2 Replies Latest reply: Jul 27, 2006 10:28 AM by Ernie Stamper
George Machen Level 1 (20 points)
Somehow I lost all my Sent messages; don't really know whether I trashed them or they spontaneously disappeared.

But I had a recent hard disk backup, and tried copying my backed-up Sent messages to all of three locations:

~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Sent Messages.mbox
~/Library/Mail/[a POP server]/Sent Messages.mbox
~/Library/Mail/[another POP server]/Sent Messages.mbox

In no case upon subsequently launching Mail did they show up in Sent messages.

(If I actually send a new message, it goes into the third of the above locations.)

I even tried restoring all the other ancillary files straight from my backup:


... but still no joy.

How do I restore my backup Sent messages?

(And why does this crap have to be so hard?!!)


PowerBook Pismo 500   Mac OS X (10.4.5)  
  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 (37,545 points)

    Given what you have reported about the contents of the backup Sent Messages.mbox, you appear to have leftover files from when running Jaguar? The leftover files can corrupt or overload the index file now used in Mail 2.x, and cause it to appear the messages have disappeared. They have NOT, but are only inaccessible. See:


    These leftover files are probably present in your other xxxx.mbox folders, and will likely prove problematic later.

    Let me know, here, what you find in your other mailboxes. Once we know that you have all the messages you want to keep, in the Messages folders and don't need to refer back to the obsolete mbox files, then we can address whether you need to force Mail reindex the mailboxes. This is what was needed during trying to restore this mailbox, but the only place to have really tried that was into the Mailboxes folder, and would have been impeded by the leftover files.

  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 (37,545 points)

    I am reviewing your very thorough listing of the contents of what appears to be the current Mail folder -- is this correct?

    I am counting two POP folders, indicating two accounts -- is this what you expect, and have?

    Based upon what I can see, you upgraded from Jaguar, directly to Tiger, in mid December 2005 -- is that correct?

    The second of the two POP account folders, appears to not have had any activity (based of dates last modified) since late 2004 -- is this from a backup? Also, this second POP folder has never been converted to Tiger, consistent not only with dates, but there being no Messages folder.

    In most xxxx.mbox folders, where there is both a mbox file, and a Messages folder, the comparison of size is favorable to all messages having been largely converted, successfully -- would you agree? However, some in the Mailboxes folder were not expanded, and I cannot be sure of those. These are three within a folder named Archive, so you would need to examine those.

    The Sent Messages.mbox folder in the Mailboxes folder has NO message content, since its mbox is zero in size, and it has no Messages folder. The temp.mbox folder in the Mailboxes has a mbox file, whose size exceeds the size of the Messages folder -- would you have deleted some messages, after upgrading to Tiger, and that would explain its smaller size?

    The first thing you should do, after quitting Mail, is to remove all files that are WITHIN any xxxx.mbox folder (including any within another such folder), of all files, EXCEPT the Info.plist, mbox, and Messages folder. Furthermore, for those where there is BOTH a mbox file and Messages folder, but the Messages folder size EXCEEDS the size of the mbox file, you can delete the mbox file, also.

    If you really have a second POP file, and the one with 2004 dates last modified is only from backup, then you will keep the Info.plist file, and the mbox file in each mailbox, for now. It would be good to know if this is a currently valid account, however?

    For those few, where the mbox size EXCEEDS the size of the Messages folder, I recommend copying those, and saving them on the Desktop. Then in the original, delete the mbox file, leaving ONLY the Info.plist file, and the Messages folder. Later you can decide if you think the old mbox files, of size, might have messages you still need to salvage -- we can work on that.

    Now, at the root level of the Mail folder, delete the Envelope Index file. Launch Mail, and it will announce that it is ready to import your mailboxes. Allow this to continue, and it will only be reindexing those xxxx.mbox folder that have only a Messages folder, but for those with only a mbox file, it will be converting the message content, and creating a Messages folder -- again this only seemed to occur in the one, old POP account?

    Later, you should look at those where conversion was needed, and if the Messages folder equals, or exceeds the size of the original mbox, then you can delete those mbox files.

    I hope this is clear. It is not hard, but is very detailed work.