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email message goes completely blank, can't move!!


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Andrew W Scott

 
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I'm using a MacBook Pro, Mac OS X version 10.6.4.

I'm using the standard Mac Mail client that came with the computer.

The most bizzare thing just started happening.

Occasionally, for no apparent reason, when I go to an email, it's completely blank (I mean COMPLETELY - no header information, nothing) and it can't be moved.

An example will illustrate:

I send an email from me 'AWS' to 'MrX' with subject 'Stuff'.

It sits merrily in my sent emails. After a while I move it to a mailbox 'box1'. A week later I move it to another mailbox 'box2'. So far so good.

Then, later that day, I click on the email heading line in the list of emails in mailbox 'box2' - and suddenly, the preview pane is blank. 100% blank. If I double click the email details (from, to, subject) to open up the email in its own window, I see nothing in that window - BUT all the correct details are still in the line for that email in the mailbox.

If I print it, I get a blank page.

If I try to move it to any other mailbox at all (including where it came from) (call the new mailbox 'box3'), I get an error message 'The message “Stuff” could not be moved to the mailbox “box 3 — On My Mac”.

Basically - I've completely lost the email. VERY DISASTROUS!!

I think (but I'm not sure yet) that this behaviour only happens with emails I have sent (not received), and it only seems to happen a few days or a week AFTER I created the email, and only if I move it from one mailbox to another.

HELP!!!! I've searched everywhere but I can't find anyone else having this same issue.
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Andrew W Scott

 
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Ok, now this is just getting freaky BUT some good news too.

By quitting the mail app and opening again, the mail seems to be back, contents and all. Which is good.

But this behaviour seems to be contagious! It was just happening to the oldest of 8 emails in one particular mailbox, then suddenly it was happening with the oldest 7 emails in that mailbox (i.e. all but the newest).

Any ideas?
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hughvane

 
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I fancy the OS Permissions might be in need of repair. OnyX Titanium's Software • Download does the best job, and is recommended, but you also have the option of using Disk Utility > First Aid.

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
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Andrew W Scott

 
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I've tried the disk utility > first aid, so let's see how that goes.
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Andrew W Scott

 
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I have two email addresses set up in Mac Mail, both with my own domain names (call them domain1 and domain2).

When I first open up Mac Mail and I first try to do a 'Get All New Mail', I get this dialog message:
Mail can't verify the identity of "mail.<domain1>.com"

The certificate for this server is invalid. You might be connecting to a server that is pretending to be "mail.<domain1>.com" which could put your confidential information at risk. Do you want to connect to the server anyway?

buttons: Show Certificate | Cancel | Connect
Now I just have been hitting connect and then get this message:
Mail can't verify the identity of "mail.<domain2>.com"

The certificate for this server is invalid. You might be connecting to a server that is pretending to be "mail.<domain2>.com" which could put your confidential information at risk. Do you want to connect to the server anyway?

buttons: Show Certificate | Cancel | Connect
I just hit connect again and that's that, everything works.

Things just got worse, another message did the 'disappearing trick' and I can't get it back even after Quitting, Restarting, and opening Mac Mail again. I strongly feel the email message is actually still there, it's just blank on the display (the header information like FROM, TO, SUBJECT, etc is still showing correctly in the list of emails in that mailbox.

This only seems to happen to mailboxes that are in other mailboxes. I've noticed an odd behaviour of that 'parent' email, with a second 'child' email inbox, being recreated in the 'grandparent' email inbox. An example will illustrate better.

I have a mailbox called '* WAITING' (could this be anything to do with starting a mailbox name with an asterisk?), and in it is a mailbox called '2 Advertising sales', and in it is a mailbox called 'SM proposal'. In 'SM proposal' are 8 messages, 1 of which is doing this weird disappearing act. When that started happening, I noticed there was a new mailbox called 'URGENT Advertising sales' (a former name of the '2 Advertising Sales' mailbox) in the '* WAITING' mailbox. The new 'URGENT Advertising sales' mailbox was greyed out (indicating it didn't have any emails in it), but it did have a new mailbox in it, called 'SM proposal'! That new 'SM proposal' mailbox was empty. I tried moving it around, I tried moving the culprit email into that new mailbox (but the Mac wouldn't let me, giving me the 'this email cannot be moved error message' I mentioned earlier). In the end I just deleted the two errant new mailboxes, but my culprit email still has done the disappearing act.

This without a doubt is some of the weirdest behaviour I have seen in a computer - making up new mailboxes, making emails become invisible - WTF is going on here? I'm scared I'm going to lose valuables emails!!

HELP!

Thanks in advance for any help, greatly appreciated...
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Andrew W Scott

 
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On the left hand side of the page in my Mac Mail are of course all the mailboxes.

There is a section called 'MAILBOXES' under which are my inboxes (2 of them, as I am running two email addresses), which currently hold approximately 12,000 emails, Drafts, Sent, Trash and Junk (by the way nothing ever seems to go in Junk).

Then there is a section called 'REMINDERS' under which is 'Notes'.

Then there is a section called 'RSS' under which is 'Apple Hot News'.

