Latest fuckery

Here's a fresh hell that began about two months ago. My inbox has messages like:

  1. Subject A
  2. Re: Subject B
  3. Re: Subject B
  4. Re: Subject B
  5. Re: Subject B

And here's what happens:

  • I click on message 1. I see it.
  • I click on message 2. I see it.
  • I click on message 3. It is selected in the list, but the body displayed is message 2.
  • Click on message 4. Still looking at message 2.
  • Whack-a-mole between messages 2, 3, 4 and 5 in any order. No change.
  • Click on message 1 (different subject) then back to any of 2, 3, 4 or 5: get to see the proper message.

  • Click on message 1. See it.
  • Click message 5. See it.
  • Click on message 4. Looking at message 5.
  • Click on message 3. Looking at message 5.
  • Click on message 2. Now I see message 2.

"Organize by conversation" and "Show related messages" are both off.

This doesn't happen all the time, and not in every folder, maybe, but it screws up consistently enough that I have come to expect it, and it's getting really irritating.

This is the class of bug I would have expected from the Netscape Communicator team, FFS.


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32 Responses:

  1. This has been driving me bonkers. It threads when I don’t want it to, suppresses parts of messages, forbids replying to things you can see, and associates messages that are unrelated.

    Also: search is slow/rarely works, “Smart” mailboxes hardly are.

    • jwz says:

      For the slow search thing, this helped, but not with this mystery-message-body thing:

      sqlite3 ~/Library/Mail/V10/MailData/Envelope Index vacuum

  2. gz says:

    I haven't used for ages, never liked it nffp.

  3. Carlos says:

    So, Apple's mail client is now maintained and tested by ... developers who do not use, and perhaps have never used, Apple's mail client?  Or maybe any mail client?



  4. delete “Envelope Index” or “Envelope Index-wal.” From ~/Library/Mail/

    It is nondestructive and the rebuild will cure all kinds of fuckery ™

  5. Matthew says:

    How attached are you to If I were you I'd start looking for something else.

  6. Michel says:

    Not quite sure whether you're referring to the phone app, the mac app, or whatever the domain name is, but yeah.

    I've noticed for quite a lot longer than the phone app has a tendency to show me a random message I've already read when I open it, instead of doing the sensible thing and showing the all inboxes list. Not consistently, obviously, just every now and then.

  7. Alan Ralph says:

    It turns out that there are additional options, but you need to go into Mail > Settings > Viewing to find them, because Apple. 🤷 Or perhaps because the developers don't want you to disable the conversation view completely because... I don't know, maybe it'll cause a rip in the space-time continuum, or summon Cthulhu? (Some might consider that a plus, given our current timeline.)

    • jwz says:

      Yeah all of that junk is un-checked as well.

      I do use View / Show Related Messages on occasion as needed, but I find that I just never, ever want to see a threaded view.

      • Alan Ralph says:

        I forked over a small amount of money several years back for MailMate on the Mac, and haven't regretted it. Heck, I'd choose Thunderbird if I had to. At this point, is Cursed and has been for years.

      • db48x says:

        I am merely curious, but why don’t you want a threaded view? Personally I don’t use anything but a threaded view.

        • jwz says:

          I have no grand philosophical answer to this, I just usually find it to add noise rather than be helpful, except for cases when I specifically want to use the thread as a breadcrumb to find something else.

        • thielges says:

          For normal usage of reading incoming mail realtime as it arrives, I find threaded view more confusing than helpful.  I only use threaded when away from mail for a few days/weeks to quickly catch up on conversations I missed.  MS-Outlook has a "show messages in this conversation" function that dynamically generates threaded views on-demand, providing the needed temporary threaded views without needing to toggle modes or getting in the way of normal daily usage.  That works fine and the dreaded threaded view evaporates when done catching up on that thread.

          What confuses me about threaded view is that the chronology isn't very obvious and if you expand messages to figure out "Is Alice responding to Bob or Charles?" questions you get the (expected) redundancy spiced with irregularity.  For example you might see GedcaFedcbaEdcbaDcbaCbaBaA where the UPPERs are the individual mails sent and the lowers are the messages being replied to.  Or maybe I'm just too dull to grok that rendering.

          • db48x says:

            Ah, see the threaded view in my email client only shows one message at a time. It just shows that one message in the context of the other messages in the thread. It looks like yours shows you all of them at once, so the quoted bits are repetitive. Combine that with everyone’s bad habit of excessive quoting (and writing their reply above the quoted email) and I’m not surprised that it’s hard to read.

