Mac Mail app says I'm not me

I have a couple of Gmail accounts along with an iCloud mail account. I use the Apple Mail app on my iMac.

Incoming mail to one of my Gmail accounts has my email address correct, but it displays the name of another person (e.g. Joe Smith) instead of Nick Pappas. This Joe Smith name is the name of a person for whom I recently created a contact card in Contacts recently. In an attempt to get it to display my name, I have done the following:

  1. Deleted Joe Smith from my Contacts.

  2. Deleted Joe Smith from Mail’s Previous recipients.

  3. Checked setting in Mail prefs. All look OK.

  4. Quit and restarted Mail.

  5. Restarted iMac.

  6. Logged into that Gmail account via Safari and could find no relevant setting (like an alias?). Couldn’t find any way to do alias in Gmail, so maybe I missed something.

This problem is not happening in my other Gmail account.

This problem does not occur on my iOS devices where my name is properly displayed in the header.

So this appears as if there is some secret place where Mail app has gotten confused? Any suggestions on where else to look?

I see this with my iCloud email account when I receive my reply to a TidBits Talk message. It’s always the name of the person to whom I replied. I don’t believe it applies to any other list or other email, so I doubt it has anything to do with Apple Mail but have assumed it’s a Discourse oddity.

Does the mail show the correct name when viewed in the GMail web interface?

Does it happen with all messages addressed to you or just some of them? What if you send mail to yourself (e.g. from your iCloud account to your GMail)?

GMail web interface shows my name correctly.

It happens to all messages addressed to me.

Then it gets interesting…
If I compose a message in Mac from iCloud account to Gmail, when I type in my Gmail address, it offers to auto-fill it with proper address, but other person’s name.
If I do same in iOS, it makes same offer, but shows an “info” icon. If I click the icon, I have an opportunity to delete from Recents. I did so and iOS now seems to have forgotten that other name. Nonetheless, when the mail arrives at Mac, the other person’s name is there.

However, Mac Mail client still remembers it and doesn’t off a way to forget it when I compose messages.

Any ideas?

Thanks for the clarification. This definitely sounds like a bug in Mail. Unfortunately, I can’t help beyond that because I don’t use Mail (I generally use web access or Thunderbird).

You might want to try creating a new login account on your Mac, manually setting up Mail over there. See if the problem happens from that account or not. If it doesn’t, then you know you’ve got a corrupt configuration file somewhere. Even if you don’t know which file has been corrupted, you may be able to delete/re-create Mail’s accounts or blow away its configuration altogether. (Of course, make a backup before you do this, in case there are unexpected side effects.)

I would recommend (in addition to any other suggestions) that you report this bug to Apple via Feedback: You may not get a response, but it is possible that they have not seen this bug before, so a report is important.

thanks for the reply. I’ll send in a report.

I’ll consider deleting the account on my Mac and recreating it.

The only thing that you didn’t mention was whether the “Smart addresses” setting is on (in the View pane in Preferences). If it is, and you turn it off, does that help?

I guess the other place I would look is in the Accounts pane of Preferences. In the Account Information tab for the account there is a setting for “Email addresses”. Is the setting correct there? (There is an edit in the dropdown for that setting.)

Before you do that, you should start by creating a new “test” Mac login account and set up Mail there. If that doesn’t work, then blowing away the configuration from your normal account won’t work either.

Also, you can use this test login as a place to experiment with different preferences, in case the problem is being caused by one.

Once you’re done with these experiments, you can delete that test account.

Smart Addresses setting is off. It was never on.

Email addresses appears correct and when I click on the dropdown, it shows correctly there.

not sure I understand. are you suggesting creating an identical mail account while the first one still exists? you can do that?

I don’t know if this helps your situation. When entering a To: address, and Mail offers suggestions, accept the one you want. At the end of the completed address is a dropdown menu that includes “Edit Address” and “Remove Address”. Maybe that’s similar to what you’re getting in iOS?

No. I’m saying you should create a new macOS Login account. If you go to System Preferences and open the “Users & Groups” panel, you can create new users. Create a new (non-administrator) account. You can then log-out from your normal account and log-in to the account you just created.

As a multi-user operating system, macOS keeps separate sets of preferences for each user for most features, including e-mail. So when you log in to a different account, you will be operating under a completely separate set of preferences.

From the new macOS account, start Mail and configure it for your various e-mail accounts. If they are IMAP-based (as Google and iCloud are), then you will see the same mailboxes and contacts lists.

If the problem doesn’t happen in the new macOS account, then you know that one of your per-user preferences (probably for the Mail app) is the cause of the problem. If the problem does happen in the new account, then you know that there’s something in the remote mail server (Google or iCloud) that is triggering a Mail bug.

Once you’ve determined this, you can log-out from the new account and log-in to your original account, where everything will be as you left it. (You can later use the Users & Groups preference panel to delete the new account when you’re done with it.)

If it turns out that the problem is in your mail account (problem happens in the new macOS account), then you can start looking there for a solution. Delete/disable individual accounts to determine which one is causing the problem and then look closely at its content and configuration. And report all your learned to Apple so their engineers can (hopefully) fix the Mail bug.

If it turns out that the problem is in Mail’s local configuration (problem does not happen in the new macOS account), then you can start looking through its configurations to see if changing anything helps. You can also delete Mail’s preference files altogether, forcing the app to start from scratch, which should fix the problem if it’s due to some corruption that the normal preference configuration can’t fix.

Good luck.

it happens only in my original Mac user account, not in the the mail account I set up in the new Mac user account. I conclude the problem is in the Mail config (PLIST?) file(s) for mail in my original Mac account. Any idea where to find he correct file to delete?

That’s great news. I don’t know, specifically, what files might be in play here, but I can suggest where to look first.

Folders containing Mail’s files are (based on what I see on my Mac running macOS 10.12 Sierra) are:

  • ~/Library/Mail
  • ~/Library/Preferences
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Mail
  • ~/Library/Containers/

Note that the ~/Library folder is hidden in the Finder (unless you took special steps to make it visible). To get there, select Go -> Go To Folder... from the menu bar. Then type ~/Library in the box and click Go.

Note that ~/Library/Preferences will have preference files from a lot of applications, not just Mail. Most (but not all) of the files follow a “reverse DNS” naming convention, so Mail-related files will probably have names starting with

The other folders will be Mail-specific, but they will contain more than just preferences. (Preference files usually have names ending in .plist.) They will also contain account configuration and locally-cached copies of any mail messages (including your only copy of any messages downloaded via the POP3 protocol), so you want to be careful with what you delete. Additionally, if your Mac has been in use for a long time, you will probably find files leftover from older versions of Mail that are no longer used.

Don’t forget to make a backup copy of anything you delete or edit. Even better, make a full system backup before you start making any changes. This way, you can undo anything you changed, in case it creates problems.

Unfortunately, since I don’t use Mail, I can’t help beyond this point. Hopefully there will be someone else reading this that can provide more concrete information.

I found the file deep inside the Containers folder. Deleting it made no difference. still getting that other person’s name.

probably time to call AppleCare.

Take a look at the account in Mail preferences. Check “Description” in both Account Information and in Server Settings for the outgoing server.

yes, those settings are OK.

Update: I called AppleCare. we went through everything suggested here. We deleted various files in user and system libraries. We booted into Safe Mode. The problem is being elevated to Engineering. I uploaded logs and a screenshot. They promise to get back to me within 4 days.

Wonderful! So in addition to getting your Mail working, this may result in a bug-fix for the application.

“may” is the right word. assuming they find the bug. I followed this path several months ago. It took about 6 months until the bug was fixed and appeared in a MacOS update.