How to Configure Apple Mail to Avoid Duplicate Drafts with Gmail

| MGG Answers


Tony writes: I use Apple’s Mail application to access my Gmail account. When I use Mail’s search function, it returns not only my inbound and sent messages that match the query, but also a long list of partially completed draft messages, saved every 30 seconds.

I don’t see a problem with saving frequent, incremental copies of messages as I compose them, but I definitely don’t want them cluttering up my search results.

How can I configure Mail to delete these draft messages once the final message is complete and sent?


The problem you’re experiencing is a common one for users of both Apple Mail and Gmail. As we mention in our How-To Guide for Setting up Gmail and Apple Mail, a difference in the way that Gmail and Mail handle draft messages causes many duplicates to be stored and retained when Mail is configured to keep copies of drafts on the server. Therefore, despite its potential convenience, we recommend that Apple Mail users configure the software to only store drafts on the local computer.

To change the way Mail stores draft messages, open the application and go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts. Select your Gmail account from the list on the left, and then select the “Mailbox Behaviors” button on the right. Uncheck the box “Store draft messages on the server.”

Gmail Store Draft on Server

Mail will still keep frequent drafts of your sent messages as you compose them, but they will not be stored on Gmail’s servers and will only be accessible by the local computer on which the message was created. This means that if you begin to compose an email on your laptop but wait to send it, you won’t be able to access what you’ve written thus far from another device, such as your iPhone.

On the plus side, you’ll no longer have hundreds of draft email messages cluttering your search results.

Keep in mind that this configuration is due to a specific issue with Gmail. Other IMAP email services, such as Apple’s iCloud, function normally when draft messages are stored on the server.

Teaser graphic created with help from Shutterstock.

This question was originally answered on MGG 410: Don’t Let Mountain Lion Litter The Sandbox

About MGG Answers:

Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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Khürt Williams

Good tip.  I turned off all the check boxes.  I simply found Gmail worked better in Mail when I keep those folders local.


Excellent ‘fix’ to a problem that’s been annoying me in Mail ever since Lion.



This was VERY helpful. thank you!!


I’ve seen similar issue with other IMAP set ups. Drafts get saved, and stay there long after the message has been finalised and sent. Storing locally seems to work. Only seems to be an issue on Lion and Mountain Lion, though.


Germán Pablo Gentile

Great tip. Sadly that seems to don’t work on Maverick. I save it, and the re enter to settings and again is checked and again i have a lot of draws on my gmail account.

Jim R

Here is how to fix this in Mavericks:

1) Quit
2) Log into Gmail in your favorite web browser.
3) Click on the gear menu and select “Settings”.
4) Click on the “Labels” tab.
5) Under “System Labels”, next to “Drafts”, click on “show if unread” and uncheck the “Show in IMAP’ box.

Now disable “Store draft messages on the server”:

6) Launch
7) Select Mail > Preferences…
8) Click on the “Accounts” button in the toolbar.
9) Click once on the account name and then click the “Mailbox Behaviors” tab.
10) Uncheck the “Store draft messages on the server” box.
11) Close the window and opt to save your changes when prompted.


Jim R - no idea how you figured that out, but that’s awesome.  THANK YOU!!!!

Alex Turner

Jim R - Absolutely amazing find, thank you!

Greg Butler

Changing settings in Mail did not work for me.  Mail did not save the preference - every time I went back to select a Gmail account, the Save Drafts in Server would be selected.  I went to my Gmail account settings (via a browser) and under Settings/Labels, unselect Drafts from Imap.  It is a sad tradeoff as you cannot start an email on one device and finish on another, but still better than having to verify if every email in your drafts folder has in fact been sent.


Now . . . if I don’t save my drafts on the server and something happens to my computer and i have to reconfigure the mail app. How do I find the drafts?

Joel Lumon Black

Im starting a list of issues I am experiencing with Sierra, and this is on it, but no way to turn off drafts!  If I find a solution with Sierra, Ill post it here:

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