Then there is a section called 'ON MY MAC' under which I have many mailboxes (more than 100) in a tree structure holding some 64,000 emails accumulated over the last 10 years or so.

At the top level under 'ON MY MAC' is a mailbox named '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)'. On the level immediately under that mailbox there are about 25 mailboxes, the first 4 of which start with numbers. One of those is '4 Advertising sales'. Under '4 Advertising sales' are 7 mailboxes one of which is named 'Media kit'.

By the way, I don't always let mailboxes list in alphabetical order, sometimes I manually change the order to one that is not alphabetical, but makes more sense to me.

I just had the '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)' mailbox expanded, and under that the '4 Advertising sales' mailbox expanded, and under that the 'Media kit' mailbox selected. At that moment, I decided to change the name of the '4 Advertising sales' mailbox to '5 Advertising sales'. When I tried to do that I got an error message saying I couldn't do that, BUT what also happened was that at the bottom of the mailboxes directly under '*TO DO (oneoffs in here)', a new mailbox was created named '5 Advertising sales' (it was greyed out to indicate there were no emails in it) and under that just one new mailbox was created named 'Media kit' (but it was NOT greyed out). Neither of these new mailboxes had anything in them.

Worse, now ALL mailboxes under and including '4 Advertising sales' appeared totally empty. They were not greyed out, and the emails really were still in there, but when selecting any of those 8 mailboxes, nothing at all came up in the list of emails (note this is different to the behaviour when the emails come up but when you click on the email nothing comes up in the preview pane).

Next, I quit Mac Mail and reopened. Magically all the emails had returned to those eight mailboxes. The phantom mailboxes were still there. I deleted the phantom mailboxes, all good, no change. Now I tried repeating the behaviour (changing the name of '4 Advertising sales' to '5 Advertising sales') and it work just fine! Go figure.

No damage done this time, but it is a similar behaviour - creating phantom mailboxes.

Does anybody have any ideas? My main concern of course remains the losing of the data inside some emails randomly.
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hughvane

 
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There seems to be a problem with mail protocols, but why it's happening with Apple Mail I'm unable to say.

Have you tried a different email application, eg. Thunderbird? Or one of these Top 10 Free Mac Email Programs - About Email

Further, what happens if you use webmail to access your emails? Cumbersome, I know, but we're trying to establish causes and eliminate problems. Does the body text of In mail show in webmail?

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
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Andrew W Scott

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughvane View Post
There seems to be a problem with mail protocols, but why it's happening with Apple Mail I'm unable to say.

Have you tried a different email application, eg. Thunderbird? Or one of these Top 10 Free Mac Email Programs - About Email

Further, what happens if you use webmail to access your emails? Cumbersome, I know, but we're trying to establish causes and eliminate problems. Does the body text of In mail show in webmail?
Thanks very much for trying to help me, I do appreciate it.

I don't think webmail can help here, because this behaviour happens long after the emails are downloaded from the server. The emails are downloaded from the server (and instantly deleted from the server), and then sit in my inbox, absolutely fine. The problem only arises when I move them, and only in maybe 1% or so of emails. I actually suspect the problem is something to do with renaming mailboxes when they are open.

All email is fine in the first instance, the problem only arises a week or two later.

I have some more information.

If I click on 'Mailbox > Rebuild' the culprit email completely disappears. This tells me something. It tells me that when this behaviour happens, the email is actually being deleted (hence there is no way I can EVER get it back), but it is not deleting the details from the index file of that mailbox. So when this happens, the email is truly lost, it just LOOKS like it's still there because the 'from', 'to', 'subject', etc, information is being retained.

Having said this, I also have said that sometimes the emails magically 'come back'. It appears to me that sometimes the culprit email immediately 'comes back' if I quickly quit and reopen mail, and sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't come back fairly quickly, then it appears to be lost forever.

I haven't tried an using another email program, because I would have to try for an extended period of time to test it and having started now with Mac Mail and having about 76,000 emails on it, I don't really fancy changing.

I haven't noticed the problem now in 4 days. I've been a lot more careful with re-naming mailboxes (always ensuring they are closed when I do it). I don't know for certain this is the cause of the problem, it's just a feeling I get.

To give a sense of volume I get about 20 to 30 emails a day that I need to keep (i.e. emails that are not spam and need an action by me or at least need to be filed). I get maybe just as many spam emails and of course instantly delete them. It's the 90/10 rule here, email address#1 get 90% 'real' emails and 10% spam, email address#2 (an older one I don't really use much anymore) gets 90% spam and 10% 'real' emails.

All the culprit emails have been from or two email address#1, but I don't think that really means anything because 90% of all my emails these days are from or to email address #1.
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Ok, so nothing bad happened for a week but then a bit of a disaster struck!

This is what happened:

I have a mailbox called '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)' under the 'ON MY MAC' section of Mac Mail (see attached screenshots).

In the parent/child/grandchild tree structure, the '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)' mailbox had 25 'child' mailboxes under it. The first eleven started with numbers:

>01 Issue 8
>02 Party 1st birthday
>03 Media kit
…[04 through 10]
>11 Website

...followed by 14 more that started with letters:

> Apple Office for Mac 2011
…[11 more mailboxes]
> P Wuu work
> Taiwan project…

The '01 Issue 8' had 32 other 'grandchild' mailboxes under it.

