Fix Issues with Creating New Folders in Mac Mail

How to Fix Issues with Creating New Folders in Mac Mail

Apple’s Mac Mail application is a powerful and user-friendly email client that comes pre-installed on macOS devices. One of its essential features is the ability to organize emails by creating new folders. However, users sometimes encounter difficulties when attempting to create new folders in Mac Mail. This comprehensive guide will explore the common issues related to creating new folders in Mac Mail and provide detailed solutions to help you overcome these challenges.

Understanding Mac Mail’s Folder Structure

Before diving into troubleshooting, it’s crucial to understand how Mac Mail organizes its folder structure:

Mailboxes: The main container for all your email accounts and folders.
Smart Mailboxes: Automatically populated folders based on specific criteria.
On My Mac: Local folders stored on your computer.
Individual Email Accounts: Folders specific to each email account you’ve added.

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Common Issues When Creating New Folders in Mac Mail

  1. Greyed out or missing “New Mailbox” option
  2. Error messages when attempting to create a folder
  3. Folders not appearing after creation
  4. Sync issues with IMAP accounts
  5. Permissions problems
  6. Corrupted Mail preferences

Let’s address each of these issues and provide step-by-step solutions.

1. Greyed Out or Missing “New Mailbox” Option


The “New Mailbox” option is greyed out in the “Mailbox” menu.
The “+” button at the bottom of the sidebar is unresponsive.


a) Ensure you’re in the correct view:

Click on “Mailboxes” in the sidebar to expand the view.
Select the account or location where you want to create the new folder.

b) Check account settings:

Go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts.
Select the account you’re trying to create a folder in.
Ensure the account is active and properly configured.

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c) Rebuild the Mailbox:

Select the problematic mailbox.
Go to Mailbox > Rebuild.
Wait for the process to complete and try creating a new folder.

2. Error Messages When Attempting to Create a Folder


You receive an error message such as “Unable to create mailbox” or “Operation failed”.


a) Check internet connection:

Ensure you have a stable internet connection.
Try disconnecting and reconnecting to your network.

b) Verify server settings:

Go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts.
Select the account and click on “Server Settings”.
Confirm that all settings are correct and match your email provider’s recommendations.

c) Restart Mail application:

Quit Mail completely (Command + Q).
Relaunch the application and try creating a folder again.

3. Folders Not Appearing After Creation


You successfully create a new folder, but it doesn’t show up in the sidebar.


a) Refresh Mail view:

Press Command + Shift + N to create a new Mail viewer window.
Close the original window and check if the new folder appears.

b) Collapse and expand Mailboxes:

Click on the triangle next to “Mailboxes” in the sidebar to collapse it.
Click again to expand and see if the new folder appears.

c) Rebuild Envelope Index:

Quit Mail.

Go to ~/Library/Mail/V9 (or the highest number).
Move the file “Envelope Index” to the Trash.
Relaunch Mail and allow it to rebuild the index.

4. Sync Issues with IMAP Accounts


New folders created locally don’t sync with the server.
Folders created on other devices don’t appear in Mac Mail.


a) Force sync:

Go to Mailbox > Synchronize > [Your Account Name].
Wait for the sync to complete and check for the new folder.

b) Check IMAP path prefix:

Go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts.
Select the IMAP account and click on “Server Settings”.
Verify the “IMAP Path Prefix” is correct (usually blank or “INBOX”).

c) Recreate the account:

Note down your account settings.
Remove the account from Mail > Preferences > Accounts.
Add the account back with the correct settings.

5. Permissions Problems

You receive “Permission denied” errors when trying to create folders.

a) Check account permissions:

Log in to your email account via webmail.
Verify that you have permission to create folders.
Contact your email administrator if necessary.

b) Repair disk permissions:

Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities).
Select your startup disk.
Click on “First Aid” and run the process.

c) Reset Mail permissions:

Quit Mail.
Open Terminal (Applications > Utilities).
Enter: sudo chown -R $(whoami) ~/Library/Mail
Enter your admin password when prompted.
Relaunch Mail.

6. Corrupted Mail Preferences

Multiple Mail functions, including folder creation, are not working correctly.

a) Reset Mail preferences:

Quit Mail.
Go to ~/Library/Containers/
Move the file “” to the Desktop.
Relaunch Mail and test folder creation.

b) Create a new Mail profile:

Quit Mail.
Hold down the Option key while launching Mail.
Click “Create New” when prompted.
Set up your accounts in the new profile.
Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

If the above solutions don’t resolve your issue, consider these advanced steps:

1. Use Console to identify errors:

Open Console (Applications > Utilities).
Search for “Mail” in the search bar.
Attempt to create a new folder and look for related error messages.

2. Check for macOS updates:

Click on the Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update.
Install any available updates for macOS.

3. Rebuild Mail’s database:

Quit Mail.
Open Terminal.
Enter: sqlite3 ~/Library/Mail/V9/MailData/Envelope\ Index vacuum;
Relaunch Mail.


Creating new folders in Mac Mail is an essential feature for organizing your emails effectively. While issues can arise, most problems can be resolved with the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide. By understanding the common causes of folder creation issues and applying the appropriate solutions, you can maintain a well-organized and efficient email system on your Mac.

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