How To Make Gmail and OS X Mavericks Play Well Together

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Apple changed the way Mail works with Gmail accounts in OS X Mavericks, and that's proving to be a headache for plenty of people. Luckily, the fix isn't difficult, although dealing with the change is a bit of a pain.

The problem is that to handle Google's non-standard IMAP implementation, Mail users prior to the release of OS X Mavericks needed to disable the All Mail option in Gmail. That workaround was great because it worked, but Mail in Mavericks does a 180 and requires All Mail to be enabled, and that's where the problem starts. If you disable All Mail, Mavericks now causes messages to jump back to where they started, or get duplicated, after they're moved to different mailbox folders.

To stop that from happening, you need to re-enable All Mail. Here's how:

  • Launch your favorite Web browser and log in to your Gmail account
  • Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your email view, and choose Settings
  • Now click Labels
  • Check All Mail under System labels

Enable All Mail in Gmail's settings to mostly fix your Mavericks email headachesEnable All Mail in Gmail's settings to mostly fix your Mavericks email headaches

Now your messages will stay where the belong. As for hard drive space, well, that's a different matter. Previously if you had All Mail enabled, any messages that had duplicate labels in GMail would actually download duplicate copies to your Mac. Now, though, Mail is a wee bit smarter, and it will only store the one copy in All Mail, but will let you see your messages in other mailboxes if you've set them there.

Still, those that disabled All Mail to keep from having all their mail downloaded to their Macs are no longer able to do that. But if your mail is valuable to you, you shouldn't be just leaving it on Gmail's servers -- having a copy on your Mac acts as a bit of a backup. Plus, you know, you have no option now. As we said before, All Mail must be enabled to ensure Mail functions properly.

It would've been great if Apple had found a way to more elegantly handle Google's funky IMAP system earlier, and it would've also been nice if the company had made it clearer that Mail in Mavericks would break the workaround so many people were relying on. This looks like a great opportunity for a third-party email app or plug-in developer. Or, you know, another email service provider entirely.

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Yes, this transition sure was painful. But, now that it’s over, I actually prefer the way it works now. Fortunately, I have plenty of hard drive space, so having All Mail downloaded isn’t a big deal for me.

However, it looks like Apple has done some other changes under the hood. In general, it looks like they now try to work with Gmail labels across the board, rather than using IMAP folders and letting Gmail translate that to labels. My first clue was when I watched the activity window in Mail and saw messages about labels being changed or applied. I don’t recall seeing this before. I also noticed that Mail is treating the IMAP prefix [Gmail] differently. I had Mail configured with [Gmail] in the IMAP prefix to clean up the folder list. When I created a new folder in Mail, it did not create it under [Gmail] on the Gmail web interface. I ended up removing the IMAP prefix and had to clean up a bit of folder and label mess.

Now, I’m having problems with Applescript. Scripts that would read Gmail folders to process each message are not getting any messages returned even though they are in the folder. I wonder if there are new commands to deal with labels and Gmail or if it’s just broken.

Scott Goldman

Having suffered through the Mavericks/Gmail/Mail problem I believe that I have stumbled upon a workaround (and possible fix) that is still working after two days of testing.

In short, moving and deleting Gmail messages from any iOS device - without the “All Mail” folder having been activated in Gmail - has yielded a permanent move or deletion of that message.  Moreover, it appears that following a couple of moves/deletions from my iOS device I can now do the same in Mail without the mail reappearing in the In Box. 

To be clear, all of this is done WITHOUT the Gmail “All Mail” folder being shown in either the iOS or Mac OS Mail apps. 

While I am mystified as to why invoking a change on the iOS device would generate a permanent solution on the Mac OS side I can verify that this “fix” (inadvertent as it is) is working properly after 2+ days of testing, quitting/relaunching Mail, restarting, etc. 

I recommend that anyone having problems with Gmail in the on Mavericks try this simple solution *before* resorting to using the All Mail folder solution. 

