Missing message issues plague Mail users in macOS Catalina

Posted:
in macOS edited February 2020
Users are reporting issues with the loss of data in Apple's Mail app following the update to macOS 10.15 Catalina, an issue that could lead to the data being made unavailable on other clients that access the same mailboxes.




The recent release of macOS Catalinaversion10.15 on Monday has, as with any major operating system update, been followed by reports from users of issues with some aspects of the software. In the case of macOS Catalina, arguably the biggest issues revolve around the Mail app.

In a blog post by SpamSieve plug-in developer Michael Tsai, Mail is seen to be causing problems when users upgrade, with the data store's update seemingly succeeding, but missing messages or holding incomplete versions.

In some cases, moving messages between mailboxes can result in a blank message containing just header data. If the message was moved to a server mailbox, other devices that access that mailbox may see the message as deleted. Furthermore, when this change synchronizes back to the initial Mac that triggers the chain of updates, the message disappears completely.

Tsai warns users to hold off from updating to Catalina for now if they rely on Mail. For those who upgraded, they may not notice there is a problem unless they look at the mailbox or affected messages, while the synchronization of data with a server can propagate the issue to other Mac or iOS devices.

Backing up data from Mail is also difficult, Tsai advises, as despite setting the preference to do so, Mail "no longer automatically fully downloads all messages," meaning a local data backup may be incomplete. The constantly changing nature of Mail data also makes restoring a backup difficult, due to the need to merge restored messages with new ones, along with live server data.

The issue is exacerbated by Apple advisors allegedly telling users Mail data lost in Catalina cannot be recovered using a backup from Mojave. According to Tsai, Time Machine can be used as normal to access previous versions of folders in Mail's data store, then using the Import Mailboxes command to selectively import them as new local mailboxes that won't affect messages on the server.

Apple will likely be issuing a fix for Mail in a future update, possibly in an early patch that typically arrives to correct bugs shortly after an OS release.
davidwilliamKouragan
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,191member
    Is this an issue with IMAP, POP, or both? Or is this ONLY local storage? Apple has historically had problems dealing with mail servers, but I’m not sure I understand what this article is saying.

    How do regressions like this keep happening so often? Why are the things that already work continuing to be broken in new versions? One of the Mac OS X updates broke scrolling images in image quicklook (spacebar) when the pointer is not on the part of the quicklook window that has image (blank regions used to scroll correctly), and having the quicklook open while jumping around from image to image in Finder will also break zoom gesture function.

    Have Apple fixed the horrible text edit view issues in Safari that they introduced in iOS 7??? iOS 13 fixes which long-standing bugs?

    ”You don’t understand”, “software development is complicated”, “everything has bugs”, blah blah blah, I know all the geek tech excuses. Instead of being accountable and taking the proper time to do the last 10% of the development (which is 90% of the work), it’s easier to just do social engineering to convince people that constant bugs and error states are “normal” and treat users as ignorant when they demand accountability.
    agilealtitudeAgattoelijahgrcfamwhiteflyingdpcommand_f
  • Reply 2 of 53
    Additionally, and this has been reported to Apple, no longer does a group drag-and-drop into any of Mail’s address lines. 
    rcfacommand_f
  • Reply 3 of 53
    neilmneilm Posts: 874member
    I've personally experienced this. A three message email thread showed the original incoming message in Catalina Mail, but the two incoming responses had headers but no content. The two "blank" messages were fully readable when viewed on my iPad Pro, but disappeared almost immediately as sync'ing occurred. The original message still remains on all devices. So yeah, unless this is Apple's unannounced "burn before reading" security feature, there's definitely a bug.

    FWIW these were in my work Exchange email account.
    fastasleepcaladaniancommand_f
  • Reply 4 of 53
    Thanks for the warning. 
    This may be related. At the same time I updated to iOS 13, I lost all my smart mailboxes on Mojave.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 53
    jccjcc Posts: 287member
    dysamoria said:

    How do regressions like this keep happening so often?
    Because of incompetence. Cook needs to go. He lacks the ability to manage good teams and good products. The more resources you give him, the more problems he’ll create. That’s the very definition of incompetence.
    elijahgElCapitanmonstrosity
  • Reply 6 of 53
    uraharaurahara Posts: 521member
    jcc said:
    dysamoria said:

    How do regressions like this keep happening so often?
    Because of incompetence. Cook needs to go. He lacks the ability to manage good teams and good products. The more resources you give him, the more problems he’ll create. That’s the very definition of incompetence.
    Sure, because under Jobs there were no bugs /s
    doctwelvercfafastasleepmacxpressmwhitecaladanianjony0wlym
  • Reply 7 of 53
    uraharaurahara Posts: 521member
    This is a really a big f$ckup. Some people might lose thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars because of some critical information being lost. 
    Apple should have tested better. 
    dysamoriakozchris
  • Reply 8 of 53
    That’s certainly my experience. For example, Gmail “Sent” messages do not appear in that folder, and Search functionality is completely broken.

