I’ve been using Apple’s Mail, with varying degrees of frustration, for many years as I’ve not found anything that serves my purposes as well. I upgraded to Big Sur a few weeks ago, without difficulty. Yesterday, suddenly, the mainstay of my use of Mail has stopped working. It’s a smart group containing unread mail in any of my inboxes that’s not already been filtered into other boxes: screenshot attached. Now, it just shows empty all the time. Another oddity is that searching has stopped working, finding no results. I’ve run DU over the disk, which is fine; and I’ve deleted and rebuilt the Spotlight index, but it’s made no difference.

I have an iCloud account, one Exchange and three or four Gmail.

Any ideas? Or should I just use this as the spur to switch to a better app?


Just curious, have you tried rebuilding or creating a new version of that smart mailbox?

Yes, tried both. Didn’t work. The new smart mailbox, which was just “unread”, is empty - and there are 15 unread emails.


Do you use fast user switching? There seems to be an issue where the indexing dies if you fast user switch with mail running. No indexing, no smart mailboxes. Also no search.

Well, I solved the problem by erasing my SSD and doing a clean install of Big Sur, restoring everything by hand rather than using Migration Assistant. In the process, I’ve solved several other issues which had bothered me recently, and as it has been well over a decade since I last did a clean install I expect an awful lot of elderly crud is now not lying around.

It proved an even more involved procedure than it might have been, needing chats to five Apple tech support bods (of varying degrees of competence) and use of Configurator to revive and then reset the iMac’s firmware.

Anyway, all is well that (eventually) ends well.


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Makes you wonder if it was related to clean install or the Configurator/firmware parts. On my main Mac I haven’t done a clean install since about 2003 (Tiger?). :laughing: