Concerns rise on OS X Mavericks' Gmail compatibility

Concerns rise on OS X Mavericks' Gmail compatibility

Summary: Mac owners updating to the latest version of OS X report problems with Gmail accounts, including duplicated files, missing messages, and missing rules and labels.


There are a number of new, useful features in Mac Mail, such as improved searching for attachments and a button to delete an unwanted message from a notification banner. Nice. However, if you are using Mail as a client for one or more Google Gmail accounts, there are new issues, some serious.

Worse, for those who have tweaked Mail or Gmail preferences in the past to account for Gmail's particular message handling, then a blind upgrade to Mavericks may prove problematic.

Apple Mavericks desktop

In a long post at TidBITS, Joe Kissell runs down the issues. The problems for most users will be that Mail takes a significant time to display messages in the Inbox and other mailboxes — here "significant" could be more than a day, even a several days, depending on the number of messages stored. Mail, it appears, is reindexing folders and performing other tasks, but doesn't tell the user. Depending on user's Gmail settings, it could be downloading gigabytes of already read messages.

For longtime Mac power users, AppleScripts written for Gmail accounts will likely be broken with this initial move to Mavericks Mail. Some mailboxes will be reported as empty but have messages in them. Ordinary rules are also having problems, according to some reports.

In addition, Megan Lavey-Heaton at TUAW mentions problems with Smart Folders in Mail after updating.

It kept telling me I had numerous unread messages, but nothing was showing in the mailbox. In the screencap above, you can see the smart mailbox selected but nothing in the mailbox itself. When I checked the rules for that smart mailbox, it had a lot of blank rules that weren't there before. I deleted them, but the smart mailbox still didn't work.

Kissell reports that some Mail users in before the release of Mavericks, would prevent the All Mail label from being exposed to IMAP clients (a setting in Gmail), since having All Mail set could result in having multiple copies of messages downloaded to the client Mac. This was especially a concern with MacBook Airs and other systems with limited bandwidth and constrained SSD "disk" space.

In his TidBITS article, Kissell describes the procedure to undo this past practice of prevent the All Mail label from being exposed and what to expect when turning it back on.

Now, here’s what’s going to happen. Mail — despite the fact that it has already cached all your Gmail messages — will download all of them again. For me, with about 321,000 messages totaling over 4 GB, that took nearly two full days, even with a super-fast Internet connection. That’s an unreasonably long period of time, and a crazy waste of bandwidth since I already had copies of all those messages! Mail actually does this in stages, and I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say that at a certain point in the process, your ~/Library/Mail folder could be twice as large as it should be, or even larger. Unless you’re running critically low on disk space, don’t panic about that, because it’ll eventually settle down — but be aware that it could take Mail a very, very long time to purge all those duplicate messages and return your ~/Library/Mail folder to a reasonable size.

When that big download is done, the good news is that Mail will have only one copy of each message — the one in All Mail! Messages you had labeled in Gmail will still show up in mailboxes bearing the same name. (And, for the first time, Mail will have a copy of all your messages that didn’t have any label at all — ones you had archived without explicitly filing.) But those messages are not really in those mailboxes. What Mail does behind the scenes is to add a little invisible XML code to the end of each message telling it which other mailbox(es) it should be displayed in. And that’s an entirely reasonable strategy, as far as it goes. In fact, arguably Mail should have started doing this years ago.

At the same time, there are reports that after all the old messages are downloaded, cached and indexed — again – the Mail’s Inbox won't stay in sync with Gmail’s Inbox. This isn't a new problem and has been reported for several years.

Now, I have seen these delays pop up now and again under Lion and Snow Lion. They aren't so new. For example, at times when I've known a message is coming, I've then discovered the message when checking Gmail in the browser. There it is, on time, but delayed in Mail. Yikes!

If you haven't upgraded yet, good. Wait. If you have upgraded, then make sure to keep Mail open and be patient with the background processes.

There are many things to consider with Mail. For example, the badges for unread messages will be off count, perhaps significantly. It could be greater than actuality.

Meanwhile, I am looking at other Mac email clients. But that's an article(s) for another day(s).

Topics: Apple, Operating Systems, Google Apps

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  • Other alternatives.

    MS Outlook for Mac works well too IMHO
    • Or gmail for that matter

      The gmail web interface is actually an excellent email client! It is the main one I use.

      I have iMail hooked up to gmail, but never open it, so I have not seen the problems yet.
      • Totally agree

        It's been years since I've used a POP email client (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, et. al.). Just seems like a huge hassle every time there's upgrade breakage.
        Will Cate
        • Thunderbird

          T'Bird is first and foremost an IMAP application. That's the default setting on Thunderbird. If there's a way to configure Thunderbird to act as a POP client, I never found it.
          • POPping Tbird...