Good luck - I hope your result is as successful as mine has been (and that posting this doesn’t jinx my fix!)

Dan Kennedy

Funny ... I’ve always had All Mail enabled. I never heard that I was supposed to disable it. I’ve found Apple Mail to be an OK Gmail client, though slow. Probably because I had All Mail enabled.


I have noticed another more annoying problem. I have always had AllMail present in the Mac Mail client. Now, when I move an email to a folder on my Mac (Mavericks mail app) the copy on Gmail is moved to the trash. That means that it will be deleted in 30 days from Gmail, and thus since it is an IMAP protocol, will also be deleted from my Mac. So, if I file an email in any folder on the Mac, it will disappear in 30 days. THIS is a real problem

Dan Kennedy

I “upgraded” to Mavericks last night. Only a few Gmail messages are showing up in my Apple Mail inbox. I have All Mail turned on in Gmail. Kind of a disaster. Everything’s very slow, too. I did a complete backup in Time Machine before the upgrade, so I may go back.

Peter Lisi

If I enable “all mail” in my gmail settings, will I also be downloading all these emails onto my iPhone too?

Jonny Green

Unfortunately, I think there is a greater underlying problem that this article doesn’t address and probably only Apple can fix. Searching through support forums shows plenty of users (myself included) who have always had “All Mail” enabled, and are experiencing sync problems like not being able to move mail out of the inbox on the Mac, and not seeing the same mail across all devices.

Navin Watumull

I’ve always had “All Mail” enabled, so this hasn’t helped anything for me.  Mail is SO slow, it arrives faster on my phone and sporadically on Mac Mail.
Overall, this Mavericks upgrade has my MacBook Pro slow and lagging all the time. It seems like it’s always “thinking”.  Notes doesn’t sync well either.


Good to know this. Thanks for sharing..
Here I would like to share a simple tool called Beyond Inbox to organize your Inbox. It’ll also helps you to Backup, Archive, Transfer and Restore your Emails.
Beyond Inbox’s new version with much improved performance using parallel processing option is released :

Navin Watumull

Forgot to mention - since the Mavericks install, whenever my MacBook Pro goes to password protected screen saver when inactive, the wireless connection disconnects in the background.  After unlocking the screen, the wireless connection reconnects after a couple seconds, but Mac Mail doesn’t recognize the connection for minutes, and longer to download mail even when it does recognize that it has internet service.  Of course, none of this happened while on the previous OS. 

I know what the Mac store Geniuses will say: “Do a clean erase and reinstall”.
That’s what they always say.

Joseph Keene

Agree with comments above that this article does not address the underlying issues—this is a problem for all of us who have had “All Mail” enabled for years.  Mavericks broke the ability to synchronize gmail in folders in the Mail app.  Period.

It’s also annoying to read comments about gmail’s “non-standard” IMAP implementation, as if that were somehow to blame.  Gmail has 720 million users worldwide.  Mac OS has about 72 million.  Whatever you think of the technical choices made by google in implementing gmail, 720 million users makes you a standard.

John Harlow 1

I am confused. I use 3 gmail accounts with my Mavericks mail. I use lots of labels in gmail. I’ve always gone to the web interface to search “All Mail” and never had it on my mac. I am still set up that way and everything (including the labels) still works.

What am I missing?


Surely a bug can’t be a standard, no matter how many copies of it there are.

Spyder Ryder

That didn’t solve the problem.  I have never turned off “all mail” in my google mail.  It’s still turned on and even after the update, apple mail still does not play well with my gmail.  It fails to download some mail.  It often leaves “drafts” in the draft tab long after they’ve been sent, sometimes my gmail doesn’t show up in the unified inbox but does in the individual gmail account.  Lots of problems, but the worst is it not downloading all my email.  I downgraded my macbook Air to Mountain Lion and the mail works fine.  I’m getting ready to downgrade my 27” iMac to get mail working again.  I’ll never upgrade to another apple OS even if its free!  Each one has more problems that the last.

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