Fix Mac Mail Problems With These Troubleshooting Guides

Use Mail's own built-in troubleshooting tools

When Apple Mail—the default email app on the Mac—doesn't work as expected, the problem is usually easy to fix. Here's what to do to get your email coming and going again as it should.

Causes of Mac Mail Not Working

Typically, problems with Mail come down to incorrect configurations or the need to apply a recent update to the app. Inconsistent internet connections and mail service provider outages can cause Mail to stop working, too.

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How to Fix Mac Mail Not Working

The best place to start when diagnosing and fixing problems with Mail is the tools that Apple provides. From there, we look at a few more specific fixes for some issues you might encounter.

  1. Use the correct settings for your email provider. Mail usually picks up the right settings automatically when you enter the information for your email accounts, but sometimes, these settings need adjusting. Incorrect settings can cause problems ranging from failure to send and receive mail to oddities such as a dimmed Send button. (Adjusting the SMTP settings can fix the latter problem.) Mail service providers such as Gmail and Yahoo might have changed their settings, or you might have misconfigured the settings.

  2. Use the Mail troubleshooting tools. Mail is straightforward to set up and use. Apple provides convenient guides that take you through the steps for setting up your accounts in Mail. Apple also provides a few troubleshooting guides designed to help when something isn't working.

    The three main assistants for diagnosing problems are the Activity window, the Connection Doctor, and Mail logs. Learning how to use each of these troubleshooting aids can help you quickly resolve Mail issues.

  3. Repair the Mac's keychain and rebuild your mailbox. This guide for transferring your Mail to a new Mac includes instructions for these procedures, which can help with forgotten passwords, incorrect message counts, and messages that don't display. It can help move your email, too, should you ever need to do so.

  4. Back up or move contacts. If Mail doesn't auto-complete email addresses when you enter them, back up or move your contacts. You might run into this problem if you use Google Drive, Dropbox, or cloud-based services other than iCloud for your email and calendars.

  5. Filter spam. If you get too much junk mail, fine-tune your spam filters. The Mail junk mail filters work pretty well out of the box, but you can get better spam recognition by making a few changes and telling the junk mail system which messages are correctly identified as spam and which ones aren't.

  6. Get iCloud Mail working on the Mac. iCloud offers a selection of cloud-based services for macOS and iOS devices. These include syncing browser bookmarks and login credentials, along with an iCloud-based email system. Setup is easy. Mail knows most of the settings an iCloud mail account needs, so you don't need to search for server names to get iCloud mail up and running.

  7. Check your internet connection. Your device might have lost its connection to the internet, or your internet service provider might be experiencing an outage.

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