Q. Syncing my Gmail to the Mail app in Apple’s new Mavericks computer operating system seems broken; messages keep showing up in the inbox after I move them to other folders. How do I fix this?
A. Upgrading to a new operating system often brings surprise compatibility glitches, but most should only affect a minority of users who have been coloring outside the lines. This time, however, Apple reset how OS X’s Mail app handles Gmail accounts in a way that breaks a widely used synchronization method — and it didn’t warn users about the change.
Instead, I learned about the problem when I read a post by Joe Kissell on the Mac news site TidBITS. He described how Mavericks’ Mail would no longer let him delete or move messages out of a Gmail inbox. Instead, those e-mails would magically reappear once he switched to another mail folder or restarted the app.
Soon enough, I saw the same thing happen in my own copy of Mavericks.
Technically, the issue started years ago, when both Kissell and I made a common adjustment to Gmail settings. The tweak tells Gmail to hide its “All Mail” label from mail programs syncing messages using the IMAP Internet-standard, Internet Message Access Protocol. That switch stops desktop mail apps from fetching an extra copy of every message.
The setup worked fine through multiple OS X releases until Mavericks shipped. Apple PR did not say why the company had made the change or whether it planned to reverse it — although a post Thursday on 9to5Mac reported that the company had begun testing an update to Mail that addresses issues with Gmail. .
Making “All Mail” visible once again to IMAP clients constitutes an ugly solution. You’ll have to wait for Mail to download messages in duplicate — after which other mail programs syncing your Gmail will repeat this bandwidth- and disk-eating exercise, after which you’ll be left with the visual clutter of a mail folder that does nothing.
Hence, a theoretically simple system upgrade can lead to an e-mail existential crisis.
Do you fire Gmail? If you’ve been on the fence about Google’s ad-subsidized service, this could be your excuse. Yahoo Mail, Microsoft’s Outlook.com and Apple’s iCloudmail don’t require tweaks to a regulation IMAP setup, because they don’t offer Gmail-style labels that let one message appear in multiple places.
Or do you fire Apple Mail, quite possibly the only e-mail app you’ve used on a Mac for the last decade?
Using Gmail only on the Web doesn’t work for me — it leaves my ability to read older mail at the mercy of my Internet connection, even when using Google’s Chrome-only Gmail Web app. For the same reason I didn’t like the $24.95 Gmail-specific Mailplane, which essentially runs the Gmail page in a separate window.
The free Mozilla Thunderbird (my onetime mail client in Windows) lost out for its limited support of such Mac features as OS X’s notifications center, and a souped-up, Mac-only, $9.95 version of Tbird named Postbox smoothed over only some of those rough edges.
I did, however, appreciate the $1.99 Airmail, also available as a free beta download. It has a few quirks — displaying messages sent from Gmail, Yahoo and other big-name accounts with icons for the corporations behind each service doesn’t help me find regular correspondents — but it also includes thoughtful features like one-click shortcuts to show every message from a sender.
This app still needs to add the automatic recognition of dates and times in messages through which Apple Mail can create calendar events for you — a Mail option I use all the time — but the developers have said they’re working on that.
TIP: A QUICK SECURITY UPGRADE FOR YAHOO MAIL
Last month, Yahoo revealed that it would make full-time encryption a default for its e-mail service. With this active — an option only since January, well after Google and Microsoft had added it — checking your Webmail on a public Wi-Fi connection runs a much lower risk of a snooper reading your messages.
Yahoo will make this switch in January, but there’s no reason to wait until then. In its current webmail interface, sign into your account, click the gear icon and choose Settings, click the “Security” heading, and click the checkbox next to “Always use HTTPS.”