More tweaks for Mac Mavericks' Mail

Frustrations with OS X Mavericks continues. And the hopeful fixes keep coming.
Written by David Morgenstern, Contributor

The list of fixes in the 10.9.3 update to OS X Mavericks released last week was short: Improvements in 4K support and VPN connections; Safari 7.0.3; the return of hardware USB syncing for iOS devices; and some security updates. However, Apple's documentation offered nothing to make Mac Mail users happier.  


At Macintouch, reader Ian Crew said he had experienced a number of problems with Mavericks Mail. However, he believes that the 10.9.3 update may have made some beneficial changes. He wrote in a message that it was "behaving a bit better." In addition, Crew said the "Welcome to Mac OS X Mail" banner was appearing every time that Mail started, which had been "driving me nuts for months."

Crew's fix starts with disabling all configured Mail accounts, which is then followed by a series of Preferences changes and restarts. If you're seeing this behavior, check out Crew's comment.

Other issues and workarounds for Mail have been posted around and about. Here are a couple more tips that came to my attention:

Troubles syncing Mavericks and Gmail were noticed right away in November and Apple released Mail Update 1 soon thereafter to fix the problems. However, many customers still are having problems.

On an Apple Discussions thread, Chris Elley offered a detailed procedure hitting both Google-side and Mac-side settings. He notes that there were some significant differences in settings for Mountain Lion and Mavericks. The fix includes removing all Gmail accounts from the system, not just mail accounts.

Here's a selection of the procedure:

4. In Apple Mail, select Preferences from Mail Menu. Do not select Accounts directly from Mail menu, because this will take you back to System Prefs.

5. Inside Mail Prefs, select the Accounts tab.

6. Select Plus Sign to add a mail account. Do NOT select the Google preset, as doing so seems to create infinite sync problems. Instead, select Add Other Mail account. — I don't understand it, but I suspect this step is the real trick.

At Macworld, Sharon Zardetto wrote a piece that details OS X Mail's handling of attachments in its Downloads folder. I was interested in her noting that problems may crop up in workflows that use other applications — some even from Apple itself — to read attachments. She said that Apple programs such as Pages, Numbers, TextEdit and Preview, as well as third-party apps like Nisus Writer Pro, handle attachements differently. It's useful reading.  

If you haven't closed the message with the attached file and try to view the "original" attachment, Mail will show you the copy that’s stored in Mail Downloads — the one you edited. But if you do close the message, then reopen it and double-click the attachment, you will see the original version. That’s because Mail saves a fresh copy of the attachment to Mail downloads when you reopen the message, and that’s the file that opens.

To avoid this mess, the best way to open an attachment in one of these non-Apple programs is to first explicitly save it from Mail into an appropriate folder with File > Save Attachments or by using the Attachments pop-up menu on the header divider. Then you can open and edit that copy of the file in the app.

Of course, with the compatibility situation, there's interest in Mail alternatives. A new one is coming from Dropbox, a Mac version of the mobile client Mailbox, currently offered for iOS and Android platforms.

Mailbox for Mac has been another labor of love for our team. It’s the product of painstaking iteration (over, and over, and over) to build the lightest, fastest, most delightful desktop mail client ever. You can watch a demo of the app during the Dropbox keynote, and sign up to get early access here. We’ve still got quite a bit of work to do, but we’ll be adding people to the beta as quickly as we can.  

Editorial standards