Mail app not sorting in date order

Hi everyone,

Just wondered if anybody has overcome this problem.

I use the to control several e-mail accounts and our workflow involves dragging emails from one account to another.

However quite often the sorts these mails in the order I dragged them across, rather than date order, despite the fact I have all mailboxes to display in date order with newest on top in the settings.

Anybody know of a way to force these mails to be sent in the order they were actually sent?

Apologies for the redactions, but obviously I have to keep my e-mail private.

Does this happen after restarting Mail? After restarting the computer?

Yes, unfortunately so.

Try the Rebuild command under the Mailboxes menu

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That’s a good idea, unfortunately my boss refuses to delete e-mail unless it’s obviously spam - and since his company has been going since 2002, I have 198,000 e-mails to re-build.

Hopefully by tomorrow this fixes it :smiley:

Could that be the issue? Too much? Or it takes a long time to sort?

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Honestly. I know you’ve probably had this conversation, but what value does an email from 21 years ago actually have?

I’d be tempted to export emails into an archive format year by year, back those archives up and see if your boss even notices.

Provide instructions on how to access if required.


I have a ton of emails in both IMAP and Gmail accounts and rebuild periodically. Just start it going and go home for the day, or take a longish lunch break or whatever. It’ll chug through eventually. I think in recent version of MacOS I can even keep using Mail, tho it does get a little sluggish

Edit: “a ton” meaning 70,000+ unread in a single Gmail account and 41,000+ unread in a single IMAP account. Both rebuild just fine when I need to

Sounds like it is time to look into EagleFiler or one of the other mail archive programs that get mentioned here from time to time. Archive the mail messages each year out of Apple Mail and into the mail archive program of your choice. Boom! Apple Mail is speedy again and all that old stuff is still accessible. (Details will vary by program.)

Ask if this is in accordance with the document retention policy. If you don’t have one then talking to your company legal counsel is in order. A lot of stuff in the news where old emails have come back to bite people in the rear during discovery.

I ran into problems with Apple Mail once I went past about 80K emails and had to dump them out. There are limits and mail becomes very unreliable with large volumes of individual messages.

I routinely reference emails form over 30 years ago so I’d say it’s certainly plausible for 21 year old email to have value.

And from personal experience the opposite is also true. Very old emails can save your bacon.

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I contend that email is a bad place to file important documents. Much better to export them as a PDF and save in a more robust filing system. If you need the capability, something like DevonThink or EagleFiler is far better than a mail client and IMAP server. My wife worked as a Microsoft Exchange admin and has horror stories of people whose email stores got corrupted and the pain it took to restore it.

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I have found e-mail export to PDF too often to be fiddly and incomplete. After worrying about it, I decided that the EML file format has been around long enough that I am comfortable using it for my personal archives in the EagleFiler app.

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  1. A PDF version is not as viable in a legal sense as the actual email
  2. I do NOT use IMAP. I use POP accounts so all mail is always on my machine as soon as I download it.
  3. DEVONThink was my choice until I lost too much data. So, I now export to separate.mbox files the archive data nd access it via Thunderbird when required.
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Intersting but as mbox format is essentially text it can be edited and the message contents changed which would surely make it less viable as evidence. Surely a PDF files would, like faxes, be more admissible in any legal dispute because it is more difficult to change the content.

I don’t say it’s logical but just how it is