            When you're setting up a new Mail account in Tbird, the very *first* question it asks you is whether it's POP or IMAP. Then it shifts to the rest of the configuration dialog.
            (newest Tbirds (at least under Windows) offer to do it all automatically)
            Once you're past that first POP/IMAP question, the only (easy) way to change an account's protocol is to delete it and start again as "new"
      • Agreed

        If you're gonna use Gmail, use Gmail.
        Bob Buchko
      • GMAIL multiple account issues with Maverick?

        I use Gmail as Gmail but since upgrading to Maverick I can no longer open multiple Gmail accounts at once. No matter what I do (log out, reboot, delete a gmail account, log in as one of my other Gmail accounts) it still insists on only opening my main work gmail account. I can no longer open my personal Gmail or other Gmail mailboxes I'm responsible for. My IT department says it's a Gmail problem not a Mac OS problem but how can it be anything else? I had no issue before Maverick.... Thoughts? Suggestions?
        • GMAIL multiple account issues with Maverick?

          If your using the web interface then click on the top right where it shows your email address and select the account you want to open. It will open it in a new tab, you can also add an account and link it if it's not already there.
    • Outlook 2011 - contact sync issues

      I set up the g-mail account, which worked well, as you outlined. But, my contacts will no longer sync between outlook and the mac contacts app. And, of course because of the happy relationship between google, apple and MS, I have not been able to find that direct sync'ing between Office 2011 and google contacts was going to be possible... Any ideas, or did I just miss something easy?
      • Try exporting your Google contacts

        Using the instructions at this link:

        Save the CSV file to your drive. Using the File>Import/Export function in Outlook, import the CSV file to your client.
      • DON'T allow Outlook to "sync" its contacts with your Mac contacts.

        It will eventually corrupt your Contacts database irrecoverably. I've had it happen twice, and you fill find plenty other tales of woe about this defect online.
        Oscar Goldman
  • And then there was...

    Thunderbird. Works fine for me, with several accounts.
    • not really viable

      Thunderbird is a failure because there's no way to import and export your filters. So unless you only have one computer, this app is a joke.
      Oscar Goldman
      • Thunderbird on multiple computers

        It is quite easy to transfer Thunderbird account (with all settings, passwords, messages etc.) to another computer. Just copy your entire profile folder over to the new machine and you are good to go! No matter if it were Mac or PC.
  • Forward Gmail

    I set my Gmail and Outlook accounts to forward mail to my iCloud account a few years ago. iCloud auto-configures the Mail app so I don't have to worry about settings, I have no mail inbox or sent box delays, and I can select which account I want to reply/send from or just set it to reply from whichever account it arrived from. No problems here. Perhaps I missed the issue at hand.
  • if you have activesync servr

    touchdown for mac of course!
  • After the Mavericks's upgrade I noticed the anomalies with my Mail app also

    And I was NOT using Gmail or any other email service. I have been using only iCloud for quite sometime now.

    However, from past experience with OS X upgrades, I have come to understand that Apple's Mail app is the weak link in it's armor, so to speak.

    What I did was just tell the Mail app to rebuild it's mailboxes. That took overnight to do. (I just let my iMac "cook" over night.

    The next morning I found everything working perfectly with Mail. Paradoxically, I noticed that the Mail app on my MacBook worked perfectly after the Mavericks upgrade and I didn't have to rebuild it's mailboxes.

    Go figure.
  • Easy Fix...

    Just bypass the Mac's notification system entirely. What I did was install the Chrome App Launcher for Mac and enabled Chrome's built-in Rich Notifications. Once you do that. Gmail notifications will appear on their own without relying on any local client or the Mac's built in notification center (they look like Chrome OS notification cards). The good thing about using the Chrome App launcher is that you can add direct links to web apps and chrome packaged apps in it), while at the same time keeping your dock clean. If I get a Gmail notification I want to address, all I have to do is click on the notification and it goes straight to that email in chrome. If there is more than one, all I do is click on the gmail icon on the App launcher and it goes straight to my gmail inbox. The better part is that I can do this regardless of OS, thus keeping the experience consistent.
    • Easier fix ...

      Do exactly what Google wants you to do and buy a ChromeBook.

      That way, Google can "collect the maximum amount of data about you as you roam around the Internet and, in theory, to serve you the most relevant targeted ads.” - according to

      The other solution is to forward your Gmail to an iCloud account, as mentioned earlier. Then you’re insulated against any current or future changes to Google’s architecture.
      • i drones are weird

        apple steals your finger print and your personal likes and dislikes through i tunes of course apple is the holy company sent by god to rid the planet from all its worries