How to fix Apple Mail by rebuilding and reindexing the Mailbox

“If your Apple Mail doesn’t seem to be searchable and/or has become so slow it seems to hang your Mac — or even displays incorrect email content, then it’s time you attacked the problem: it’s time to rebuild and reindex your Mailbox,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Mac users depend on Apple Mail for day-to-day email use, but as those messages come in and go out your Mailboxes will become bloated,” Evans writes. “When they do, Mail’s performance will suffer and you’ll find that even something as simple as downloading new messages takes an age.”

“Before we begin: Delete messages inside your Deleted Items and Spam folders; Delete messages you no longer need; Update to the latest version of Mail,” Evans writes. “Now you’ve done that we may be able to improve things using these two tips…”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I figured that out and have been doing (and advising others) to use the “rebuild mailbox” fix for months since the Mail quirkiness started. Other recommended fixes recommended on Mac sites were too bothersome.

    1. When my incoming mail stalls as has been happening with this bug, and no incoming mail appears for longer than is normal, I just click on Inbox and then go to Mailbox > Rebuild and the mail comes flooding in again.

      1. I think you can. I made a smart mailbox which includes all my archived mail, and I can access that on my iPhone. I think of archiving as just getting stuff out of my main inbox, so that can loaded and be searched faster.

  2. I can’t take anything this blogger says seriously after he suggested a secure delete, over a regular delete, was a way to speed up your Mac.
    Why does MDN keep posting links to this clowns blog…

  3. Sometimes I wonder if I never had trouble with 10.9 Mavericks Mail because I re-index Mail every day.

    I started doing this as part of an automated ‘custom task’ sequence I set up in the utility MainMenu Pro. It made sense to me to add to the sequence ‘Vacuum Apple Mail Index’ and I haven’t had any problems with Mail since.

    Also in my daily cleanup sequence:
    – Clean Browser Caches
    – Daily Maintenance
    – Free Memory
    – Flush DNS Cache

    1. That may seem like incredible overkill, but I could see how doing this overnight may be an easy way to avoid any issues.

      Personally, I run Onyx which does all of that, about every 1-2 weeks depending on use. It works well for me as part of a routine that I also do with TimeMachine (which I’m not permanently hooked up to on all of my Macs) and cloning my disks.

  4. What is a ton of mail in Mail? The problems I have with Mail is the lack of “normal email client features” but certainly not performance! Mail is always fast, finds the right messages and displays those message.

    You know how lucky we are? I have an HP Win 8.1 machine with Outlook 2010. Wait! Hear me out, OK? Now, and I do not know whether to laugh or cry, but it turns out that Windows, the operating system, indexes the Outlook items but Windows the UI can not access that database. So searching for items can be done in Outlook, and Outlook alone. So the index for Outlook is in the Windows index…..that Windows can not “search in”. If you have some information on your computer and you have a unique word or something you want to look for and you do not know if it is an email or a txt, you have to search twice. That’s right, twice…..Now before anyone who has the details on this starts to explain just why this is, remember, you need to search twice. And there is the major difference between computers for professionals and consumers. For professionals this may be acceptable, they may see the IT part and maybe the impossibilities, for consumers, this is not acceptable.

    Another thing: Windows in today’s market is really for (IT) professionals and that is a big reason why they are still around. And what are they doing? They are betting on the consumer (looking at how Apple etc are grabbing that market) and leaving exactly those professionals behind that so depend on. I like that strategy, I like it a lot….

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