Apple Mail is a default client that is built-in to your Mac to manage your email accounts. Sending and receiving mail on your Mac is one of the best features because its all done in one place. The Mail app allows composition, sorting, searching, and adding attachments when you add your external email account.

Sometimes, you may experience trouble with Mail, when sending or receiving messages, or when the app won’t load your messages. Not to worry! Apple Mail has troubleshooting features built-in that are pretty simple to use. Learn how to fix your Mail app in Mac when it goes awry following the steps in this tutorial.

Troubleshoot Your Mac Mail

Troubleshoot your Mac Mail according to the problem you are having. This tutorial provides Mac Mail solutions according to the problem:

  • View Your Email Account Settings in Mail
  • Problem Accessing Your Mail Account
  • Problem Viewing Mailbox/Messages
  • Problem Sending Mail
  • Problem Receiving Mail
  • Security Problem

Note: Mail will not work if your Mac is not connected to the Internet, if your account is not ‘Online’, or if your email account is inactive.

View Your Email Account Settings in Mail

Learn how to view your email account in Mail. Go to Mail, and in the Favorites bar, click ‘Mailboxes’. In the Mail sidebar, select a mailbox by using the control-click shortcut keys. Select ‘Get Account Info’ from the dropdown list. Select the Account pop-up window, and select your email account:

You may examine the information in each of the tabs: Summary, Mailbox Behavior, Quota Limits, and Subscription List. Under Subscription List, you can view your settings, to include the security and server configurations. You can also view the size of each folder in your mail account under the ‘Quota Limits’ tab.

Problem Accessing Your Mail Account

1. If you can’t open Mail, make sure you are not opening an incompatible version of Mail on to your Mac. Go to Applications > Mail. Check to see if the version is compatible and up-to-date.

2. If your Mail crashed when you opened it, turn your Internet connection OFF. Open Mail. Go to Preferences > Accounts. Select your mail accounts and disable by the account checkbox. Close Mail. Re-open Mail and re-connect the Internet connection. Re-enable all of your email accounts. Wait for each email account to download all messages before enabling the next email account. Try accessing your email account again.

3. Make sure your account is active. If your Mail account is dimmed in the Accounts list, the account is inactive. To fix the problem, Turn on Accounts in Mail. Go to Mail > Preferences, and select your account. Click ‘Account Information’ and select ‘enable this account’. Go to Apple > System Preferences, and choose ‘Internet Accounts’. Select your account and choose the Mail checkbox.

4. Check your login credentials. If Mail fails to connect to your email account, it could be that the email provider does not recognize your password. Make sure you are using the correct log in credentials. If you can’t remember your password, recreate one.

5. Use ‘Mail Settings Lookup’ to view the settings in your email account. Compare those settings to those in your Mail.

Problem Sending Mail

1. Make sure you are connected to the Internet and that your email account is online. Choose your email account in Mail and click on the lightning bolt. Or, choose ‘Take [Your Email Account] Online’.

2. To take a specific one of your email accounts online, click on the lightning bolt next to that account mailbox. Or, select Mailbox > Online Status > Take [Specific Account] Online.

If you receive a warning, click on the icon to go to the ‘Connection Doctor’. The mailbox names that you have no permissions to access will be dimmed.

3. If you still receive cannot send mail errors, reauthenticate and provide your login credentials to the SMTP server. Go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts. Select the email account that is not working. Under ‘Account Information’ click on ‘Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP)’ and select ‘Edit SMTP Server List’. Select ‘Advanced’ on the ‘Edit SMTP Server List’ screen. Then, re-enter your login credentials:

4. Click ‘OK’ and save changes. Send a test email to confirm that it is working. Your unsent messages will automatically resend. You can also manually configure your SMTP settings to match your email provider’s settings by entering the direct port number into the port field directly.

The ‘Send’ button is dimmed when the outgoing mail settings are not correct in Mail. If your ‘Send’ button is dimmed, it could be that the SMTP Outgoing mail server is not configured properly. Your email provider may have implemented changes in the settings, or the Mail preference file may need updating. To solve this problem, update your Mail settings and/or your Mail preference file.

If you work with your Mail app open for long periods of time, it may just need to be restarted to get your mail back flowing again. Close Mail by selecting Mail > Quit, or by using the Command – Q shortcut keys. The, click on the Mail icon on the Dock to reopen Mail. Verify that your email settings are correct.

Problem Receiving Mail

Your email delivery is scheduled by the email provider. Also, your incoming mail may take some time to arrive, or much longer than expected. However, if your email account has stopped receiving incoming mail, it could be a problem with your Mac settings or features. There are a number of ways to troubleshoot:

1. Check your online status. Make sure you are connected to the Internet and that your email account is online:


2. In Mail, Go to Mailbox, and select ‘Take All Accounts Offline’ from the dropdown menu, and then select ‘Take All Accounts Online’.

3. Your email account settings are a common area to troubleshoot if you are not receiving your email. Check the message list filters for ones that may be blocking the message from being listed. Sort the mail by attributes such as the Date, Time to verify receipt.

4. Check to establish whether the mail is a large attachment or an email message that is large. You can free storage space to receive mail – Make sure you have enough storage space to receive the email messages.

Connection Doctor

If you received the ‘Unable to Connect’ notification, open to the ‘Connection Doctor’:

1. Verify your connection, or check to Apple System Status webpage to verify it is available. (You may also check the status on Outlook and Gmail.) Or, select ‘Take All Accounts Online’ on the notification.

2. Check for antivirus or firewalls that may be blocking the messages. Check for login problems.

3. Try displaying your messages in a different format. Go to View > Message > Plain Text Alternative.

4. If you are constantly prompted to enter your password, contact your email provider to verify your credentials, the incoming mail server, and your account preferences.

5. Quit Mail altogether, and then relaunch.

6. Make sure your software is up to date.

Problem Sending and Receiving Mail

If your email is spinning, and you cannot send or receive your mail, it could be that IMAP is not synced. In this case, close Mail. Go to Users/Your_profile/Library/Mail/IMAP – account_concerned/. Then, delete the .OfflineCache hidden folder. Reopen Mail.

Your Mac will generate a new OfflineCache folder .

Mail Account Security

Finally, you can change your email account security settings to mitigate some password problems, especially for gmail users. Go to your email account website and login. Go to ‘Security’ and select ‘Less secure app access’ from the scroll down menu and turn it ON.

Make sure that your Internet source is secure.

Get Help from Apple Support

If you are not sure how to configure your settings on your iPhone, contact Apple Support.