Apple Mail mailbox and folders cannot be deleted

Apple Mail Tips and Tricks

Today I have another tip that I just learned myself. It's about folders or mailboxes in Apple Mail that cannot be deleted the normal way. This usually works by right-clicking on the folder in the Apple Mail sidebar and then selecting “Delete Mailbox”. The mail program then throws out a warning message that you confirm and then the corresponding folder should be gone.

These folders could not be deleted in my Apple Mail.
These folders could not be deleted in my Apple Mail.

Local folders on the Time Machine recovery

In my case, it was folders from an IMAP mail account that I restored using Time Machine. I had deleted the mail account itself weeks before, so it was a local folder in Apple Mail. A few support documents indicate that you should contact your mail provider if you have problems with IMAP mailboxes, but - as already mentioned - these were local folders on my Mac.

You can see that I'm not the only person with the problem in question this and this Entry in the Apple support community. Among all the hints that you can find there, there was only one tip that really helped.

Manually deleting the folders from “Library/Mail/”

The solution to the problem works by deleting the mailbox files from the folder in which Apple Mail manages all of its data. The folder can be found on macOS Mojave under this path:

/ Library / Mail / V6

In older macOS systems the folder is V2, V3, V4 or V5.

By the way, you can get to the library folder by typing in the Finder Clicking on the “Go” menu and then holding down the ALT key. The “Library” folder only appears in the list when the ALT key is pressed. In the Library folder you will find a folder “Mail” and then the corresponding subfolder like “V6”.

The corresponding files for the local folders in Apple Mail can be found in the sub-folders of Library / Mail / V6 /.
The corresponding files for the local folders in Apple Mail can be found in the sub-folders of Library / Mail / V6 /.

In this subfolder you then have to search through the subfolders until you find the mailbox files that are named like the mailboxes in Apple Mail that you want to delete.

Now you should close Apple Mail, delete the folder and then open Apple Mail again. In my case, the folders were still visible, but after I removed the folders using the normal delete function, they were actually gone.

The instructions in short form

If you like it short and sweet, you will find the short-and-painless version here:

  1. Close Apple Mail.
  2. Via the Finder in the folder “/Library/Mail/V6/”
  3. Look in the sub-folders for mailbox files that are named like the mailbox that you want to delete.
  4. Move these mailbox files to the trash.
  5. Restart Apple Mail.
  6. Under certain circumstances, remove the folders again with the “Delete mailbox” function in Apple Mail and rebuild the mailbox using the menu item “Mailbox > Restore”.

In my case, the corresponding folders had disappeared after this procedure.

In any case, you should make a copy of the "Mail" folder before deleting the files. It contains all the important data, so you have a backup if you need it.

My tips & tricks about technology & Apple

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15 Responses to “Apple Mail mailbox and folders cannot be deleted”

  1. Very interesting about the drawers, only I don't like the Mac email program !!

    EARLIER WHERE I STILL Windows area everything was fine with email queries.
    Then I tried to install the Thunderbird here on the Mac, you get it installed, the problems only start if you want to work with it!

    There are double drawers, but there should be drum tools for that, but they don't do anything !!!

    So back to the old email program system ” And annoy annoy annoy !!!”

    1. Hello charlie! So I haven't had duplicate mailboxes in Apple Mail yet. I like the tool itself, but sometimes it has its dropouts - like probably every other program.

      1. Hello Sir Apfelot

        But now I don't have the problem anymore!

        I now work with the Thunderbird 60.9.0. I have a program that I have integrated in the add-ons (Theme Font & Size…), and now I set the font as I want it to be.
        Problem solved working is fun again.

  2. Hello Charlie, thanks for the instructions!
    I have just deleted a number of such ghost folders that could not be deleted after a major cleanup / move of directories ...
    Now they are gone and I'm happy. :)

    1. I have the folder in Mojave too. It's just called "V6". If Apple is consistent, it should be called “V7” at Catalina. :D

      1. I can't even find the mail folder! Is it hidden and not visible? and if so, where can that change? Actually, I know my way around but I can't find the folder :) VG Markus

        1. Yes, it's in the library folder and it's invisible. But you can get in if you hold down the Alt key in the Finder and then go to "Go" at the top of the menu. If the Alt key is pressed, the “Library” folder also appears in the list. You select this and then look for “Mail” in the folder. Then you should find your way around.

  3. ahhh ... that thing was in Library / Containers / / Data / Library / Mail

    Really strange :)

    Thank you anyway. Many greetings, Markus

  4. Thank you thank you thank you!!
    Apple support agents are nice, but not everyone knows THAT! So it's good that there are such committed people !!

  5. It worked straight away! Many Thanks!
    Those stupid mailboxes had bothered me for months and couldn't be gotten away. In fact, the directory is called a V7 at Catalin.
    The stupid mailboxes are from the time BEFORE Catalina, so they were neatly transferred from Apple. They are thorough!

  6. Christopher Monsch

    Hello, finally I found someone who knows the problem. I have well over 100 folders named Imported-"Number" that I can't delete. I have Monterey 12.6.8. Now I can't find the folder in the library, but the library can. Anyone know the correct path?
    I have 6 folders named “mail” in Library/Containers. Inside them are “Container.plist” and a folder called “Data”. There are other folders in the “Data” folder… for example, another folder called “Library”.
    Many thanks for your help!!!

    1. Hello Christoph! So for me (Ventura) it is under /Library/Mail/V10/. But it could be that yours is V8 or V9 or something. Maybe you're in the wrong library? There is one in the system and one in each user folder. You can hold down the Alt key in the Finder and then go to the "Go" menu and there you will find the entry "Library". This is the correct library. I hope this helps you. LG, Jens

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