Sonoma Mail emails not visible

I just updated my Studio Max M1 from Ventura to Sonoma.

When opening up the Mail app, no emails appear in the various email folders I have created. The only folder that DOES show all the mail is the “All Inboxes” folder, but none in the Flagged, All Sent, Unread Mail smart folder nor any of the various folders where rules sent the emails.

I have rebuilt the mailboxes, re-indexed the mailboxes by removing the “Envelope Indexes” files and re-creating them when Mail is opened. I have deleted and re-created the various Smart Mailboxes with associated filters.

Still no change in behavior.

Any clues or tips as to what I could try next would be most appreciated.

Have you tried clicking Mail > View > Filter > Disable Message Filter? (Command-L toggles it on and off.)

Last week I “upgraded” my 2019 iMac to Sonoma. When I went to open Mail it displayed a splash window with something about it needs to update the email data. That took several minutes. It sounds like this went wrong in your case.
Hopefully your emails are also stored online in iCoud or similar, in which case you might try deleting the (Sonoma) accounts and log into them again.
Alternatively, do you have a Time Machine backup before the Sonoma upgrade? You might be able to restore the Mail data from that and see if Sonoma Mail is able to work with that.

Forgot to mention that, but have done “Mail > View > Filter > Disable Message Filter” multiple times. Thanks for the tip though!

Any other tips?

I guess that’s a pretty big reason to continuing holding off on Sonoma. No way do I have the time or patience to recreate and redistribute all my years and years of email among my numerous folders. Why does Apple keep messing up their own Mail app!

You may have already taken this into account, but just in case, when you toggle the Message Filter, which mailbox do you have selected? If you select All Inboxes, does it have an effect there?

Another good tip. Unfortunately, I have checked that for all the important mailboxes.

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You had said that All Inboxes has messages in it. When you select it and can see it has messages in it, then enable the Message Filter, what happens?

[Edited to change “disable” to “enable.”]

Perhaps your setup is different than mine, but here’s an excerpt of my Mail window:

With the “All Inboxes” folder selected, all the emails appear in the next column. If I expand the All Inboxes folder (as in the image above), the individual mailboxes appear below All Inboxes. If I select one of those mailboxes, only those emails marked as being in that mailbox appear in the next column.

How does what you’re seeing differ? Does your All Inboxes folder not expand into a list of sub-mailboxes? Do the messages that appear in the next column not have the small text indication (on the right, next to the date) showing what mailbox they’re in? Or are you saying (using my picture as substitute for your Mail window) if you click All Inboxes, the display is the same as mine, but if you click the mailbox “iCloud”, even the messages that say they’re in that mailbox in the All Inboxes view do not appear?

If I’m still not understanding, perhaps you could post a similar screenshot and use it to illustrate what you’re seeing.

Presumably this is IMAP or iCloud mail…what do you see on the web interface eg

Nope, POP.
My apologies; I should have listed that in my original email.

Do you have a backup made before installing Sonoma?

Testing now, but you may be on to something.

When I turn the arrow for “All Inboxes”, I do see folders for the three email accounts I have. Clicking on each email account folder, I see only the emails from that account. With the filter for “show unread only” enabled, I see only the unread emails. With the filter turned off, I see all the emails with the unread ones scattered throughout the list sorted by time.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

I have “All Inboxes” or any of its sub account mailboxes selected. Each sub-account mailbox correctly shows the emails in that account.

I then select ANY other email folder (All Sent, Flagged, etc. or any of the smart mailboxes such as Today, or any of of the smart mailboxes I’ve created such as Unread Mail or the names of particular people) and those mailboxes show whatever emails were in the previously selected email account. NOT emails associated with the currently selected mailbox.

The emails that are correctly shown in any of the sub-account mailboxes will continue to be shown in ANY other non-account mailbox UNTIL I receive an incoming email then all the non-account email folders go blank.

This first screen shot shows “All Inboxes” selected in the left column and the unread emails shown in the right column. “Show Unread Only” filter is enabled.

