Gmail messages disappearing from Apple Mail? Here’s a fix

Sections: Apple Software, Features, How-To, iDevice Apps, Internet / Websites, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Mac Software

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Since upgrading to OS X Mavericks, Gmail messages have been disappearing from Apple Mail. Obviously, it’s been going on for a while now, and I’ve found it easy to ignore the problem because I could still see them by checking Gmail on the web. Lately, though, I’ve been losing Macworld/iWorld 2014 meeting invitations and confirmations, and that’s propelled me to do some research. I found a fix that worked for me, but it was buried in Apple’s support forums under the typical hostile debates over nothing useful…in this case, whether it’s Apple or Google’s fault. Who cares? Just answer the question!

To save you that hassle, here’s how to prevent Gmail messages from disappearing from Apple Mail, and how you’ll get back the ones that went away.

First, the problem arises from Google’s labeling system, I’ve learned. When you delete a message from Gmail or move it to another folder, the message doesn’t actually move or get deleted, it just gets labeled. After a while, all of your messages get labeled as Archives, and that’s where they’re going. They’re not disappearing or getting deleted, they’re being moved to Gmail’s All Mail folder, as Mail is having trouble overriding them with the labels you’ve assigned, apparently.

So, how do you stop this from happening? It’s actually quite simple.

  1. Log into your Gmail account with a web browser.
  2. Click on the wheel on the wheel at the upper right and select Settings.

Gmail disappearing

  1. Click on Labels, which is the second option from the left in the horizontal list of settings links.
  2. Under the “System Labels” heading find “All Mail” and deselect “Show in IMAP.” You don’t want this to be checked.

Gmail Disappearing

That’s all there is to it. All of those Gmail message that disappeared will now reappear in Mail. Some people on the forum reported that it happened within a minute or so. I quit Mail and restarted it to force them to come in.

As in most cases, your issue could be something different, and this fix may not work for everyone. But it did for me, so I now get to spend the next few days digging through all those To Do items that I’ve apparently had open since October of last year.

I may just turn “Show in IMAP” back on and pretend they’re already done.

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  • aquarius7373

    I’ve been fighting with this for so long! Here’s to hoping it works…

    • aquarius7373

      Nope. I tried disabling gmail from mail, restarted, reenabled, restarted, it won’t bring my emails back.

  • Richard

    Thanks for the article, but I’m afraid it did not help my problem. I’m hoping the new OS will bring a fix.

    • cgray

      You mean your problem with blocking people who don’t kiss your jackbooted ass?