C-Command Software Forum

Apple Mail needs nudging

In a recent exchange of emails, you suggested that when a mail message in Apple Mail seems to be a false negative, I should try selecting it and choosing Message > Apply Rules to make sure that SpamSieve has actually seen the message in the first place. This works great.

My question is, why, do you suppose, is Apple Mail not applying rules consistently to incoming messages? Can I do anything to improve its activity in this regard? This is clearly not a SpamSieve issue, but rather something about Apple Mail; but you have long and deep experience in this regard so maybe you have a suggestion. Thanks!

If the rule works when applied manually but Mail isn’t applying it automatically (so there is no Predicted entry in the SpamSieve log), the common causes are:

  • The message was marked as read by another device before Mail on your Mac downloaded it. Solution: Don’t mark the messages as read on other devices, or mark them as unread when you’re done.

  • A server rule or another device moved it out of the inbox before Mail on your Mac downloaded it. Solution: Turn off or adjust that rule.

  • Mail’s database is damaged. Solution: Do a complete rebuild of the database.

  • Mail’s rules are damaged or otherwise mysteriously messed up. Solution: Delete and recreate the SpamSieve rule.

It’s also possible, though unlikely, that another Mail plug-in or Mail rule is interfering. If the above don’t help you could try temporarily disabling other plug-ins and rules.

In my experience, with the possible exception of your case, one of the above always works.

Lastly, you could click this link to enable some extra debug logging. Then, after restarting SpamSieve and Mail, you will see extra log entries in the system Console. This might provide some clues as to whether for some reason Mail is deciding not to apply the rule. Mail also does some of its own logging to Console and to the folder ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Logs/Mail.

It’s probably the first of those options: the messages that aren’t getting evaluated are likely messages I’ve peeked at, intentionally or not, on my iPhone or iPad. It’s disappointing that Mail doesn’t count a message read elsewhere as one of its “All Messages”, but such is life. Thanks!