  8. Terry Weissman says:

    jwz - it's clearly time that someone went off and wrote a usable email reader.  Any ideas on who that could be?

    • jwz says:

      I don't even want to learn a new one. I'm too old for this shit.

      • Terry Weissman says:

        Yeah, well, me too.  Fortunately, my employer hasn't yet figured that out.

          • Jeff says:

            I shit you not, but I just switched back to emacs/gnus/bbdb for my primary work email. I'd really like a lotion recommendation for the freezer burn I'm feeling. More than that, though, I'd like a modern email client with sensible quote-replying which also integrates nicely with my calendar, task list, and notes. I have the sad

    • Eric TF Bat says:

      Mail programs are like batteries: the technology hasn't improved significantly in decades, and I'm starting to think that the super-genius who was destined to come up with the next big breakthrough must have died of measles at age three or something, so we are now living in the timeline where all progress has stalled.

      Alternative theory: Eudora got mail exactly right thirty-plus years ago, and nobody has dared to try to improve on their work for fear of also getting bought out by Qualcomm.

      • tfb says:

        Except that battery technology has in fact improved enormously in the last three decades.  In the early 1990s a battery that could power a house for a day would cost about $75,000 and weighed over 100kg.   In 2021 the same thing would cost less than $2,000 and weigh about 40kg.

  9. Aahah Linuxs! says:

    Everything is terrible and everything is getting worse. One of the reasons that  I like "LTS" versions of stuff, is that even if it's terrible (e.g. Gnome) at least I know it's not getting worse while I'm still using the same version. I have (since new Framework laptop, which is in many respects better than the Thinkpad it replaced) stopped using desktop mail. I had to reinstall everything anyway, and I just haven't got around to setting up Thunderbird. I now just use Roundcube. Which is terrible (and in many ways worse than Thunderbird). But I don't expect it to be infected by bullshit. (If SquirrelMail was still supported, I'd probably use that instead.)

    Anyway, moral of the story? Maybe I should have learnt EMACS when I was younger. Though VIM/VI admittedly has always been available, so wasn't actually a waste of time to learn, but which doesn't come with any other software. Pity that EMACS never did get a decent text editor.

    No. I didn't actually have a moral. More just a ... yeah, everything really is shit. (I'm also more than 15 years younger than Jamie.)

  10. mattl says:

    Assuming these are current threads you’ve received with this version of the OS?

    Somewhere there’s someone running Mail with era-appropriate NeXT mailboxes that have dutifully upgraded each version.

  11. tjex says:

    been using Postbox for mac for 8 or so years. Sometimes it has its moments, but in terms of features, customisation and of course interoperability it is far superior than apple mail.

    • tfb says:

      None of the replies of the form 'use this other program' address the critical problem.  Assume I have many mailboxes in many folders, many smart mailboxes possibly also in folders (if they can be, I forget), and many rules which, among other things, put incoming mail in the right place.  And, of course, at least several mail accounts.  Will the new program migrate all this?  Will it do it entirely reliably rather than leaving me in a situation where, in two months time, I find that some migrated version of a rule is not working properly after all, or that a lot of old email just didn't get migrated, or ...  And when, in a few years, the people who provide the new mail program give up on it, how easy will it be to migrate to the next new mail program?

      I've never had to do this for email since I moved to macs, but after a whole succession of iterations of this process with photographs (I think iPhoto to Aperture to something else to something else to fuck this) my library is now maintained by scripts written around exiftool which at least are not going to break and mean I know where everything is, because I am not doing that shit ever again with data (like email and photographs) that I care about.

      • tjex says:

        fair enough. But it's not like every post, or the general atmosphere, on this thread is trying to address the specific problem either. Maybe someone else gets some value from being pointed to an alternate mail program, as there is a general commentary that (and also a good few other mac programs like Logic, Final Cut, iTunes, etc) have progressed in a similar way.
        Such commentary might be supported in a productive way by the suggestion of alternate programs to consider using.

        • jwz says:

          The following is generally true, universally applicable:

          When I post about a specific technical problem, and your suggestion on how to fix it is: "Burn it all down and start over from scratch with something else", then...

          Just fucking DON'T.

          Even if someone else did it first.

  12. chris says:

    I have a good number of users still using It has progressively gotten worse over there years, but this sounds like an indexing problem. Have you tried rebuilding the index? Quit Mail, then navigate to ~/Library/Mail/Vn (pick the biggest number; will depend on the OS)/MailData. Delete all files starting with "Envelope Index", including the tmps. Start Mail. It will go through the process of reindexing everything, so it could take some time. Good luck.

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