iOS13's Email Problem Continues

Although I’ve benefited from TidBITS for years as a lurker, I haven’t contributed any posts to TidBITS-Talk. Let me share this experience while it’s fresh. Maybe it’ll help someone.

I had been following the tales about the iOS13 Mail app problem. I had held out for several months and several updates, figuring that they’d fix the problem by the time they reached version 13.3.1. However, this time, waiting didn’t help. After I updated from iOS12 to iOS13 yesterday, all the email in the Mail app showed the sender as “No Sender.” I thought something along the lines of, “Darn, I guess I have some troubleshooting to do.” This post is kind of long, but knowing that this problem is still prevalent, here’s my experience. Before starting, the obligatory details: I have a 2010 tower PowerMac running OS High Sierra (10.13.6) and an iPhone 7 Plus.

Based on recommendations I found online:

  • I restarted the Mail app, but no change.
  • I restarted the iPhone, but that didn’t help, either.
  • I deactivated, then reactivated, the email accounts on the iPhone, the last non-destructive thing I could find.
  • After that didn’t solve it, I deleted the accounts and re-created them on the iPhone. This did change something—it left me with mailboxes that showed no email at all, and the words “No Email” in the middle of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, it showed that there were 6 unread emails and that it had just been updated.

I was now out of possible solutions that I wanted to attempt on my own, so I resorted to contacting Apple. As a long-time user, I can remember the time when Apple didn’t offer the support that they do now. Back in the 1990s, specialized software and huge, thick books that explained the old Mac OS and provided troubleshooting tips were my best friends. It’s now 2020. Last night, without me having to pay Apple a penny, I received great support. Shawn came on the chat after I waited a couple of minutes, and, after confirming everything I did, and talking to a senior advisor, told me the only path was to restore the iPhone using the backup on my computer. I didn’t want to do that much work, but that being the only option, that’s where we went.

Unfortunately, when I connected my phone to my computer (the first time I had done so after upgrading the iOS), I got a weird dialog box on my computer saying, “A software update is required to connect to the iPhone. Would you like to download and install this update now?” I was in a computer catch-22: I needed to connect to the computer to restore the iPhone, but couldn’t. I’m sure if I had the most recent OS, I wouldn’t have gotten this dialog box, but with my old Mac, I cannot update the OS beyond High Sierra.

To get over this issue, I first had to install a new update for my computer. Restarting the computer ended my chat with Shawn, but I knew what I needed to be done. Even after installing the OS update, I got the same weird message in the last paragraph, so I chose to install it. The installation process proceeded glacially, but I let it run for at least an hour before my patience had become exhausted. Thankfully, after restarting the computer, iTunes recognized my iPhone, so I could proceed to restore and reload the backup. It took several hours, but now Mail works, as does everything else I’ve tried so far.

The standard lesson learned of having a backup was reinforced, even if the most recent backup was a few days old. Other lessons learned included:

  • I had already verified that the essential apps were compatible with iOS13 (not a given; the website for one of them didn’t say it was compatible with 13)
  • Before contacting Apple, I tried some basic, non-destructive troubleshooting steps.
  • By not having the latest OS on my Mac, the troubleshooting process was somewhat more complicated than it would have been, but not excessively so.
  • Apple’s support team handled it well. Shawn was invariably in the dark about my computer configuration, but he had someone to go to for additional information, and he did an excellent job of assessing what I had tried and skipping those steps in his recommendation.

While the support helped and was greatly appreciated, I hope that Apple is able to fix this problem. I think that an extra step in the installation process that checks for incompatibilities, and informs the users that the email database needs to be rebuilt, would greatly help.


Those iTunes updates for new iOS device compatibility are terribly confusing. Does anyone know what happens in Catalina with the Finder taking over iOS device syncing?

I don’t have a complete answer, but it would appear that the MobileDevice.framework (and other components) updates that have been used in the past to allow iTunes to properly access newly released iDevices has been replaced by /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/AMPDevices.framework. Some explanation can be found in AMPDevicesAgent? What Is It?