Manage lost Mail messages after upgrading to El Capitan

MailIconYosemiteXOne substantial issue that has affected users after upgrading to OS X El Capitan is that Mail messages might be missing. In some cases it may be a few messages, while in other cases entire accounts have been emptied with no messages available. Sometimes this type of problem can be fixed by adjusting account settings to re-establish contact with your account servers, after which re-syncing will download your messages again; however, this does not always happen.

In this instance Apple has recognized problems with Mail in the initial release of El Capitan, and has issued a fix in the latest OS X 10.11.1 update. Nevertheless, those who have installed it may still have their messages missing.

If you are one of these people, then there are several ways you can go about restoring lost messages from your Mail accounts:

Use Time Machine after updating

Apple’s Mail e-mail client is one of a few programs that will allow you to access backups directly in the program itself. This means that you should be able to access and restore missing messages relatively easily:

  1. Open Mail.
  2. Invoke Time Machine.
  3. Navigate to the most recent backup that has your messages.
  4. Select all by pressing Command-A (or use Shift or Command to create a custom selection).
  5. Click the Restore button to copy your messages back to Mail.

Restore and re-update

If you have recently installed OS X 10.11.0 and have a backup, then you can alternatively restore your Mac and then try reinstalling El Capitan, upgrading directly to OS X 10.11.1 (the one that contains the fixes to Mail), as opposed to trying your hand in the potentially faulty OS X 10.11.0 update:

  1. Reboot your Mac to Recovery mode (hold Command-R at startup).
  2. Attach your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  3. Choose the tool for restoring your Mac from Time Machine.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions for restoring the most recent backup.
  5. Ensure your Mail accounts are accessible and your messages exist.
  6. Access the App Store and re-download El Capitan.

Since Apple has updated the App Store distribution of El Capitan to reflect the latest version, this will ensure you go directly to the latest as opposed to upgrading and then needing to update. After this is done, check your messages to ensure they are present.

8 thoughts on “Manage lost Mail messages after upgrading to El Capitan

  1. Jeff Wragg

    I had the problem for both El Cap 11.0 and 11.1. I lost about the most recent 24 hours worth of messages, although they were still on the server, as seen from other devices. I fixed it with some combination of disabling the account, quitting, restarting, and re-enabling the account.

  2. bols59

    This vindicates my decision to not change browsers or even click on any more Mac updates. The seriously bogged-down-by-bugs preciously named Mountain Lion and then Yosemite did my head in. How these squirming bags of infected crap ever made it past beta testing I will never know, but my love for Mac has now turned to abject contempt. I know what Yosemite’s bugs are; I have to keep Screen Preferences open at all times to save myself time when one them rears its head. The second reason for not clicking on Mac updates is the last one I clicked on removed iPhoto and replaced it with Photos without my knowledge or consent.

    I no longer have the time to dwell on what my goodwill towards Mac has become; I no longer ask what has happened to Mac. I will celebrate the day when Mac enters Chapter 11 – they deserve it!

    1. Jim McDonough

      How Apple stays so highly regarded and commeads such prices is beyond me. I spend more time screwing with their crap than I ever did with Windows. El Capitan should she be demoted to El Buck Private.

  3. Ephraim Fithian

    Had an interesting problem with the wife’s iPad Air. It showed about 115 messages were there, but none could be seen. I chose Edit on the Mailboxes list and found that Inbox was unchecked. No idea why. Problem solved.

  4. Hilary

    I tried to restore my mail and had a screen message telling me to click the Restore button – but there was no button, just the timeline on the right and the backup folders on screen. Help, please

  5. Michael J.

    My mail has not worked correctly across devices for so long I can’t remember when it did. I attempt to delete mail and it shows up again. Everything runs at a snails pace. I have gone to every possible site for correction and nothing fixes it for more than 24 hours.

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