Beware Mail Data Loss in Catalina

Sorry if I wasn’t clear about turning off the wifi. I’m off line altogether at that point; no ethernet, no nothing.

So it clearly relates to being able to talk to the mail server, but there’s a failure in that communication that seems to be exclusive to the computer running Catalina.

I have been checking with GoDaddy and can’t find anything and they claim there’s no issue on their end.

Can you get them to say if other people are having similar problems?

James, does you MacBook exhibit the same behavior on multiple (unrelated) wifi networks? Do other Macs on the same wifi network work correctly?

A post was merged into an existing topic: macOS 10.15 Catalina Ships, Upgrade with Caution

In Catalina, my Mail app displays most messages correctly, but some messages have content replaced by the question-mark-in-a-box character and others have parts of the content missing entirely. Some of these message errors occur in a corporate Gmail account that I read in Mail (and I can see those messages just fine at, but other messages occur in an IMAP account (through DreamHost, and these appear fine in the webmail client).

Seriously frustrating. FWIW, I love InfoClick, and that’s displaying things funny, too.

Still not safe in 10.15.2…

That normally indicates a font issue. I would start by using Font Book to Validate all your fonts and eliminate any duplicates it finds.

Thanks! I actually tried that already, on someone else’s recommendation, but no luck.

I need to buy a new MacBook Pro (which will have Catalina installed) and migrate my data to it, including a large amount of POP email in On My Mac.

My current MBP is a 2017 model, running Mojave (10.14.6).

What is the easiest way of making sure I don’t lose my email?

If it’s on a backup clone, will I later be able to import it?

Thank you,


It’s likely to be OK, but if you wanted to be extra careful, you could archive it using EagleFiler or MailArchiver X or MailSteward or such an app. That way no matter what Mail did to it, you’d be fine.

In your case, however, since it’s all POP, it should just be .mbox files on your backup, which means that bringing it back in again shouldn’t be terrible.

It’s likely to be OK, but if you wanted to be extra careful, you could archive it using EagleFiler or MailArchiver X or MailSteward or such an app. That way no matter what Mail did to it, you’d be fine.

I see now that 10.15.3 supposedly avoids the problem, but I couldn’t wait any longer and finally migrated to the new machine (running 10.15.2) last week.

As it turned out, I did lose massive numbers of messages, but luckily I had taken your advice and archived everything in EagleFiler beforehand, which I highly recommend.

(The advantage over importing from a backup is that message status is preserved, plus of course you offload inactive messages from Mail.)

In many ways this was a blessing in disguise, since I had been wanting to create an archive for a long time and had just been putting it off.

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I’m sorry to hear that you lost email, of course, but glad my advice was spot on. And EagleFiler is a good solution there. And doubly appropriate that it worked for you given that the author, @mjtsai, has been the primary conduit for warnings about Mail in Catalina.

FWIW, this morning I saw what appeared to this problem in Mail Version 12.4 (3445.104.14) on macOS 10.14.6 (18G5033) Mojave.

In Trash, I have an On My Mac folder. In that folder, I have messages from Lending Tree. (Aside: I never even visited Lending Tree’s web site and I don’t know where it got my email address, but I get a message or two each month. I move said messages to this folder.) There are three messages from entities other than Lending Tree in this On My Mac folder. This morning, I received a Lending Tree message, and for no reason in particular, I opened an earlier message. The body was missing.

The three other messages, all older than the oldest Lending Tree message, still have information in the body. All Lending Tree messages from January (that’s when they started arriving) have empty bodies. All Lending Tree messages from February and later still have the body contents.

For one message, I chose View > Message > All Headers; all header information disappeared. I then chose View > Message > Raw Source; the new window was empty. I was able to copy a message that still displayed body contents back to a folder on the original server. Attempts to copy a message that had the body missing back to the original server failed.

In this case, I don’t really care, but it will make me more cautious about using On My Mac, even on Mojave.

If you scroll to the bottom of nearly any commercial email message, there will be an Unsubscribe link that you can click to remove yourself from their list. It’s absolutely worth doing—don’t put up with unwanted email, however you started getting it.

