FIX: Apple Mail default MoveTo "defaulted folder" pointing to wrong folder

In Apple Mail the App will choose a default folder for the Move To contextual menu that it ‘thinks’ is the right one after monitoring the previous move history for a ‘From’ address. A problem occurs when the one it chooses is not the one the user wishes to be. Unfortunately, this is neither selectable or changeable by the user unless the user creates a new user folder and moves their existing information into it. Additionally, aside from taking a significant amount of time to do, much of the critical information needed for Mail, Contacts, and Notes can be lost in the process if the user is not experienced with the workarounds. Contact with Apple Senior Enterprise Support over many hours and sending data to Apple over a period of several weeks has failed to offer a solution other than above along with the hope that eventually the monitoring history might change it to the desired folder.

However, I have discovered a very simple solution - no thanks to Apple. All a user needs to do is temporary change the name of the undesired folder. Then the App, not knowing where the folder it expected to use is, will drop the undesired default folder name and learn the name of the desired folder, based on the user moving with the basic contextual Move To an email with the concerned email address to the desired folder. Once this is done (might take several times for Apple Mail to ‘Learn’, the desired folder name will now appear in the Move To command as the default folder. At this point the undesired folder name can be renamed back to its original name if desired. Here are the steps in Apple Mail:

  • Rename (temporarily if you wish) to a new name
  • Choose a desired message in the Inbox and use the contextual menu to move it into the desired folder
  • Repeat the process with a similar message in the Inbox to verify the correct default folder appears
  • Rename the previously renamed folder back to its original name if desired.
    This tip is effective in the Mail App contextual menus and has not been tested with the Move To in the Tool Bar. This tip has only been tested in Catalina.

Because you refer to Catalina, I assume you are discussing the Mac Mail app, not the mobile one (Folks, please specify the environment when the app appears in both).

Anyway, I don’t see the problem. Apple suggests an appropriate folder in 3 places:

  1. The toolbar–if I don’t like the suggested move, I can tap the downfacing arrow to the right and scroll through the list to an appropriate mailbox (or just ignore the suggested move)

  2. The Message dropdown menu–If I don’t like the suggestion, the next item in the dropdown is an open-ended ‘Move To’ item that prompts a full list of possibilities

  3. The suggestion also shows up in the contextual menu triggered by doing a secondary click on the message in the index list. Handing is the same as in 2).

If I need to create a new Mailbox, I can do that from the Mailbox Menu before activating any of the ‘Move To’ options.

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Thank you for your comments. However I feel you described a user workaround for the issue. The fix I suggested is for correcting an incorrect suggested move. If the suggested move is correct, it improves productivity. MacOS, Apple Tech Support or Engineering is unable to provide a solution to change the suggested move other then by rebuilding your user folder from scratch or hope MacOS decides you wish to have a different suggested folder. My fix puts control back into the users hands, something that Apple should have included but did not.

A referral to Macintosh is included by the reference of Catalina and contextual menus, not present in IOS. Additionally IOS has no provision to edit mailbox folder names in the App.However you make a good point as it is more user friendly to specify the platform in the beginning of the article. Being old school and using Mac Desktops as my primary Apple product along with the length of time that Tidbits has been around I simply did not consider the mobile devices. I will endeavor to do that in the future.

I’ve been frustrated by this faulty “feature” in Mail for awhile. I just tried your suggested solution and unfortunately it didn’t work for me (Catalina), unless there’s a minimum threshold for moving emails into the renamed folder that I didn’t reach (I tried multiple emails multiple times).

In a sub-folder I have other folders named only by the year. Ever since Jan. 1 of 2021 I can’t get Mail to learn to suggest “2021” as the default folder for a move for multiple emails I get from the same sender almost daily, it insists on sticking with “2020” no matter what. Similar issues with less frequently used moved emails.

The abandonment of the MailHub plugin caused a big loss in productivity for those of us that had used it for years. I use MsgFiler now but it doesn’t do what MailHub could. Even with MsgFiler I’d still like the default “Move” option in Mail to work as intended.

Sorry to hear it did not work for you. I just fixed a errant folder last night and it worked for me. One issue might be if you rename the changed folder too soon. In renaming last night I also discovered something very interesting. The font icons that you get with keys and the Option key can be used in the name of a mailbox folder. Here is an example: “Archive”.