The order of mailboxes within their parent mailbox is not necessarily alphabetical, sometimes I move them around to an order that is more logical to me.

Ok, that's where I was at.

Now I will tell you what I did.

1. I moved a couple of the 'numbered' child mailboxes in '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)' to become child mailboxes of '01 Issue 8' and renamed them
2. I renamed some of the other numbered sub-mailboxes in '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)', by changing the numbers at the start of them.

Now I will tell you the result.

Suddenly at the bottom of the list of child mailboxes in '* TO DO (oneoffs in here)' i noticed a NEW greyed-out mailbox called '01 Issue 8 content' with an arrow indicating that it had child mailboxes. The new '01 Issue 8 content' mailbox was empty. I clicked the arrow to open up the tree, and there was a new, empty (but NOT greyed-out) child mailbox in there called 'SH FN The Bunnies are Back!', which is the name of a child mailbox under '01 Issue 8'.

When I went to the REAL 'SH FN The Bunnies are Back!' mailbox (under '01 Issue 8' which in turn is under "*TO DO'), 18 of the 19 emails in it had the strange behaviour I described in earlier posts of being 'empty' (i.e. there was no email in there, but the index/heading details were still there.) For some bizarre reason, one random email was spared.

I took six screenshots (which I will walk you through below), and then rebuilt the mail box. Lo and behold, the 18 'missing' emails disappeared from email list, and the one email that was spared remained behind.

Of course, this is really scary, because I now have no confidence that emails won't just suddenly disappear on me.

Now I will walk you through the six screenshots.

1. 22 Nov 10 at 09:31:01 GMT+8

Here is a shot of the mailbox the disaster occurred in, 'SH FN The Bunnies are Back!', immediately after the disaster. Note the 19 emails in the email list with all their details (to, from, date, subject, etc) and notw that it says there are 19 emails in the mailbox (there aren't, there's really only 1). Note also that I have the first email in the mailbox selected but that the preview pane is entirely blank (because that email really isn't there anymore).

2. 22 Nov 10 at 09:31:55 GMT+8

Here is a shot of the same mailbox, but this time the one email that was spared is selected. Note that the email displays normally in the preview pane.

3. 22 Nov 10 at 09:32:02 GMT+8

Here is a shot of the same mailbox, but this time I have selected the 7th email in the list. Note that the related emails in the same thread are displayed as highlighted in light blue (the actual selected email is highlighted in dark blue), so even the index information of which are related emails in the same thread is being retained. Sadly, the email body itself is not being retained!

4. 22 Nov 10 at 09:32:40 GMT+8

Here is a shot of the same mailbox, but this time I have selected the 10th email in the list. Note that the 11th email is a related email in the same thread (displayed as highlighted in light blue).

5. 22 Nov 10 at 09:34:51 GMT+8

Here is a shot of the same mailbox, just before I am about to rebuild it. You can see I have selected the 'Rebuild' menu item under the 'Mailbox' drop down menu item, and I am about to push the button.

Note the maximum number of attachments to a post is 5, so this sixth attachment has been uploaded on the next post.

6. 22 Nov 10 at 09:34:57 GMT+8

Here is a shot of the same mailbox, just six seconds later, after I have rebuilt the mailbox. Notice the 18 'missing' emails are now gone and the one 'spared' email is still there, details and body intact.

I haven't deleted the phantom mailboxes that were created, just in case some property of them might be part of finding the solution.

Can anyone help me? Please....! Pretty please........!
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Andrew W Scott

 
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...and now here is the sixth screen shot.
Attached Images
File Type: png Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 09.34.57 .png (208.7 KB, 5 views)
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Ok, so now it's a bit over an hour later (the hour I took to write that long post) and in that hour I received another email in my inbox.

I save an attachment to that email (thank God I did), then moved the email to another mailbox, one of those child mailboxes under '01 Issue 8'.

You guessed it. Email vanished. Everything lost, including the attachment.

See the screen shot.
Attached Images
File Type: png Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 10.43.20 .png (286.9 KB, 5 views)
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Some more information.

Take a look at the attached screen shot. Notice that another phantom mailbox has appeared, that of the name of the mailbox that the new problem has occured in. (Keen observers might notice a slight difference in the names, that's just because I renamed the 'real' one after the fact.)

I now going to delete the three (formerly two) phantom mailboxes. I think they are part of the problem.
Attached Images
File Type: png Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 10.50.36 .png (196.5 KB, 5 views)
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Some more dispiriting information. I got a couple of people to forward me emails that I had cc'd them on, that had disappeared from the mailbox as described above. I put those emails in the mailbox. Guess what? THEY disappeared too!!!! Same problem. (When I say disappeared, they had the same problem as before, disappearing except the index information remaining behind, to give me a tease of what I once had!)

But not every email that goes in that mailbox suffers that fate. Other emails created recently (like today) that I put in there survive just fine.

So random!
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