How to Restore Mac Mail Folders Disappeared on Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, etc.

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Connie Wisley
June 29, 2023 Preview 129.2K Preview 8
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Apple Mail files are typically stored in ~/Library/Mail/ folder on Mac. Many Mac users have experienced or are experiencing the Mac Mail folders disappeared issue. The issue may be due to an accidental deletion of the Mail folder, an upgrade from macOS Ventura to the latest macOS 14 Sonoma, from Monterey to macOS 13 Ventura, from Big Sur to macOS 12 Monterey, or among other situations. This article will show you 8 different ways to restore Mac mail and make folders show up again.

In some cases, you need to restore the missing Apple Mail folders from Time Machine backup (if available) or with the help of data recovery software for Mac. In other cases, the Mac Mail mailboxes, folders or subfolders only disappear from the sidebar in the application, so different methods will be needed. All the methods provided in this article are applicable to macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, and other older versions.

Method 1. Restore Disappeared or Deleted Mac Mails without Failure

I lost all of my Mail files but I didn't backup system by Time Machine, and also didn’t do any other backups, how can I restore my Mail files?” ― Asked by a Mac user

Not all Mac users back up their Macs with Time Machine. Also, sometimes, restoring Mac Mail files from Time Machine just doesn’t work. Is there a universal way to restore the disappeared Apple Mail folders?

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is an easy-to-use and powerful app to recover lost, deleted or formatted photos, videos, documents and other types of files on Mac, including Mac Mailbox emlx files. It can also recover data from external hard drive, SD card, USB flash drive, digital cameras, iPods, etc. If some important data, say Mac Mail mailboxes, have disappeared, don’t panic. This app will be able to recover them efficiently. A free trial is available for all Mac users.

Compared with restoring Mac Mail folder from Time Machine, it’s a lot easier to restore deleted or lost Mail using Cisdem Data Recovery. Below are the steps.

  • Step 1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac. Launch it.Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  • Step 2. Choose the location where you want to recover the mail files.data recovery solutions
  • Step 3. Click on Search for lost files and go to Type > Emails, check the mail files or use the filter tool to quickly search a mail file.restore mail folder cisdem scan
  • Step 4. Select the wanted mail files and click Recover to get them all back to your Mac. recover mail file mac02
  • Step 5. Find the recovered Mac Mail files in Finder app and open with Mail app to view or send emails.open in mail app

It is the simplest way to restore Mac Mail folders and files. There is nothing complicated. All the Mail files can be recovered without loss.

Method 2. Locate Show/Hide Button to Fix Apple Mail Folders Missing

In case you discover that some of your Apple Mail folders have disappeared from the On My Mac folder, Flagged mailboxes, Smart mailboxes, Junk mailboxes, Sent folder, Drafts folder Trash folder or others, there’s possibly one quick trick. 

Mac Mail has a button called Show/Hide, which is invisible by default. It only shows up when users put the cursor on top of it. So try to locate and switch the Show/Hide button, your missing Apple Mail folders might reappear magically.mail show button

Method 3. Restore Mail Folders on Mac from Library

Library on Mac is a specific folder where all cache files, preference files, settings files, support files and other data associated with Mac apps are stored. Without doubt, searching in Library folder can be a feasible option if any Apple Mail folders disappeared on your Mac.

  1. Open Finder from Mac Dock > choose Go from Finder menu bar > select Go to Folder.restore mail folders from library 01
  2. Enter ~/Library in the window > click Go.restore mail folders from library 02
  3. Scroll down to open the Mail sub-folder > open the folder named V(number) > copy it to recover the deleted or disappeared Mail folders.restore mail folders from library 03

Method 4. Re-set Preferences to Fix Apple Mail Folders Disappeared

Here’s another scenario. When opening Mail, you find that all the folders previously associated with your iCloud or Gmail account are not showing. When you select “Get Account Info”, they are all listed. They just don’t display in the Mailbox. If it’s your case, you can go to "Preferences" and change the settings. By doing so, you will restore the Mail folders successfully.

  1. Open the Mail app on your Mac. From the top menu bar, select Mail > Preferences.reset preferences
  2. Go to the Accounts tab, unselect the "Enable this account" option.reset preferences02
  3. Wait for 5-10 seconds, then select “Enable this account” again.reset preferences03
  4. Close this window and go back to Mail app to check if the disappeared mail folders are back to Mailboxes.

Method 5. Fix “Mac Mail Folders Disappeared” by Synchronize

The missing or disappeared Mac Mail Mailboxes or folders may be just caused by sync problems, all the mails are kept update to date in the original mail account but not synchronized in Mail app. 