This screenshot shows the “Today” mailbox selected and in the right column are the exact same unread emails as previously shown in the “All Mailboxes” selection. Note that only two of the emails are actually from Today.

If I was to wait until a new email was received, the Today mailbox would go blank, showing no emails at all.

Interesting. Especially your report that the All Sent folder is empty. That’s not a “Smart Mailbox”, afaik. At least, I don’t see any way to change its definition, and it too has the same list of mailboxes within it as the All Inboxes folder.

The only Smart Mailbox we have in common is the Today mailbox. I never use it, but I took a look. At first, I thought mine was broken too, since it only showed one email, and it was not from today. But when I looked at the definition, I found this:

No idea if that is the default definition, but according to that rule, it was actually working correctly. So I’m wondering if your other “smart” mailboxes are mis-defined somehow? Even if the definitions appear correct, you ought to be able to delete and recreate these mailboxes fairly quickly. Fixing All Sent, though, may prove to be a tougher problem.

I must have mis-typed somewhere above; “All Sent” works properly for me.

FWIW: I have previously deleted and recreated all of my Smart Folders (such as "Unread Mail Folder with definition of “all unread mail”). No change in behavior: Unread Mail folder shows all the emails from whatever inboxes under All Inboxes I had previously selected, regardless of whether they have been read or not. Until a new email arrives, then Unread Mail goes blank showing no emails.

So in hopes of narrowing the scope of the issue, is it fair to say that Mail is working correctly for you except for Smart Mailboxes? And further, none of your Smart Mailboxes are working correctly (i.e., not respecting their defined rules)? For example, if you create a new Smart Mailbox with the rule “From contains Willow Valley” (based on the screen shots you posted earlier), that mailbox will not show the Willow Valley emails.

To eliminate possible confusion, before going further I would disable the Message Filter for each mailbox you have, one by one, carefully verify its status by noting whether the Filter icon in the toolbar is blue (enabled) or gray (disabled), then check to see if you are experiencing the same mailbox behaviors as before.

[Edit]: Be sure to disable the Message Filter for all the parent folders (All Inboxes, All Sent, etc.) as well as the subfolders within them.

I created a new Smart Mailbox, named it “Willow Valley” and set the rule to “From: Contains:” with “include messages from Trash” and “Include messages from Sent”.

No Willow Valley emails appear when the Willow Valley smart mailbox is selected.

Of course, as before, if I select “All Inboxes”, all my emails from all accounts appear, then select the Willow Valley smart mailbox, all the emails from all accounts are still visible.

Selecting the Junk or Trash mailbox (under All My Mac) clears all emails away, then selecting Willow Valley again shows zero emails even with Filter Enabled with all options enabled (Include Unread and Flagged, and addressed To: and CC: .

I can find no way to get Willow Valley emails to appear in the Willow Valley Smart Mailbox folder.

To reiterate several other posters, here, you have made a TimeMachine or other backup recently? If you haven’t, please do so even if things seem cocked-up.

To me, the red flag is that you rebuilt the envelope index and it had no effect. With the index rebuilt those (rebuilt) searches should at least partially work and they’re not working.

You could restore the mail folder from a prior-to-Sonoma backup (without Mail running please :slight_smile: ). Mail will “upgrade” the database again. It’s worth a try.

But, although we all really don’t like calling Apple Support (because, well) I think in this case they will be interested in this because of what you said at the beginning: you rebuilt the index and searches still failed.

Best of luck!


I don’t recall the macOS version/build being mentioned in this thread. I experienced failing Smart Mailboxes in one Sonoma Beta revision on an M1 MBP, but it was corrected in a later release. I have never seen this problem on my Intel Mini with 14.0(Build 23A344) as the first Sonoma upgrade.

Comparison between the same user on Intel 13.x and M1 Beta release showed that, in my case, the Smart Folder problem was limited to the M1 MBP for a time. I did not have time to test, but did wonder if Spotlight indexing was implicated. I simply put in Feedback on the problem and noticed it was corrected sometime later.