How to speed up Mail in OS X Lion and Mountain Lion

How to speed up Mac Mail in OS X Lion and Mountain Lion

If you use Apple's Mail app for OS X and have multiple accounts set up, you may have noticed some lagging issues, particularly if you're running Lion or Mountain Lion. I have been experiencing severe issues where takes several seconds to catch up with what I am typing or performs poorly when loading messages which results in excruciatingly long wait times. One of my colleagues shared an interesting piece with me by Brett Terpstra that fixed it for me in just a few steps:

There was a tip on Hawk Wings long ago which showed how to speed up Apple’s by vacuuming the SQLite3 index. I hadn’t tried it since Snow Leopard, but I was having some serious issues with the time it took to open a Mail folder on my Air, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

The problem seems to lie with the database of Mail, which is what houses all your messages and other information about them. With a simple terminal command, you can vacuum out the envelope index which should speed up the Mail database significantly.

I tried it on both my iMac and my MacBook Air and the results were pretty good. I can now tab through messages much more quickly, mass delete things without hiccups, and type emails without Mail lagging behind me.

Hit the link below to grab the command and try it for yourself. There's also instructions on how to set up an automatic script so you don't have to run it each and every time mail slows down. Let me know how it works for you!

Source: Brett Terpstra

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to speed up Mail in OS X Lion and Mountain Lion


What are your opinions on iCloud Mail? Do you think it's reliable like gmail? (I use all my mail with my Mac's

The article isn't about iCloud or Gmail at all. This article is about the Apple Mail client application software. You can use it with gmail, iCloud mail, MS-Exchange, or thousands of other mail services.

As for me, I use both iCloud and Gmail; iCloud for business stuff (banking, etc), and gmail as my "in the wild" email address.

Both have been quite reliable for me, although occasionally gmail's SMTP service seems to fail during authentication ... resulting in mail waiting around my outbox.

I know it was off topic, but since it was about mail I decided to slip in my question.

Thanks for the feedback.

I've had a few outage problems with iCloud mail, but typically nothing that lasts for more than a few minutes. I feel a bit more comfortable with iCloud, because I don't suspect Apple is plumbing the contents of my mail for keywords to use to sell advertising.

Thank You! I appreciate a reply from an editor, I'm new to iMore.

(I hope you don't take that offensively Mr. Houser, I appreciate your response too. I'm always nervous I'll insult someone)

Can someone simplify the process in a step1, step 2 method?
It's a really nice option, and should be available to everyone

I am looking for the link to click.. Because I want to clear ~/Library/Caches/ but I can't find it in my finder.. Sorry, bit stupid maybe :(

Wow! It works great! My mail client no longer has a lag in it! How'd you do that?!? Thanks so much; I am bookmarking this site!

No it does work. I think you're misunderstanding what this is. It cleans out the cache and libraries that make Mail slow. I had to do it twice before it got everything. After that every few weeks. Unfortunately, every time you get mail, it creates more crap files that cause it to slow down. You shouldn't need to be doing it more than once a month though. If that.

Also make sure you followed steps properly. Missing something can make a big difference.

Allyson, I did not see the link for "How to speed up Mail in OS X Lion and Mountain Lion". Forgive me if it's there....I couldn't find it.

Thanks, Todd