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Mac Mail Mystery, starring Verizon and AOL

It was a rainy day in New York City. I emerged from the 1 train at 79th St, for an appointment with EW. She had spent two hours on the phone with Apple, and two hours with Verizon. She was at her wits’ end. Her mail was sometimes disappearing before her eyes from her iPad and iPhone, as if a ghost were moving her inbox messages to her trash.

I surveyed the scene. Two iPads, two iPhones, one Mac. An unusual circumstance: she had a verizon.net email address. Verizon decided they don’t want to host email any more, so they’ve given that dirty work to their subsidiary, AOL. Every customer with a verizon.net email address can keep it, but will be checking their mail at AOL. I figured this tricky business could confuse a computer’s mail program, since it’s an AOL in Verizon’s clothing.

The devices looked kosher. They were all set up for IMAP. Synchronized mail. As it should be.

The Mac was another story. It was set up for POP. Downloaded mail, not synchronized. But that alone didn’t explain the disappearing mail. Then I found it: the Mac was set to delete mail from the server, one week after downloading it. Culprit found. I’ve seen it before. I’ll see it again The thing to do was save the downloaded mail into On My Mac, remove the account, add it back as IMAP, and copy the saved mail back into the server folders. Easy peasy.

Except it wasn’t. The Mac insisted that because the email ended in verizon.net, it had to be set up as POP, because that was all Verizon had offered. Even AOL’s own tech support page said that POP was the only option for people using Apple Mail.

But I don’t take no for an answer from computers. Apple’s done their damnedest to keep you from customizing your Mail setup, but I faked it out by putting in bad account info. Then I got to the manual setup page, and put in the AOL IMAP and SMTP server information with the verizon.net email address.

The account loaded up. It matched the iPad and iPhone. I left EW breathing easy.

I went to my next client, to work on my next case.

image by m01229 courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

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