  1. Launch Mail app on your Mac.
  2. Go to Mailbox > Synchronize “Google”, click and check if the disappeared mail folders are restored in Mailboxes.mail-synchronize

If not working for you, keep reading and try the following methods.

Method 6. Re-index to Fix Mac Mail Folders Disappeared

On the Apple discussions forum, there are a number of threads about Mac Mail mailboxes disappearing. With situation like this, you can try re-indexing the mailboxes to do email recovery on Mac by following the instructions below.

  1. Quit Mail app if it is running on your Mac.
  2. Go to Apple Menu > Go > Go to Folder.reindex mail 01
  3. Input ~/Library/Mail/ and click Go to find the Mail folder location.reindex mail 02
  4. Then go to MailData folder, find the files with name starting with Envelope Index, select them all and copy for backup on your Mac first.reindex mail 03
  5. Then delete all these files.reindex mail 04
  6. Finally launch Mail app and wait for the reindexing until you see the disappeared mail folders back in your Apple Mail Mailboxes.

Hopefully this method can work. But please note that the re-indexing will not work if the Mail folders files don’t exist on your computer anymore. It means that your Mail folder is lost and you need to use a professional tool to restore it.

Method 7. Fix “Mac Mail Folders Disappeared” by Re-Add Account

Sometimes when our social media or Mail account runs into errors, we will log out and re-login to fix the problem, and most of the time, it solves the problem magically. To fix “Apple Mail Folders Disappeared”, we can also use this workaround, delete the account first, then re-add and re-load mails in Apple Mail app.

  1. Run Apple Mail app, go to Mail > Preferecens.reset preferences
  2. Choose the mail account you use to manage mails in Mail app. Click “-“ to remove the account.re-login01
  3. Click “OK” to delete the account.re-login 03
  4. Quit Mail app and launch it again, you will be asked to choose a Mail account provider, input the account name and password.re-login 04
  5. Select Mail to use with this account and click Done.re-login 05
  6. Now, you will see all the mails and mail folders appearing again in the Mail Mailboxes.re-login 06

Method 8. Recover Missing or Disappeared Mac Mail Folders from Time Machine

Many Mac users back up their Macs with Time Machine. If you are one of them and you have lost Mail messages recently, you can restore Mail from Time Machine. An article on macissues.com provides three options to manually restore disappeared Mail folder from Time Machine.

How to restore Mac Mail folders from Time Machine?

  1. Open Finder on your Mac. Enter Time Machine.
  2. From the top menu bar, select Go > Go to Folder. Enter ~/Library/Mail/. Find the folder starting with V, say V8 for Big Sur. Open it.
  3. Apart from the folder MailData, there are several folders with long names. Open them one by one to find the mail account that has the mailbox folder you need to restore.
  4. Find the files with the name of the mailboxes that have disappeared. Restore them to desktop. Exit Time Machine.recover Mail from Time Machine
  5. Import the .mbox files into Apple Mail on your Mac. From the Import mailbox, drag the email messages into the mailbox you want them to go to.

Tips for Backing up Mail Folder on Mac

  • The Mac Mail folder that contains email accounts, mailboxes, messages, etc. is entitled Mail. Access it by going to Go > Go to Folder and typing ~/Library/Mail/.
  • Before backing up Mail folder, you should quit the Mail app first. Go to the Mail folder, copy and store it to a different storage device.
  • When you restore Mail folder by simply copying and pasting, the system will ask if you want to replace the existing folder with it. If you have lost all of your messages, simply confirm by clicking the Yes button.
  • It’s sensible to backup Mail folder or your other important files on a regular basis.
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Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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Comments (8) Leave a Reply

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  • Lisa

    So bad to lose several important business mail folders after my Mac upgraded to Ventura. Thanks Rosa for this article.

    1 years ago commonReply

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  • uniontom

    I was lucky the 1st explanation was the correct one for me.

    6 years ago commonReply

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    • fabrice

      Yup, for me too. Nice; simple and quick! Thank you!!

      6 years ago
  • Jinnie Baizley

    Thank heavens for your site - the first action - preferences unchecking and checking the little box worked for me - thank you

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • Kevin

    I love you! Seriously. I have been dying here since 7 am (It's almost one in the afternoon now) All my mailboxes saved disappeared when I launched Mail this morning. My airline and hotel reservation for my SEMA trip to Vegas. Everything gone. And it's all back!! Yeah!!!

    7 years ago commonReply

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    • Brett

      Hi Kevin, what was the code for recovering your mailboxes or what did you restore? I am panicking for the same reason! Please help.

      7 years ago
  • Anonymous

    Excellent article. A big thank you

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • Sade

    Hey, your article is excellent. And i tried cisdem data recovery, the scanning process was smooth, but the trial version didn't allow me to restore, and i consider to buy one. Thank you.

    8 years ago commonReply

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