Skip to content

Fixing OS X 10.11 El Capitan Gmail Bug In Mail App

OS X 10.11_El Capitan icon 256x256Learn how to fix Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan and macOS 10.12 Sierra Gmail bug in mail app. If you have sync problems with Gmail on the native mail app in OS X 10.11 El Capitan or and macOS 10.12 Sierra, de-activating and re-activating ‘Show in IMAP’ for ‘All Mail’ should fix the El Capitan Gmail bug and Sierra Gmail bug. Since the launch of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks both Google’s Gmail and exchange accounts are not working correctly in the native mail app client in OS X 10.9 Mavericks and OS X 10.10 Yosemite. You can fix the El Capitan Gmail bug for Google’s Gmail IMAP accounts following this work around. It is the same as for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, OS X 10.10 Yosemite and and macOS 10.12 Sierra.

The trick is to deactivate ‘Show in IMAP‘ for ‘All Mail‘, delete every single Gmail account in the native mail app in El Capitan, reactivate it and set up your Gmail accounts again:

Alternative options:

  • Instead of deactivate showing ‘All Mail‘ in IMAP do the following:
  1. In Gmail settings, select ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP‘.
  2. Under ‘IMAP access’/’Folder Size Limits‘, select ‘Limit IMAP folders to contain no more than this many messages (1,000)‘.

Now, Mail will stop trying to download your entire Gmail archive, and you should have a pretty functional desktop mail client again.

Note: One of the problems with deactivating the ‘All Mail‘ IMAP folder is that it messes up BlackBerry email.

  • The problem with turning that All Mail label off is that you then no longer have access to your Archive All Mail folder on your Mac. You can only get to it on the gmail web interface. So if you do a local search of a message that is in your archive, you won’t find it.  The other problem with El Capitan mail (and may have started in Mavericks as well) is that now when you delete a gmail message in Mail with the delete key, it goes to Trash, and while it is kept in Trash for 30 days, it is not archived and is gone after 30 days. No matter how long you set your gmail account preferences in Mail to retain Trash, Google will still delete it in 30 days. So if you do want to archive a message while getting it out of your In Box, you need to not do it via the Delete key, but instead execute the Archive Message command via the menu, or press the shortcut – Ctrl-Cmd-A

De-activating and re-activating ‘Show in IMAP’ for ‘All Mail’ should fix the El Capitan Gmail bug and Sierra Gmail bug in native mail client on Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan or macOS 10.12 Sierra. Have you already face the El Capitan / Sierra Gmail bug? Let us know and comment! 

Stay tuned! 😉

49 thoughts on “Fixing OS X 10.11 El Capitan Gmail Bug In Mail App”

    1. Tried adding gmail account back after following instructions. Entered email address and password, but when I clicked on “Done”, the “Done” button grays out and then nothing happens. The dialog box stays open and nothing else happens.

  1. Dr Trevor J. Hutley

    I was not able to move my gmail account to AppleMail in El Capitan; I was unable to create my gmail account in AppleMail in El Capitan. I followed your instructions exactly, and I now have my gmail account created and all IMAP mail has downloaded (some so far, the rest is in the process of downloading).
    Dr Trevor J. Hutley

  2. For me it works to do the following:
    Mail Client: Mail >> Accounts
    OS: System Preferences >> Internet Accounts

    select the Gmail Account
    than I typed in my password, and everything was fine.

    1. +1

      This worked for me, too. I went the System Preferences -> Internet Accounts route. Clicking on each account prompted me to enter my password, and upon doing so, Mail start behaving again.

  3. Still didn’t work. This is the 4th or 5th “solution” i’ve tried. Doesn’t seem that I’m going to be able to use my GMail account on the native mail app in El Capitan.

    1. paddystewart1@gmail.com

      Im having same problems after 12 hours online with apple and wiping my whole drive and starting again. nothing seems to work !

      1. I ended up viewing this YouTube video about the issue and at first it didn’t work, but this is what I did:
        1. remove GMail from your accounts
        2. Uncheck the email function from your iCloud account (if you are using all features. If not, remove the account. I just didn’t want to set up iCloud again.)
        3. I went through my Gmail folder and removed any label name with an apostrophe in it. Ex: Derek’s Books became Dereks Books
        4. Re-check your iCloud email or set it up again
        5. Setup Gmail again.

        YouTube Vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoU8WyYlAZ4

        Hope this helps.

      2. Hi Paddy,

        do you have also an Exchange account beside your Gmail account? Try to deactivate the Exchange account (not deleting!). does the Gmail issue still persist?

        Gee Are

  4. I tried many solutions, however the only thing that solved my issue was to add my gmail account using “Add Other Account…” with incoming server “pop.gmail.com” and outgoing server “smtp.gmail.com”… instead of clicking on the Google logo for adding an “Internet Account” in OSX.

