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Apple Mail "Move" to button in Mojave  



For me, one of the improvements in Mojave is that in Apple Mail the "Move" button now is smart enough to figure out what folder you're likely to want to move a message to based on what you've done with similar e-mails in the past ... at least it's smart enough some of the time.


Anybody know why it doesn't work all / most of the time?


Couple of examples ... every day our tape backup system sends me a status report.  I have that come to my inbox rather than be filtered into a folder by a rule because that way I'm more likely to look at it and make sure there's no issues that need to be addressed.  But when I go to click on "Move", it's already got my "Tape Backup" folder listed there as the default location it'll move it to.  Great!  Saves me some time.


However, when my wife sends me e-mail Apple Mail can't seem to figure out that I'm going to want to move it to the "Leesa" folder ... despite the fact that no one / no thing e-mails me more than she does.


Oh, this is kind of a tangent but since upgrading to Mojave I've only had one Apple app crash on me ... yep, Apple Mail.


Old UNIX Guy

3 Answers

I am trying to read between the lines for this specific statement that Apple makes in the support article that I posted earlier.

Mail can suggest a mailbox based on where you moved similar emails in the past.

The statement says 'can' which speaks of an ability. So we know that Mail should be able to suggest a mailbox. 'Suggesting a mailbox' does not in my view, mean the correct suggestion. It also speaks of 'similar emails' and this is the most contentious for me because the support article does not in anyway define 'similar'. In other words, I don't know how Apple Mail is determining what the support article describes as 'similar'. I don't believe the mechanics or algorithms are public available nor do I believe AppleCare Support would be privy to this knowledge as it would play a limited role in their support calls. Most users call AppleCare because they can't send or receive emails, that's the main call driver.

So we are left with perhaps trying to discover a 'reset' to this feature. So now we have to hunt for where that might be. It could be a cache file, it could some other file.

I will leave this reset idea here for you to consider. If you don't find a way to reset this feature through search I would suggest the following and I know that you already considered some of this:

  • Is the issue isolated to a single email recipient or domain?
  • Is the issue isolated to messages received for a specific email email account of yours?

As I attempted to research this further I noticed different wording.

Click the Move To button in the Mail toolbar, then choose a mailbox (or use the Touch Bar). Mail may suggest a mailbox based on where you’ve moved similar messages in the past.

Suddenly the operative word is 'may' which only describes the possibility of not an absolute. So I am left confused as the article I pointed you to in an earlier post referenced the feature in different degrees of absolutism.

It does present this gotcha though.

If you have an IMAP account and are unable to move messages, it’s possible the messages contain invalid characters (typically added by a mail server) or are too large, or you exceeded the storage limits set by your email account provider.

So analyze the contentious message for those attributes to make some determination on why the feature is not working as you expect it to.

The last message by Cynthia Hull (Apr 14, 2017 12:23 PM) over on Apple Discussions describes a similar frustration point as yours.

I remain as confused as you on the topic of "Apple mail's predicted mailbox" and how to reset it which I think could be a starting point. I don't know if reindexing mail might help or which of Mail's array of support files holds these values. If these values are stored in the cloud it could be worse as it will come down each time you try to brush Mail support files aside.

Here are three raw URLs on Apple Discussions. I didn't read them in full but one person described it as having 'fixed itself' without knowing why.

reset Apple mail's predictive mailbox

I am afraid that with this kind of issue you need to be very aware of the steps you are taking to understand how it works. You literally have to follow your steps and know what you did to get a sense of how it behaves.

You could, if you are so determined, create a new user account on your Mac, setup mail and that account should have the predicted mailbox set to a clean cache (I think it might be cache related, hopefully your particular history for this feature is not cloud based) and then try the feature on the affected messages to compare what happens. I realize this could be a waste of time for you or you are not that tenacious but if attempted it present new surprising results which might help you begin to isolate to a file level related problem which we can then begin to explore. If you do follow-up with a new user account for testing and find it works or behaves differently, keep that user account so that we can refer to it to see if we can discover which files created under the hood might account for the behavioral change.

If you need more help or discover something noteworthy please don't hesitate to come back so we can look at this further.

This post was modified 2 years ago 2 times by Alex Santos

Sorry about the long delay in replying:

According to Apple's Mail User Guide

You can quickly move selected emails to another mailbox by clicking the Move to button in the toolbar of the Mail window, then choosing a mailbox. Mail can suggest a mailbox based on where you moved similar emails in the past.

It looks like it learns from you. Apple is not very revealing about how it works.

Everyone who updated to Mojave has 90 days free phone support for the OS and whatever else came bundled. If you upgraded within those 90 days call AppleCare (if you wish), they may have some secret info that isn't in their general support articles.

So the so-called Suggested Mailbox feature works as you see it work, with a message selected, click the Move To button at the top of the window, and you’ll see a full list of common folders from each of your accounts as well as each of your mailbox's custom folders. Apple claims that Mail will eventually learn from what you’re choices and eventually it will suggest folders that you should move messages to.

However, when my wife sends me e-mail Apple Mail can't seem to figure out that I'm going to want to move it to the "Leesa" folder ... despite the fact that no one / no thing e-mails me more than she does.

You mentioned the block above and well to understand why would require knowledge on how Apple's algorithm works and some of the gotchas. Maybe ask your wife to send you 10 or 20 message with no subject and no content as this will give the feature very raw metadata to work from and perhaps this will provoke faster learning as there are fewer variables that it needs to analyze.

I can only suggest some patience and that you keep teaching Mail by using the feature as described and perhaps it will surprise you later on. To be fair, I didn't even know that was there, I use rules and smart folders as you appear to already employ.

Thanks for the response, Alex.


I upgraded to Mojave in late September right after it came out.  So I've been running it for well over a month now and Mail hasn't "learned" anything about where I move e-mails to.


But what's weird is that there were two categories of e-mails that after I filed one or two e-mails away it correctly suggests the same folder every time.




Old UNIX Guy


The issues with it not being able to figure out that I also move e-mail from my wife to the same folder persist.  For other regular e-mail recipients, it makes no suggestions at all.  For still others, it regularly suggest the same incorrect folder, despite me moving them to a different folder.

Wow - why are the paragraphs in my previous post out of order?


I want to use the TouchBar in the app MAIL,and use the"Move to"option;it only shows some folder in gmail related to the same mailbox,but doesn't show,using the TouchBar,the other options like for example to move the message to another mailbox.


Any clue?