    The interesting data point is that Mail on iOS devices works just fine for me. 
    With all the beta releases you’d think this kind of major problem would be resolved before public release, but release deadlines probably factor in. 
    caladaniandysamoria
  • Reply 9 of 53
    flyingdp said:
    With all the beta releases you’d think this kind of major problem would be resolved before public release, but release deadlines probably factor in. 
    Losing email is about as serious as it comes. I think Apple assumes that mass user input during the beta phase between WWDC and the new iPhone release (something like three months) will weed out bugs like this, but that assumes there's going to be a lot of input, I think that's optimistic to put it mildly. I tried installing an early beta of Catalina on a test Mac Mini box but it hosed it and I know of others who had similar problems. A colleague at work whose job it is to admini Macs and IOS devices ask me how can this happen with iOS13 and Catalina, surely they take the previous stable build source code and make incremental changes. That appears to be not how Apple's development process works at all for either the OS's nor core apps. Apple's software QA process clearly needs tweeking.
    fastasleepcaladaniandysamoriarazorpit
  • Reply 10 of 53
    3 computers , 3 upgraded to Catalina, all using Gmail and exchange..zero issues. It must happen under certain use cases.
    command_fkozchriswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 53
    Problem is, how do you know mail isn’t missing? With tens of thousands of emails, it’s impossible to know which ones might be gone. 

    I initially thought it was a database issue because searches were coming up empty. But now I’m scared those emails might be gone. Just went through a corporate demerger and emails can’t just go missing. I understand not showing up on the local machine but to delete from my exchange server just because I upgraded? Just because Mac OS kept sending me notifications to update? 

    What a fucking mess
    rcfaflyingdpcaladaniandysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 53
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 801member
    Can one browse Facebook in Catalina's Safari? If so, then everything is hunky-dory. Who cares about some obscure application like Mail? Are you going to complain about Catalina not supporting 32-bit apps too? Stop spreading FUD. 
    edited October 2019 gatorguyrazorpit
  • Reply 13 of 53
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 801member
    loopless said:
    3 computers , 3 upgraded to Catalina, all using Gmail and exchange..zero issues. It must happen under certain use cases.
    If it's not happening to you, it must not be too serious. 
    edited October 2019 dysamoriarazorpit
  • Reply 14 of 53
    rcfarcfa Posts: 946member
    The worst part: every damn OS release, they keep changing the database format, when all that would be required is .../mailbox/YYYY/MM/DD/ folders with .emlx files and a decent index that can be rebuilt as needed.

    One would think, with that many database format changes, things would be blindingly fast, but all they seem to do is hand over Mail.app to a team, tasking it to test the latest Apple tech on it.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if the latest changes and screw ups were the result of having the app rewritten in Swift.

    Similarly, the plugin API is broken with each new release, causing issues for people who need PGP/GPG support. But you’re stuck in the upgrade mill, because via iCloud and other functionality you’re forced forwards.

    Is at least the classic view still there, or will I have to some less integrated software like Outlook or Thunderbird in the future?
    edited October 2019 flyingdpcaladaniandysamoria
  • Reply 15 of 53
    I downloaded the beta version of Catalina as soon as it became available. One of my IMAP accounts immediately stopped syncing. I reported this bug to Apple months ago. It's still there.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 16 of 53
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,616member
    Feeling pretty happy about only installing Catalina into a partition just to try it out.  Sticking with Mojave for a little while more then, nothing much in Catalina for me anyway.
  • Reply 17 of 53
    ivanhivanh Posts: 556member
    Is it an isolated macOS upgrade issue, or a broader iCloud format conversion issue? I’m convinced of the latter.
  • Reply 18 of 53
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,430member
    jcc said:
    dysamoria said:

    How do regressions like this keep happening so often?
    Because of incompetence. Cook needs to go. He lacks the ability to manage good teams and good products. The more resources you give him, the more problems he’ll create. That’s the very definition of incompetence.
    Aah sure Cook is to blame, nothing went wrong when Steve ran Apple, never.
    macxpressmwhite
  • Reply 19 of 53
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,138member
    jcc said:
    dysamoria said:

    How do regressions like this keep happening so often?
    Because of incompetence. Cook needs to go. He lacks the ability to manage good teams and good products. The more resources you give him, the more problems he’ll create. That’s the very definition of incompetence.
    Thank you armchair executive. And who do you suppose replace Tim? I have yet to get an answer on this question.
    edited October 2019 mwhitewatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 53
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,138member

    urahara said:
    This is a really a big f$ckup. Some people might lose thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars because of some critical information being lost. 
    Apple should have tested better. 
    Or if you have that much on the line...you wouldn't ever just upgrade your Mac right away. The user should have known better. Also, back your shit up in case things like this happen! 
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