How to solve six common OS X Mail problems

OS X Mail configuration problems are often at the top of Mac users' frustration lists. These troubleshooting tips will help you address common Mail setting issues.

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Email issues are among the more frustrating problems Mac users encounter. Occasionally email troubles are due to back-end server failures; more often, users may simply not know where to configure a specific email setting or troubleshoot a configuration option. Here's how to address some common email configuration settings.

SEE: OS X El Capitan: The smart person's guide

Mail cannot be moved to mailbox Trash

IMAP mail accounts occasionally encounter synchronization or connectivity trouble. Many users, including OS X El Capitan users, report the Mac Mail client generates an error when trying to delete messages. The error reads "An error occurred while moving messages to mailbox Trash."

Users can try opening Mail, highlighting Mail's Trash folder, clicking Mailbox, selecting Use This Mailbox As, and choosing Trash Mailbox. Many users report that solution works. But it didn't for me when I encountered the error.

Instead, I solved the issue by electing not to store deleted messages on the server and updating the Mail client to reflect the new configuration by opening Mail, choosing Preferences, selecting the respective mail account, selecting Mailbox Behavior and deselecting the checkbox for Store Deleted Messages On Server.

No email signature appears

Just creating an email signature doesn't ensure it appears when composing email messages within an email account. And occasionally unintended changes result in an email signature no longer appearing when composing or replying to email messages.

Configure an email signature to appear by opening Mail, clicking Preferences from the Mail menu, and selecting Signatures. From the Signatures window, select the corresponding email account in the left pane and, using the Choose Signature drop-down menu, select the email signature you wish to use. A preview of the signature will appear within the right pane.

The wrong email signature attaches to messages

Occasionally the wrong email signature is associated with an email account. Correct the problem by opening Mail, clicking Preferences from within the Mail menu, and selecting Signatures as above. From the Signatures preferences, select the corresponding email account within the left pane, and select the correct email signature from the Choose Signature drop-down menu.

Unsure where to enter email server settings

Many users are unaware where inbound and outbound server addresses must be entered within Mail. When these values change, and there is a need to update the settings, they're lost. Fortunately, configuring Mail to accommodate an email adjustment is fairly easy.

Configure mail account settings by opening Mail, clicking Preferences, and selecting Accounts. Select the corresponding email account in the left-hand pane, and the account's settings will display in the right-hand pane, where they can be edited.

Users unsure of their email account settings can find help on Apple's website, where a Mail Settings Lookup page is dedicated to helping document an email account's settings. Apple also hosts documentation providing quick Mail tutorials, including how to set up an email account.

Junk Mail settings need configuring

Unsolicited email is a problem for just about everyone; Mac Mail users certainly aren't immune. The longer one uses an email address, the higher the likelihood the email account begins receiving spam. Configure OS X's built-in mail filtering tools using Junk Mail.

To configure Junk Mail settings, open Mail, choose Preferences from the Mail menu, and then click Junk Mail. Ensure the Enable Junk Mail Filtering box is selected, and then tweak the provided options, which include marking mail as junk or even performing custom actions you define when a message is considered junk. OS X users can also specify junk mail filtering exceptions from the Junk Mail window, including exempting contacts and previous recipients.

Don't like the new view

El Capitan Mail users can change the Mail view to the platform's older classic layout by opening Mail, selecting Preferences from the Mail menu, and choosing Viewing. Checking the Use Classic Layout box results in Mail displaying, by default, folders in a left-hand pane, individual messages in a top-right window, and the highlighted message's contents within a bottom-right window.

From the View Preferences window, users can also specify how many lines of a message should be displayed within a Preview (two is the default), whether unread messages should be displayed in bold, and whether most recent messages should be displayed at the top versus the bottom within conversations.

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