1/12/17
6:12 pm

Forum Question: Is Mail Stored On My Hard Drive?

I am using Sierra. Are saved emails from my various email accounts like Hotmail, Gmail, etc. stored on my hard drive? I save some but don’t want those on my hard drive because of taking up space.
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Carol Harness

Comments: 6 Responses to “Is Mail Stored On My Hard Drive?”

    1/12/17 @ 6:12 pm

    That depends. Most email today, like Gmail, is cloud-based (IMAP). So on your hard drive you would have a cache of data, but your email is really stored on the server.
    However, you can set Mail to use the old “POP” system of email, which keeps a copy of each message as it comes in. But that isn’t typical.
    Now how much email is cached on your Mac depends on how you have it set on the server. For instance, with Gmail I can set the number of messages that IMAP pulls from the server to store locally to a number like 1,000 or 5,000 or ALL. So it depends on what you have that set to, and that setting would be in the Gmail web interface, not in the Mac Mail app.
    I’m not sure what options are available for Hotmail.

    Shirley
    1/19/17 @ 9:50 am

    What about the Mail Downloads folder which can be found easily by typing in “Mail Downloads” (without the quote marks) in Spotlight. That folder can be stuffed and may be emptied by dragging the items in it to the trash.

    1/19/17 @ 10:16 am

    Shirley: That folder contains email attachments that you have viewed in the Mail app (as opposed to saved to a location outside of Mail). You can clear it manually, but it is better to use the Mail preference: Mail, Preferences, General, Remove Unedited Downloads. This keeps it reasonably clean.

    Ann
    1/19/17 @ 3:51 pm

    I had pop mail in the past for my main and other email accounts from my ISP. When I recently moved my mail to a new Mac, I let the server settings come automatically and now all my accounts are imap. I have always created and maintained a folder system in Mac mail to organize and keep mail that I want to save. In Mac mail these folders appear under a list heading “on my Mac”. So I assume any messages that I move from my various imap inboxes are physically stored on my Mac. Right?

    1/19/17 @ 3:54 pm

    Back in the days of POP email (old and obsolete now) email was downloaded from the server to your Mac. That made it tough to have more than one device but that was OK before there were smartphones and tablets.
    “On My Mac” folders are literally that — storage on your Mac. But with IMAP there is no need to use them. In fact, if you do, you won’t find those folders on your other devices. Instead, using folders (AKA mailboxes) on your IMAP server is better. But I’m not sure of the capabilities of your IMAP server if you aren’t using Gmail or iCloud.

    Ann
    1/19/17 @ 4:36 pm

    Thanks Gary, I also use iCloud email. Can I create organization folders there within Mac mail? I suppose I can create and organize on my isp server as well, but I think would have to go into their webmail to do it, which is clumsy and impractical. I’m not ready to get rid of my isp mail (has good spam filtering), especially since I use the address for so many usernames (wish I had never done that), so maybe my mail organization system is also somewhat outdated now and needs to be reconsidered.

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