Tiger Mail problem – Comparing notes with server…

Since upgrading to Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4), I have been having severe problems with the Mail app.

On receiving a new mail and selecting it, the email displays the notice “Loading message…” and no more appears to happen. Opening the Activity Viewer, you see a progress bar and a “Updating cache directory, Comparing notes with server…”. The progress bar goes nowhere even when left for hours on end.

The only way to view the message is to quit Mail and re-open it again. This happens for each new mail coming in.

Deleting the Library -> Caches -> Mail folder doesn’t help. Similarly, deleting the com.apple.mail.plist, doesn’t help either. I found both suggestions after searching on Google.

When that didn’t work, I re-installed Tiger – this time instead of doing a basic upgrade, I did an upgrade and archive in order that I’d get a completely new version of Tiger.

The same problem recurred after the re-install. AAAAAhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

If I don’t resolve this soon, I’ll have to start using Thunderbird which would be a shame, ‘cos I quite liked Mail and I have been using it without any problems for the last 3 or 4 years.


I finally resolved my Mail problem – see this post for more

19 thoughts on “Tiger Mail problem – Comparing notes with server…”

  1. I re-installed Tiger – this time instead of doing a basic upgrade, I did an upgrade and archive

    Already tried that James, unfortunately it didn’t work (and I was viewing that as a last resort!)


  2. Your problem completely mirrors my own and I have followed the same, unsuccessful, attempts at getting it running to pre-Tiger efficiency.

    I wonder whether you have had any luck sorting this. I have a POP account which is working fine in Mail it just seems that Mail isn’t remembering that it has already cached my .Mac (IMAP) account. I tried a little experiment sending a 500k image from my web email to both accounts. The POP mail downloaded it in a few seconds with no problem. The .Mac account took about 6mins to download and when it had finally displayed it was 230k bigger than the original!?

    I hope this is a Tiger problem that will be fixed but whilst finding a lot of unhappy customers on the web none seem to be experiencing quite the same behaviour as this.

  3. I had the same problem. Turns out, mine was a problem most people would not encounter. There were emails on the server with the wrong ownership, and could not be read by mail.app.. The ownership was never an issue under 10.3.x or in eudora or squirrel(web)mail. Wondering what changed here… Doesn’t make a whole buch of sence.

  4. Solved mine by simply switching my .Mac account to POP. I miss some of the IMAP benefits but at least it’s quick!



  5. I encountered this thread after I did a google search, as I had the same problem, but I am don’t have Tiger, but 10.3.9. It was not a problem before I upgraded, but I don’t remember from which version that was. Also, when I use the university website to access my mail, it doesn’t happen, so it really seems specific to Mail.
    Anyway, I thought I’d share.

  6. Tom,
    Thanks for your response. Yes, I had seen your post, but am a bit uncertain how to go about it. I have hundreds of preference files in that folder. The fact that you later put the mail.preferences file back makes me assume that you believe that it is not the mail preferences themselves that are the problem, but some other file? I may give it a try though. I could alway put all the original preferences back in place if things go wrong, no?

  7. Erick,

    if you remove the folder and re-start your Mac. The mac will automatically re-create most of those hundreds of preference files. The trick is to keep the old Preferences folder so you can always revert to it if needs be.

    The reason I put the mail preferences back in is that I had discounted them as being the cause of the problem earlier by removing them first and re-starting the Mac!

    The Mail preferences file keeps track of all you mail settings (if you have multiple mail accounts, this can be quite important!).

    Hope this helps – leave me know how you get on,


  8. Dear Tom,
    I tried it, but it did not solve the problem. My university’s IT Support Center, who I also had written, suggested that I would have Mail rebuild its message cache, by clicking on the
    inbox and selecting “Rebuild” from the Mailbox menu (they said one can do this for all folders). Well, I did that, and it worked! Perhaps upgrading OS X affected the mail cache. Either way, it’s back at full speed now. 🙂
    Kind regards,

  9. Erick,

    that’s great news – I’m delighted for you.

    Thanks for coming back here and sharing the solution – that will help others who might have this problem.

  10. Dear Tom,
    Well, the problem is back. I thought it would not be right to not let you know, so here you go. I give up. I may try Thunderbird for a while…
    Kind regards,

  11. Dear Tom,

    I have had the same Mail problem as Erick after
    installing Tiger. I have tried both proposed fixes,
    the suggested Mailbox > Rebuild as well as removing the
    Library > Preferences folder, and neither one resolves
    the slow mail problem. I have a hard time believing
    we are the only people who have encountered this
    truly annoying problem. Is there any help out there?

  12. CanI please add my name to the growing list of folk who are having mail problems!

    My G4 (OS10.3.9)suddenly stopped receiving mail for no reason 2 days ago and tells me the server rejects my password even though I know it’s right. It can send out but not receive and just keeps churning and saying that’s it’s comparing notes with server.

    I have dumped endless .plists, managed SMTP scrips,archived and re-installed the system, repaired permissions, dumped mail folders, keychains and checked with service provider that everything is in order.

    I can access my email on a different machine with same settings and the other mac we have can access email fine with same configuration so it seems to be specific to my mac.

    I have lost an entire day trawling through forums and support sites and I’m at a complete loss now. I updated the system using the OS X 10.3.9 combined update a week ago and things seem to have gone a bit Pete Tong since then. I’m getting demented now!! Is it something obvious I’m missing? Any help would be greatly appreciated! :o)

  13. Had my trusty titanium G4 Powerbook stolen in South Africa and after a suicidal day thinking my life had ended (it was my organization’s main computer!), cheered up knowing that my mail was somewhat backed up on my .Mac account. Then then the kind people who were hosting me purchased me a brand new Tiger loaded G4 PB…. so I did not have to use Webmail. At first all seemed ok on broadband wireless networks Mail seemed to work…. kind of… kept doing weird things like vanishing my Inbox and not showing my Sent mail. (IMAP is set by default). At first Mail showed a complete set of the folders I created both on my computer and on the Mac server…. then I tried using INBOX in my IMAP server path and the .Mac server folders vanished…. speed keeps getting slower and like others I have been getting zero help from Apple. To add insult to injury Apple sent me a nice little mail last week asking me if I was making good use of Support !#$%*!

    Now the app refuses to send mail at all….. and it cant save to draft either. Moved folders take ages to re-appear and vanish while waiting which is very distressing. The whole app seems to have been taken over by Zombies with a very bad attitude towards efficiency and order.

    Dont feel like phoning Apple from Indonesia (where I work) so have spent days dredging forums and getting so many different work arounds that I dont dare follow any at all…. Just read down this forum and thought yipeeee! when I read that rebuilding the inbox would fix my problem….did it, only to read a bit further and find out it is a waste of time….

    There are a huge number of links out there regarding this problem and I is hard to believe that Apple are keeping silent. It must be worse than any of us think. Fingers crossed. Ready to try ANYTHING to get back in business… well short of buying anything from Mr Gates that is.

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