View Full Version : Can I selectively restore Mail?

2nd April 2010, 03:43 PM
In an attempt to stop Appleworks crashing constantly on my MacBook I trashed its preferences. Not realizing the consequences I got carried away, (having heard many times 'you can always trash your preferences') and trashed every preference I could find, something like 237 of them.

(I can hear the groans, please don't point and laugh.) Now Mail won't send. It will receive. While reentering the mail settings I deleted the outgoing mail server, which was showing up incorrectly, thinking I could reenter it correctly. The problem is Mail was open. No warning appeared. Now when I try to send an email a floating window asks me to enter the password for user "null". It won't accept my usual password.

The desktop has even reverted to Aurora. Can I go into Time Machine and select a date before the big prefs. toss and restore Mail to the way it was on the selected date or should I simply choose 'Restore' which I imagine will restore everything? Will that put all the preferences back the way they were, then I can just toss those for Appleworks? I'd really like everything back the way it was on March 28/2010.

If I delete my Mail A/C so I can start again all my emails will be deleted won't they? I tried selecting Archive Mail which directed me to choose a destination folder for Mailbox Archive. When I clicked 'Choose' it didn't give me anything to choose from. I have business emails saved in folders 'On my Mac' which I really need to keep.

I searched the forum and the Apple knowledge base but can't find the answers.

I really need advice here, please (along with a brain transplant) . Jenny

2nd April 2010, 03:53 PM
Deleting your mail accounts should be your LAST resort.

Have you tried going into Mail and re-entering your credentials for the accounts (ie. username@domain, password).
Also, do you have the correct outgoing mail server (SMTP) specified?

If that does work, maybe try quitting Mail and restoring just your mail preferences from Time Machine.

2nd April 2010, 04:48 PM
Hi Petronius, thanks for responding.

Yes, I have tried reentering my details but unfortunately my a/c seems to be permanently corrupted because I deleted the SMTP server while it was being used. The SMTP details are correct but when I try to send from my a/c it asks for the password for "null."

That's what I was wondering....if I could just restore my Mail prefs. I've never done anything with Time Machine before so don't really know its capabilities.

I'd still like to know if selecting say March 28,2010 and clicking restore if it will make everything as it was on that date. I can live with tossing out just the A/W prefs again after that. I'd just like to be able to go back to how everything was while retaining my emails.

Thanks again, Jenny

2nd April 2010, 04:51 PM
Deleting your mail account will also delete your emails. So don't do unless you've backed up Mail.

Are you currently able to receive any emails? If you are then it sounds like all you need to do is correct the outgoing email settings (probably not worth doing a time machine restore for this).

From what you've described it looks like you've set your outgoing mail server to require authentication but haven't put any user name or password in. Most ISP's that I'm aware of don't usually require authentication on the outgoing side. If you're not sure what settings you need to use, it might be worth giving your mail host a call to confirm before proceeding any further.

2nd April 2010, 04:54 PM
Hmm, could be something wonky in your keychain, which is where those usernames & passwords are stored.

I can't help you with Time Machine at the moment because mine is corrupt. I would have thought it should be relatively straightforward to restore one preference file from a specific date though...

3rd April 2010, 01:24 PM
Thanks again, Koinonus and Petronius. I'm quite convinced it's a keychain issue I'm having problems on both my desktop and my MacBook. Both have had HD's replaced (at different times) and both have given problems since. Both refuse to let me use my login password to access my keychain even though I've never changed the password on either or added any for special applications, except Skype and Mail. I don't know if the techs. who did the replacement HD's misspelled my password in ways I can't replicate or what the problem is. I've trid every possible variable. I've never turned on File Vault so I should probably just reset the password. It's a very simple password, for me, and one I've used forever so I know it's right.

I can't change the outgoing mail settings without getting into my keychain.

My desktop sends and receives mail, but Skype has asked for my password, and my laptop won't send mail but Skype works. I wanted to get into my keychain to look at the Skype password but neither computer will let me. Between the two of them I can send, receive and Skype but can only be on-line with one at a time.:confused:!!! Thanks again for your input.

Alex Morrow
3rd April 2010, 01:56 PM
Are you able to set up a new Mail account, perhaps with the same settings as the old one? If so, you may then be able to import the old mail that is in the old account without deleting it.

Searches on Mactalk will also find ways to change your original username and password - that may get you back on track. Another alternative may be to set up a new User account, and a new Mail account in that, with new Keychain Access too. As far as I can remember, there is a good tutorial on Mactalk for setting up a new User account.

Regarding Keychain Access, someone here may be able to tell you whether or not you could get into it through Terminal, perhaps after authenticating as Root. That way can get you into lots of trouble, unless you know what you are doing - that's why I haven't done it.

If you can get into Keychain Access somehow, there is a First Aid there for it.

It's all getting further away from your original problem, unfortunately.


3rd April 2010, 04:36 PM
Can you set up a completely new account? eg. newname@yourdomain.com.au
Most ISPs let you have a couple of email addresses per account.

I would try that first, before doing anything else. If you can save a new account name & pwd from Mail, then you will be one step closer to getting your existing accounts working.

10th April 2010, 02:32 PM
Thank you very much Alex, Koinonas and Petronius, for the input. Mail seems to be working fine now on both computers and Skype is also working on both. I deleted one old email a/c from the keychain and after that all seemed well.

When I deleted the one email from the keychain the others vanished as well. I had what was probably a personal kernel panic. When I took Mail on-line again a floating window asked for the passwords for the two remaining accounts, which I gave, and checked 'remember in keychain' . Thanks so much. Jenny