* Mac OS X 10.4 Mail.app Problem And Solution

Got error “Message has not been downloaded” after upgrading to OS X 10.4.

A couple of weeks ago (06/16/07), I upgraded one of my home Macs to OS X 10.4. After doing so, Mail.app got upgraded to version 2.1. My wife is the only one who uses Mail.app. And I am tech support for the family. After the upgrade, she got the following error message:

“Message has not been downloaded from the server, take this account online to view.”

I’ll skip to the solution and tell you that the problem has nothing to do with what the error message suggests is wrong. Apple simply goofed when it built Mail.app 2.1, and some mailboxes (for whatever reason) do not properly import after you upgrade to OS X 10.4. There is a somewhat helpful Apple support article on this topic and a much more helpful blog post from Betalogue. My favorite paragraph from that blog post is this one:

“At that stage, I almost expected Apple to ask us to fire up Terminal and type in a mv command! All of a sudden, they’ve decided to acknowledge that the Mac OS X desktop is a visual metaphor after all, and are allowing you to move stuff, you know, like, spatially. On your desktop! Amazing!”

Much humor.

So here’s what worked for me. Six mailboxes were busted. It’s not obvious which are busted and which are not. Check all of them by trying to view messages in each. Also check the date ranges of the mailboxes to see if they make sense. If you can’t read messages in the mailbox or if messages appear to be missing, then the mailbox probably needs to be fixed. In my case, I fixed one mailbox by reindexing it (step 2 from the Apple support article), and I fixed the other five by reimporting them as type “Other.” The reimporting step is (unnumbered) step 4 from the Apple support article:

[T]ry importing as type “Other” instead of [as type] “Mail for Mac OS X”

I agree with Betalogue. That Apple support article needs an overhaul. Plus Mail.app shouldn’t break because of a point upgrade to OS X. Sheesh! Hope it helps.

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2 Replies to “* Mac OS X 10.4 Mail.app Problem And Solution”

  1. Hi,

    Great help! I’ve been having the same problem with Mail since the recent upgrade.

    I’ve been a loyal Apple guy since the 80s (I still have a functioning Apple IIe along with lots of other Mac models), but I fear the romance is over. Indeed, it appears that the new “Apple” is becoming like everything else: market share and profits rule… and screw the people who’s backs you built it all on.

    Not good.

    Maybe the world needs a new “Apple.”



  2. Any chance they’ll fix this?

    It’s a fantastic shame – their migration tool being such a fabulous timesaver is completely scuppered by this. I, and my mac expert colleague, spent 5 hours trying to fix this including a lengthy call to the apple support line which was completely fruitless, the poor guy on the phone had no idea what was going on.

    Another unrelated bug: Preview can’t open graphics postscript graphics in the same window. Maybe not so terrible.
    But the mind-numbing one is: JPG works – open several, and they turn up in one window.
    But PDF? The standard OSX format? Same window? Nooo.

    If I was in Cupertino and had anything to do with this I’d die of shame.

    It looks as if the lads and lasses at Apple are suffering from a little hubris and letting things go to pot. Watch it lads!

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