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macOS – How To Fix Mail Folders Not Automatically Be Sorted In Alphabetical Order

macOS Mojave Mail icon 300x300macOS Mail folders are often not sorted in alphabetical order by default, especially when new mailbox folders are added to an existing mailbox. Although the mailbox folders are in A to Z order at the mail web access, e.g. iCloud.com, they are not on your macOS Mail app. If you are unable to order alphabetically all mailbox folders on your Mac, you just need to delete the corresponding mailbox library. Not a single SSH shell command is necessary.

macOS Mail folders alphabetically sorting_01_folder not alphabetically sorted

macOS Mail folders alphabetically sorting_01_folder not alphabetically sorted

Here is how to alphabetize Mac mail folders automatically again:

macOS Mail folders alphabetically sorting_02_trash Mail library

macOS Mail folders alphabetically sorting_02_trash Mail library

  1. Close the macOS Mail app, if it is currently open.
  2. Launch Finder app. While pressing the option key on your keyboard, click onto the ‘Go‘ menu and then select ‘Library‘.
  3. Scroll down till you find the ‘Mail‘ folder and open the folder.
  4. Within the Mail folder, you will find one or more subfolders named like V1 / V2 / V3 …., in my case it is named ‘V6’.
  5. Trash all ‘Vx’-folders. Note: Do not finally delete them until you are sure you will not need them anymore.
  6. Launch macOS Mail app. All email accounts will be synced again. This can take a while. After the sync is complete, all of your mailbox folders are shown again in alphabetical order.
macOS Mail folders alphabetically sorting_03_folder alphabetically sorted

macOS Mail folders alphabetically sorting_03_folder alphabetically sorted


  • Mainly iCloud mail accounts are affected by mailbox folders not sorting in alphabetically order. However, this fix works for Gmail, Outlook and any other email accounts, too.
  • If you’re using IMAP or Exchange and have all your messages stored on a remote server, you shouldn’t be able to delete those messages through this process. If you have locally stored mailboxes, make sure they’re archived via Time Machine or other backup software!
  • The fix was tested succesfully on macOS 10.14 Mojave.

Fix macOS mailbox folders (iCloud, Gmail, Outlook.com,…) not be sorted alphabetically by deleting the Mail library and automatically resyncing all mailbox accounts.

Stay tuned ! 😉

34 thoughts on “macOS – How To Fix Mail Folders Not Automatically Be Sorted In Alphabetical Order”

  1. Mucho Gracias Señor. I worked with Apple senior advisor for over an hour today about this with no fix. But your method worked. Wonder how they all of a sudden got out of order?

  2. I have a weird problem on only one of my MACs with Mojave.
    I moved my host and on the MacbookPro all my tons of subfolders under the inbox are correctly lined up under the inbox folder of this account.
    However the MacPro shows a totally different behaviour ANY new mailbox – not smart – or this account when I created it new with the new host puts all submailboxen much down in separated from the Inbox.
    Drives me mad but I have no idea how to fix it.
    Deleting V6 did not help in my case – all the submailboxes are nicely sorted but separated from the inbox.

    Any idea?

  3. hi, my folders in Mail were sorted in reverse alphabet order. deleted v number files as instructed to no avail. how do list them in normal alphabet order pls?

  4. You CANNOT loose your email – it is stored on the server of your provider.
    Delete the whole account and set it up again with password and server credentials.

    Nevertheless I have the same sh… on my Macs with sorting since I upgraded to Catalina.
    One Mac shows the mailboxes correct and adds new sub mailboxes in order.
    The other one just throws everything at the bottom of the list independent of the alphabetical order.
    Outlook gets it right.

    It is a never ending story with Apple they cannot get their mail program working.
    Another nuisance is that the attachments are shown at the VERY VERY end of the mail.
    In the header it is almost impossible to recognise that there are attachments.

    Apple PLEASE hire someone from Microsoft to show you how a working email client is programmed.

    And stop adding elementary school gimmicks to your OS or simply devide your OS into one for adults and professionals and another one for hipsters, instagrammers and kiddies.

    Best Bernd

    1. I agree! What is weird is they are in alphabetical order when I am selecting which folder to move an email to, but when I am navigating folders they are not.

  5. “How To Fix Mail Folders Not Automatically Be Sorted” So the problem to solve is that Mail is not sorting them automatically in alphabetical order.

    I don’t see how this article fixes the problem. Will all new folders be automatically sorted alphabetically after following these instructions?

    1. Yes, they will. My personal experience is that this fix works at least for months. The issue sometimes returns if there are major macOS updates. In my case, my MacBook has not been affected anymore since I have written this blog post.

  6. It finally worked !!! After three attempts as described above, it did not work. However, on the fourth attempt, before relaunching the MAC mail app, I did a “restart”. After the restart, and relaunching MAC mail, all gmail sub labels (folders in Mac Mail) were finally in alpha order! THANK YOU!!

  7. Won’t this permanently delete any messages that have been moved to “On My Mac”? I would think that forcing a reindex would make more sense than deleting the mail data and redownloading it from the server (my stored mail contains a mixture of stuff on IMap/Exchange servers and locally stored archives).

    1. that’s exactly what happened to me. All the “cloud” folders were sorted, but the “on my mac” folders were lost. Luckily I had not trashed the old V* file and I recovered everything.
      I wonder if there is was to avoid this problem.

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