My only question is if the Lending Tree message could have been loading most or all of its content remotely, such that after a certain time, they remove the source material from wherever it’s being loaded from.

That’s good advice if the unsubscribe is legit.

Problem is, I’ve read that some spammers use such unsubscribe links to verify that their spam has been read by an actual human instead of just ending up filtered out to /dev/null. That in turn makes the email address of somebody who actually hit that link much more valuable and spam volume increases accordingly.

It would be nice to know if there’s any hints as to which unsubscribe links are legit and which essentially mean you’re signing up for even more spam. I’d like to think if it’s from a reputable company the link is likely legit, but then again, I’d think reputable companies don’t start spamming people in the first place.

I simply decide based on whether the email actually originates from the a legit organization indicated on the “From:” line using SpamCop. I also hover over the “unsubscribe” link to see if it matches that organization. One problem with that is I occasionally see that it’s from a third party the organization used for bulk mail purposes. I can usually recognize those, as well.

I’ve forgotten who it was that recommended a few years back that they started using those unsubscribe links again with great success, but I’ve certainly found the same to be true.

I assume Lending Tree is a reputable outfit and would honor an unsubscribe request, but I remember being cautioned never to click on unsubscribe because it just confirms that the target address is valid. (I see @Simon made this point, and @alvarnell addressed it.) However, the primary reason I haven’t unsubscribed is because I wonder who Lending Tree thinks is the recipient and why, and maybe I’ll get a clue. And it’s only 1.5 messages per month.

One strike against Lending Tree is that the first message it sent asked me to confirm my email address; I did not reply in any fashion, yet I continue to receive messages.

I have Mail > Preferences > Viewing > Load remote content in messages unchecked, so I believe that should not be a factor. Also, the body is completely blank, so even non-remote content (which did exist earlier) is failing to be displayed. (I assume my preference regarding remote content is being honored because I often have gaps in other commercial email that I receive.)

If this isn’t a scam, then that mail is probably the result of someone providing your e-mail address and Lending Tree is asking for confirmation. But normally, such confirmation messages mean the address will later be dropped if there is no reply - which doesn’t seem to have happened here.

This reminds me a bit of the same thing from Netflix. I got several e-mails from them claiming that I subscribed and need to go create a password and register payment. We have a subscription, but it’s using my wife’s e-mail address, not mine.

I called Netflix customer service. They confirmed that the mail is real and that “someone” must have signed up using my e-mail address, and that I should just ignore it because the account doesn’t have any payment mechanism on file. I demanded that they delete the account (Netflix doesn’t actually give you a way to do that - you can only stop the service and payment) and they did.

A month later, the cycle repeated.

Should I start treating Netflix as a criminal scam organization? It’s really tempting and I would except for the fact that the rest of my family really likes the service.

First off, that worry about somehow “confirming” your email address to spammers hasn’t been true for many years. Spam is about sending as much as possible, not careful targeting. Billions of email addresses have been revealed in security breaches, so it’s trivial for spammers to get your email address along with a few billion of your closest carbon-based life forms. No one is special when it comes to spam. Use an email service with good spam filtering or rely on a tool like SpamSieve and move on. Thinking about spam is a waste of time.

Second, I would hope that everyone here would be able to tell the difference between legitimate (if unwanted) commercial email and spam. If you’ve ever heard of the company, it’s legit. If you can find the company’s Web site with a quick Google search, it’s legit. Just look at your actual spam folder and scan through some of the messages. They’re obviously spam. Don’t click any links in spam.

And yes, I know there are some phishing messages that can fool people. But 99% of the commercial mail you see in your Inbox is from companies you’ve ordered from once, filled out a form with, or otherwise been connected to in some way. Just unsubscribe and move on. If you’re asked to provide a password before unsubscribing, it’s phishing and you shouldn’t do it.

Finally, speaking as someone who sends hundreds of thousands of messages per month, it’s really annoying (and damaging) when people mark legitimate mail as spam just because they don’t want to get it anymore. That’s what the %^^$&* Unsubscribe links are for.


Since you’re using iCloud, the next question is what happens when you look at those messages on