  5. i have the same problem please explain to me in easier terms what to do,i tried your suggestion to disable imapi and nothing so far ,,do i log out of gmail and then go back in to reenable it? i lost all emails in every folder and also on my phone and computer after updating to el capitan,,,,help please i can probably get mail back with time machine on my mac but my gmail ,,i lost years of emails saved

    1. Hi Karen,

      first, go to your Gmail account using your web browser and look for your emails. Are there still there?

      If so, try again exactly as I described it. If the emails aren’t anymore on your Gmail account, you deleted them. Look into the trash folder and move them out of the trash folder.

      Gee Are

      1. minnieminx50@gmail.com

        they are not there,,,it gets recent ones but all folders that i have created from 8 years ago is gone,,,on phone ,,computer and gmail web site,,,it is a problem with this beta as i have seen when i research it,,,something about a cliche in the exchange,,,it deletes some, or all of your archived emails,,,i have not deleted them myself,,,not even accidentally they were there prior to the upgrade of el captan and after the upgrade my emails disappeared before my eyes from my phone first,,,,i saw them for a second then poof,,,,i hope you can give me some help

          1. minnieminx50@gmail.com

            that would be so wonderful,,,heres what to look for ,,i did el capitan beta and it was version 11.10.2 worked fine,,then upgrade came to 11.10.3 then all hell broke loose,,,,i looked it up online and it is a problem I’m hoping gmail or google will restore it as i read they hard copy emails for a period,,,i can’t seem to find a number or email,,they just let you complain about prefixed problems,,,,

              1. minnieminx50@gmail.com

                thank God i did make a backup prior,,, but I’m afraid to use time machine because if i use my backup from a time before the upgrade,,,it will still be on my computer after i use the backup may do it again,,,,its the operating system for mac,,,i bought another hard drive to make a backup of my computer with the bad upgrade on it,,,so i thought id back it up now as it is,,,,with another hard drive and then once done use the recovery to go back to mavericks from my time machine,,,,,,wished you could just delete the new update,,,,

  6. learnerkconsultancyMike


    You say “The trick is to deactivate ‘Show in IMAP‘ for ‘All Mail‘, delete every single Gmail account in the native mail app in El Capitan, reactivate it and set up your Gmail accounts again:”

    Just how, exactly doe you do this?



      1. Hi, you say in response to commenter @learnerconsultancyMike – “as I described in point 4 to 6″… but I don’t see any points 4 to 6 in your original post. I too don’t understand your instructions to “deactivate shot in IMAP for All Mail”… what is “All Mail” and where is it? Imagine you are talking to a 5-year old 🙂 Thanks Gee.

        1. Hi MKW,

          just thoroughly read my post including pics from the very beginning till the end. Everything is there and explained, even for 5-year old ones… 😉

          Gee Are

          1. Hi, I would thoroughly read your post, except the first part is not visible. All I can see is the following text – “The trick is to deactivate ‘Show in IMAP‘ for ‘All Mail‘, delete every single Gmail account in the native mail app in El Capitan, reactivate it and set up your Gmail accounts again:” – then everything else is hidden until the “alternative options” bit. Thanks.

          2. Hi again…. aaaah I see now… I viewed this page in a different browser and the content I couldn’t see was unlocked by clicking to “like on Facebook”. That’s why I couldn’t see the steps. Just so you know…

  7. Not sure if the procedure described above had something to do, but after trying a few ideas I read on the internet, I found a solution by deleting gmail accounts on both mac and iphone. Then re-configuring both and it worked.

  8. I have no idea what just happened 😉 but this solved my problem! For some time, now, GMail would appear briefly in my Apple Mail Client (El Capitan, 10.11.4) and then disappear. The mail items were in my Google Mail account, but I couldn’t see them (read or respond to them) using my Apple Mail Client. I followed your instructions (in the end, I wound up activating All Mail because it had been de-activated previously) and voila! I can now see and manipulate GMail in my Apple Mail Client once again. Thanks!

  9. hi,

    Thanks for the article. i am using mac Sierra.. and issue i am facing with mail client its always loading the gmail thread. Even previously loaded threads are loading again and again and its taking huge amount of time. Any luck?

  10. "Jesus take the Pocketwatch!"


    make sure you try going to your google account settings (my Account) and then go to sign-in & security and scroll down to where it says “Allow Less secure apps” and turn that on !

  11. TWtosoeOA26c99PFt0gDl3sb93DsfhFdwYItwwmCPMg=

    You say “The trick is to deactivate ‘Show in IMAP‘ for ‘All Mail‘, delete every single Gmail account in the native mail app in El Capitan, reactivate it and set up your Gmail accounts again:”

    I tried this on our Mac and nothing changed. Do I need to include our iPad and our iPhones in this process as well?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *