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Quick fixes when Mail app quit unexpectedly on Mac

7 min read

Imagine you’ve just typed a ridiculously long email…and then Apple Mail quit unexpectedly. Apps crashing on Mac is not only counterproductive, it could be indicative of some underlying Mac performance issues, or even malware. This is why, instead of typing all your emails in a text editor to avoid the risks, we recommend that you learn how to solve Mail quit unexpectedly Apple issue. We’ll help. 

Why does my Mail quit unexpectedly? 

Fair question. There are so many things you can do to try and fix the issue, but you’ll be able to fix it so much faster if you know what stands behind it. So why does my Mail quit unexpectedly — Mac bug? Corrupted files? Malware? — let’s look at the most common reasons:

  • Outdated app. You might need to update your Mail for it to function properly. 
  • macOS bugs. Is your Mac running a macOS beta or a freshly released macOS, by any chance? Early macOS bugs are very common — here’s more
  • Account glitches. Your Mail app might be okay, but a certain email account crashes. 
  • Corrupted preference files could lead to Mail app misbehaving. 
  • Malware. Maybe you’ve accidentally downloaded a malicious file or program to your Mac. 

Let’s look at how you can fix each of these issues step by step. 

How to fix “Mail quit unexpectedly” issue

Whether your Mac Mail keeps crashing repeatedly or it’s something you’ve encountered for the first time, there’s a way to make this issue a thing of the past. Follow these steps. 

Check for malware 

CleanMyMac X has a malware scan feature built in, so you don’t have to install any expensive antivirus software or take your Mac to the nearby service center. Just hit one button and see the results: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X via Setapp 
  2. Choose Malware Removal and Click Scan
  3. If CleanMyMac X finds any malware threats, click Remove to get rid of them. 

Malware Removal

Rebuild mailboxes

This is a great tip for those who can still access their Mail app after quitting. Rebuilding mailboxes is essentially used to retrieve all your emails and attachments from the mail server. It’s also been known as an effective troubleshooting method for the Apple Mail quits unexpectedly issue. Because it refreshes your email list, it can prevent Mail quitting. 

Here’s how to rebuild mailboxes: 

  1. Open Mail on Mac
  2. In the menu, choose Mailboxes
  3. Scroll down and click Rebuild. 

Rebuild mailbox

Disable and re-enable Mail accounts

There could be a problem with one of your email accounts, not the Mail app per se. Luckily, there’s a handy shortcut for disabling and re-enabling email accounts, which could potentially fix the issue of Mail quitting. Here’s how to use it: 

  1. Open System Preferences and choose Internet Accounts
  2. Choose the account in the left sidebar 
  3. Uncheck Mail on the right. 

Now that you’ve disabled one of the accounts, go back to Mail and check if it’s working better now. If it doesn’t work, you can re-enable the account and proceed with further troubleshooting.

set up Internet Accounts

Update Mail app 

It’s very common that Mail quits unexpectedly on Mac because it’s outdated or incompatible with the current macOS system. A simple Mail app update will help.

You can update Mail by updating your macOS (About This Mac > Software Update) — but it might take a while. Unfortunately, with system apps like Mail, that’s the only option. 

A faster way to update other apps on Mac — and even multiple apps at once — is to use CleanMyMac X: 

  1. In CleanMyMac X, navigate to Updater 
  2. Choose View All Updates 
  3. Select the apps you want to update and click Update. 

We love it that CleanMyMac X also lets you read about what’s new in the app before you update it. A one-stop updater section that makes app updates so convenient! 

CleanMyMac X Updater > Slack

Delete Preference files

There are settings that you can manage, and then there are those hidden under the hood. Preference files hold the instructions for how your apps should work, which means if these files are corrupted, your apps might start acting weird.

