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

Rosa Reyes
time October 27, 2022 Preview 115.8K
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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 Monterey to the latest macOS 13 Ventura, from Big Sur to macOS 12 Monterey, from Catalina to macOS 11 Big Sur, or among other situations. This article will show you different ways to restore Mac mail and make folders show up again.

In some cases, you need to restore the missing 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 and different methods will be needed. All the methods provided in this article are applicable to macOS Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra and some 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 Mail from Time Machine just doesn’t work. Is there a universal way to restore the disappeared Mac 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 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
  • Step 2. Choose the location where you want to recover the mail files.data recovery solutions
  • Step 3. Click on Scan and go to Type>Email, check the mail files or use the filter tool to quickly search a mail file.restore mail folder cisdem scan
  • Step 4. Select the mail files and click Recover to get them all back to your Mac. recover mail file mac02
  • Step 6. Find the recovered Mac Mail files in Finder app and open with Mail app to view or send emails. Also, you can move all these files to INBOX. mbox or Outbox. Mbox folders under ~/Library/Mail/V8(V7,6,5…) folder for recovery.open in mail app

It is the easiest way to restore Mac Mail files. There is nothing complicated. All the Mail files can be recovered without loss. This data recovery app is easy and safe to use.

Method 2. Restore Missing Mac Mail Folder or Subfolder by Re-set Preferences

Here’s a 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. This method works in many cases.

  1. Open the Mail app on your Mac. From the top menu bar, and then you should go to "Mail" on the top 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, select “Enable this account” again.reset preferences03
  4. Close this window and go back to Mail app to check if the mail folders are back to Mailboxes.

If the steps above are useless in your situation, just try the other methods.

Method 3. Fix “Mac Mail Mailboxes Disappeared” by Synchronize

The missing or disappeared Mac Mail Mailboxes 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 4. Re-index to Fix Mac Mail Folders Disappeared

If the Email accounts are working, but the mailboxes have disappeared, the second method will probably be of little help. That being said, you can still try it out. 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. Then 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 there are some users to whom this method is not useful. They rebuilt the mailbox and still can't get the messages to appear. The re-indexing will not work if the Mail folders files don’t exist on the computer anymore. If it’s the case, it means t hat your Mail folder is lost and you need to use a professional tool to restore your Mail folder.

Method 5. Fix “Mac Mail Mailboxes 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 times, it solves the problem magically. To fix “Mac Mail Mailboxes 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 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 in the Mail Mailboxes.re-login 06

Method 6. Recover Missing or Disappeared Mac Mail with 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.

  1. Open Finder on your Mac. Enter 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 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 file into Apple Mail on your Mac. From the Import mailbox, drag the email messages into the mailbox you want them to go to.

Sometimes, restoring missing Mac Mail folders from Time Machine is just able to recover a few messages. This approach may simply not work in some cases. And if you want to restore your entire system to a prior backup, you need to guess what if something terrible happen and we need to give up one of the three. Because the whole process of the full system restore will take you some time, and you lose some third-party application registrations, which will take some terrible things for you. You'd better have a mental preparation. 

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. 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 other important files of yours on a regular basis.
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Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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Comments (5) Leave a Reply

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  • uniontom

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

    5 years ago Reply

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    • fabrice

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

      4 years ago
  • Jinnie Baizley

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

    6 years ago Reply

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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!!!

    6 years ago Reply

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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.

      6 years ago
  • Anonymous

    Excellent article. A big thank you

    6 years ago Reply

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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.

    6 years ago Reply

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