Reader Question: Apple Mail on Mac hangs when moving email

Moving mail on the Mac

Today my reader Wilhelm wrote to me because he is having problems with Apple Mail on his MacBook Pro with macOS Catalina. In detail it looks like this:

Hello Jens, it happens from time to time that there are problems with the "Mail" program after an update from Apple. In the past, the program "Mail butler" a Cause. Apple always recommended that I delete the program, delete all data and then delete a folder in the library. I think it was the Data folder.

At the moment my MacBook Pro (macOS Catalina 10.15.6) is showing "strange" behavior again. Moving the mails into the different mailboxes hangs again.

Maybe I'm not alone with this problem and you can ask your community once. Or do you have an explanation or a solution for this problem?

If you also have Apple Mail hanging when you want to move mails into folders, then perhaps a rebuild of the mail database will help.
If you also have Apple Mail hanging when you want to move mails into folders, then perhaps a rebuild of the mail database will help.

Rebuilding the Apple Mail database

As with many other problems with Apple Mail, I recommend two approaches to get the mail program back on track:

  1. Restart the Mac
  2. Deletion and rebuilding of the mail database

While restarting the computer is a universal weapon against 95 percent of computer problems (see here), deleting the mail index or the mail database is more common with Apple Mail, so that the mail program has to rebuild it.

I had I have already written a contribution to it herehow you can delete this mail database by hand, but now I've noticed a much easier way that works with the OnyX tool.

Delete database with OnyX

I already have the OnyX tool presented here in a post, because it really bundles a lot of practical functions. Whoever likes to look at it will find it here at the developer "Titanium Software" - for free.

If you start OnyX, you first have to give the software the appropriate rights with the admin password so that it has access to the mail folder at all.

If OnyX is then open, select the “Optimize” area and first remove all ticks except for “Mailboxes” under “Rebuild”. Below you select "Delete current index" and start the process with "Execute".

The mail database or its index can also be rebuilt with the free Mac tool OnyX.
The mail database or its index can also be rebuilt with the free Mac tool OnyX.

Database rebuild helped

After I asked Wilhelm whether the action with the rebuilding of the database worked, the following message came back:

Thank you very much for your answer - the database has just been rebuilt. Runs again with over 42500 mails in 35 folders. Thanks again!

I am pleased that this simple solution has helped and that Wilhelm can bring order to his emails again. If you have strange problems with your Mac too, feel free to write to me and I'll try to help. You can make contact easily via my iPhone or iPad app manufacture.

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8 thoughts on “Reader Question: Apple Mail on Mac hangs when moving emails”

  1. many thanks Jens,

    has annoyed me for three days now.

    It worked with your instructions.
    Everything perfect again!


  2. Apple Mail

    Dear Mr. Kleinholz,
    the mails could no longer be moved to the folder.
    So I installed Onyx and assigned the rights according to the instructions.
    Unfortunately, the result was devastating:
    All folders had no more mails
    Moving still does not work
    The input directory is otherwise filled (with a folder content)
    New emails are no longer received
    Would you have any advice, please?
    Claus Schmitt

    1. Hello Mr. Schmitt! I am very sorry about that. From a distance, however, I have no real idea where it could hang. I'll send you an email from a colleague who may be able to help via remote maintenance. Hopefully…

  3. Hello Mr Kleinholz
    I'm having problems with mail on my Mac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017) since the MacOS 13.1 update.
    With Yahoo Mail ( some letters come only in HTML format (others correct) or without content only the letterhead comes, once I could not send mail. The Yahoo mail works correctly.
    Apple support can't help me and the chair of support told me that he will escalate the issue to the techs, they will work on it and we should wait for the next update.
    I downloaded 13.2 update last week but the problems persist.
    I deleted and reinstalled the mail account, the mail appeared correctly, but then the next one came back in HTML format (MacOS 13.1).
    I never had a problem with emails before. Do you have a suggestion?
    Thank you in advance.
    With kind regards,
    Mr. Geza Gyovai

    1. Hello Mr. Gyovai! I would try to locate the cause. You could install another mail app like Spark or Thunderbird and see if the problem is there as well. If so, the problem is with the provider, if not, the problem is with Apple Mail. After that you can continue looking. LG

      1. Hello Mr Kleinholz! Thank you for your reponse. I tried various settings with Apple Support, including a test account, without success. They think it's an Apple Mail bug. An experiment takes a long time because only some mails (e.g. post message) appear in HTML form and they do not come regularly. If I open the mail directly in Yahoo, the text arrives correctly. Before MacOS 13.1 update I didn't have such problems. Kind regards

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