If Mail keeps crashing on Mac, try deleting its Preference files: 

  1. Open Finder 
  2. Click Go in the menu 
  3. Choose Go to Folder 
  4. Type the following path: ~/Library/Preferences and click Go
  5. Locate the files named com.apple.mail.plist and com.apple.mail-shared.plist and delete them. 

com.apple.mail-shared.plist

Deleting Preference files basically resets your Mail app. We love this method because it helps reset app defaults and repair so many annoying issues. You can instantly reset your third-party apps without digging into preferences with CleanMyMac X: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X > Uninstaller
  2. Click View All Applications
  3. Select the app you want to reset and click the Show arrow 
  4. Select Preferences (you can also select all the supporting files and binaries for a deeper cleanup) 
  5. Change Uninstall to Reset 
  6. Click the Remove button. 

Reset an app

Delete Mail saved folder

Here’s one important symptom you should look for: does your Apple Mail quit unexpectedly when you open it for the first time or is it rather random? If it tends to quit right after opening, there might be an issue with your Mail’s saved folder — a special cache folder responsible for reopening your Mail app after you quit it. 

Delete the saved folder to stop Mail from quitting unexpectedly: 

  1. Open Finder
  2. In the menu, choose Go > Go to Folder
  3. Type ~/Library/Saved Application State/ and click Go
  4. Delete the folder named com.apple.mail.savedState.

com.apple.mail.savedState

Restart your Mac

“Mail quit unexpectedly” Apple issue could be a Mac glitch that can be fixed by a simple computer restart. Sounds too easy? Don’t brush it off until you try it! 

Boot in Safe Mode 

Another thing to try is to reboot your Mac in Safe Mode. It helps stop all the third-party software from interfering with your system processes, repairs hard drive, and clears caches. This might be just what you need to fix the Mail issue. 

Here’s how to boot in Safe Mode if Apple Mail quits unexpectedly on an Intel Mac: 

  1. Turn off your Mac
  2. Press and hold the power button + Shift until you see the login screen
  3. Log in and try using Mail. 

Here’s how to boot in Safe Mode on an Apple Silicon Mac: 

  1. Turn off your Mac
  2. Press and hold the power button until you see the screen with startup options
  3. Choose your startup disk 
  4. Press and hold Shift while clicking Continue in Safe Mode
  5. Check if Mail works better now. 

Run a network check

The quality of network connection is a big factor when it comes to the Mail app. If the connection is unstable, you’ll have issues such as emails not updating in your inbox, or worse, Mail quitting unexpectedly. The easiest way to inspect your network connection is the following: 

  1. Open WiFi Explorer via Setapp
  2. Find your current network and click it 
  3. Go to Network Details and look for the warning signs: maybe your network shares a channel with too many other networks, or the signal quality is too low
  4. Switch to a different network if your current one doesn’t function properly. 

check signal quality

If you’re not a Setapp subscriber and can’t access WiFi Explorer, try disabling and enabling Wi-Fi, forgetting your current network, and check if your email account is online (Mail menu > Mailbox > Take All Accounts Online). 

Try alternative email clients for Mac 

Apple Mail quits unexpectedly and you can’t fix it? Take it as a sign from the universe that it’s time to try out some alternatives! There’s a plethora of advanced email clients designed specifically for Mac. Let’s take a look at our favorite two. 

If security is one of the key aspects when choosing an email client, choose Canary Mail. Its top-tier encryption and SecureSend feature let you revoke emails or set them to expire. You’ll also love the interface, from email templates to pinned emails to newsletter management. 

SecureSend expires time

If you’re a fan of a tidy and organized inbox, try Newton. There’s a stellar Tidy Inbox feature that lets you set priorities in your inbox and declutter it automatically. With Newton on your Mac and iPhone, you can also snooze emails, catch up on the emails you’ve missed using a Recap section, get notified when a recipient opens your email, and more. 

Enable Link Receipts

Mail quits unexpectedly on Mac — get it fixed fast 

We love how Apple keeps updating and refining Mail. The recent macOS versions brought along improved security, Hide My Email, undo send, and tons of other important Mail enhancements. This is why the “Mail quit unexpectedly” Apple issue feels so frustrating. 

Setapp, an app subscription service for macOS and iOS, is home to many apps that can help fix Mail issues and even offer you an alternative email client. Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to WiFi Explorer, CleanMyMac X, Newton, Canary Mail, and dozens of other useful tools, all in one place. 

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