all operating systems are quite so insecure.

  22. Richard, I just had the same problem trying to do a Windows update.

    I switched to Mozilla Firefox as my browser, and no more problems. Should have done this a long time ago.

  23. John Sawyer says:

    Boy, Mad Scientist has chosen the first part of his username correctly. The email problem Joanne is experiencing has nothing to do with using a Mac, OS X, or Apple’s Mail application–it could happen with any email app in any operating system, and with any Internet Service Provider.

    As for whether there would be more malware attacks on OS X if it were in greater use–that’s only partially true. Sorry to take a partial tangent here, but since Mad Scientist and others have already done that, I can’t resist setting them straight on this issue–besides, this bears somewhat on the question of whether Joanne would be better off with Windows, for email and computer use in general. Even if the number of malware attacks on OS X were similar to those on Windows, OS X is inherently more secure than Windows–not totally secure, just vastly more secure. Security was a patched afterthought in Windows, but with OS X’s Unix background, security was a primary part of its structure from day one, many years ago. Under Windows, rogue apps can install themselves without any warning to the user; under OS X, in practically every case, the user has to give the OK (often several times) before anything gets installed. However, the number of attacks would probably be vastly fewer than with Windows, given that many malware authors specifically target Microsoft due to their perceptions (real or otherwise) about Microsoft’s predatory business tactics, etc. Apple has some predatory and otherwise bad business behavior (putting their non-Apple Store resellers out of business; using bad parts in repairs; not admitting product flaws; etc.), but not yet on the massive underhanded scale of Microsoft. Do some real research, and if your eyes are open, you’ll see. Much of Microsoft’s software is very good, but they try too hard to force it on the world.

    In summary, no, Joanne wouldn’t be any better off with email problems under Windows.