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Ghost of index.dat

Be prepared for a shocker.

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Drill down into your Mail directory - ~/Library/Mail. Run Xstrings on 'AvailableFeeds', 'Envelope Index' and 'MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded3'. Be prepared for a shocker. You should find everything about your life in them.

You could try removing them but there's a catch: if 'Envelope Index' is nullified (as in copying from /dev/null) the good old Apple Mail team will assume you haven't completed your 'install' yet - so you'll get a blocking 'Mail Message Import' window where you can only click on 'cancel' or 'continue'. When you 'continue' you'll see a progress indicator whiz by and you'll next be told the import is complete. Even though nothing's been imported.


When you look back on disk you'll see your old 'Envelope Index' has been renamed 'Envelope Index-1', bloated to 225280 bytes, and been replaced by a new 'Envelope Index' at another 225280 bytes. But nothing's happened.

Nothing happens if you zap 'AvailableFeeds' and 'MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded3' as long as your folders are empty.

cp /dev/null ~/Library/Mail/AvailableFeeds
cp /dev/null ~/Library/Mail/MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded3

Note: it's very important to not run the second command above when you still have messages in Apple Mail. The program evidently does not look on disk for your messages - it checks 'MessageUidsAlreadyDownloaded3'. If that file is suddenly empty Mail won't find your messages ever again. Caution! Ed.

Do like this to rid yourself of issues with 'Envelope Index'.

  1. Disconnect from your network, Internet, all of that.
  2. Run 'cp /dev/null ~/Library/Mail/Envelope\ Index'.
  3. Start Apple Mail. Go through the 'message import' ritual.
  4. Close Apple Mail. Reconnect to your network, Internet, etc.
  5. From CWD run 'mv Envelope\ Index-1 Envelope\ Index'.
  6. Copy 'Envelope Index' to a neutral location.
  7. Use this copy to overwrite the original regularly.


Note: there are quite a few files in the Apple Mail directory that need further inspecting. Ed.

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