How to Fix Mail Not Showing Attachments in Mac OS Sierra

Dec 17, 2016 - 19 Comments

Mail app icon

Some Mac users have discovered that Mail app has stopped showing attachments after updating to Mac OS Sierra, despite not having manually removed the attachments themselves. Additionally, existing emails with attachments may appear as if the email attachments disappeared entirely.

While having disappearing Mail attachments can be alarming, you can usually resolve this issue with a two-step process.

While this is aimed at resolving disappeared attachments on MacOS Sierra Mail app, it will likely work with other versions of Mac OS that have disappearing or vanished email attachments as well.

How to Fix Disappearing Mail Attachments on Mac OS

This two step process should work to reveal any missing email attachments in Mac Mail app again. If you are not sure of what you are doing, you should backup your Mac before beginning this process. Rebuilding an email inbox should not be problematic, but it’s better to be safe with a fresh backup anyway.

  1. Open the Mail app on Mac OS if you haven’t done so already
  2. Pull down the “Mailbox” menu and choose “Rebuild” from the option on the bottom, let the email mailbox(es) rebuild, this can take a while
  3. Rebuild Mailbox on Mac Mail

  4. Next, go to the “Mail” menu and choose “Preferences
  5. Select “Accounts” and then click on the email account where mail attachments seemingly disappeared from
  6. Under the ‘Account Information’ tab pulldown the menu next to “Download Attachments” and choose “ALL”
  7. Mail download attachments all

  8. Close out of Preferences and open an email with an attachment, it should be visible again

Attachments should be visible as usual again, unless you either have them disabled or they are an incompatible file format. Typically if you are getting incompatible attachments, they are from a windows sender and this tip for opening Winmail.dat files on a Mac can be helpful. It’s also worth noting that very large attachments in Mail are sent through Mail Drop nowadays often, assuming they are sent from another Apple user with iCloud, and thus the attachment will be a download link instead of a true attachment.

Separately, you should also update to the latest version of Mac OS Sierra that is available, as of writing that is 10.12.2. Backup the Mac and then go to the App Store Updates section to find whatever MacOS update is available for the computer. If you are specifically avoiding MacOS Sierra due to problems or for some other reason, obviously you wouldn’t want to install anything beyond incremental software updates or security fixes for your specific version of Mac OS or Mac OS X instead.

Did this work to reveal missing email attachments on your Mac? Do you have another trick or troubleshooting step that resolved the issue for you? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Troubleshooting

19 Comments

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  1. Gavin says:

    I’ve had this problem ever since I upgraded to Sierra.

    I have 50,000 emails many with large attachments that I have to keep on our mail server, so rebuilding the mailbox took a few days, but unfortunately it didn’t solve the problem.

    If I go to the Exchange website and view my email in there, every attachment is on there, as it also is when accessing the mail app on iOS, so it appears to be just a Sierra issue.

  2. cgl says:

    What about regular non Icloud IMAP accounts ?

    Only way I could do it is was set my IMAP back to POP.

    And yes, I could view attachments via webmail……

    Come on, Sierra needs to address this.

  3. Avron says:

    I had this problem. It was fixed with Sierra 10.12.2 update.

  4. Isidore says:

    Well I’ve updated to 10.12.2 and I still have this problem. I will try this solution in the morning as my mac is two floors away and it’s the middle of tge night- this issue has been driving me nuts. Worst problem since Apple broke local sync in iTunes for ios a few years ago.

  5. Wim F. Abbenhuis says:

    I have this problem, but in a different way:
    When sending an email with an attachment, it appears in my Sent-box, with the attachment.
    Now, when I move this message to another mailbox “on my Mac”, the attachment disappears permanently and cannot be retrieved.

    But: when I move a received email with an attachment from “Inbox” to another mailbox “on my Mac”, the attachment remains visible.

    I have been on the phone with Apple Support; it was presented to a senior, who stated that this complaint has been heard before and he suspected it would be resolved in an update.
    Unfortunately, this appears not to be the update 10.12.2; the problem persists.

    Any ideas?

  6. Craig says:

    I too have the problem with sent email attachments disappearing if the mail is moved to another folder for archiving. We have a number of machines which we updated to Sierra and all exhibited the same problem immediately after the change. Luckily a few machines weren’t “updated” from Yosemite and these are used to move our sent emails. What a pain for the last few months.

    Also noticed if you move a received email from one folder to another, then onto a third fairly quickly most often the attachment will disappear.

  7. Isidore says:

    No, this has not fixed my problem. Messages have attachments but they are not visible in the viewer window. They do seem to be visible in the actual message itself. I have no imap or icloud mail accounts, only pop accounts. When I go into the relevant preferences page I do not see the option concerning downloading attachments. Running 10.12.2 with mail version 10.2

  8. cgl says:

    Ok Isidore,

    I had a friend with the same problem. Fixed it by downloading Sierra again from the recovery menu which keeps your files & what not. But do backup !!

    cgl

  9. BrooklynBob says:

    Mail app is the absolute worst email client: I have no qualms with the UI, but basic functionality such as filtering, rules, “smart mailboxes”, etc. are all poorly implemented and buggy. The fact that this new issue manifested itself with OS X Sierra (sic) only leads me to conclude that Apple does not fully test or quality check in their development cycles. As for my grudge with Mail, I have reviewed other email clients: Outlook for mac is nowhere near as robust as it should be and does not integrate with OS X contacts; Thunderbird is very barebones, and in some ways, as poorly implemented as Mail; Airmail looks promising, but is no trial version for testing. I’m at a loss — genuine suggestions are welcome.

    • SeattleDave says:

      I totally agree. this is symptomatic of very poor quality control and lack of thorough testing. I also suspect “accretive” coding, which is where software engineers try to solve problems by adding patch code until the code becomes a mess of spaghetti. Only solution may be to fire the whole department (after writing glowing recommendations so they will be hired at Microsoft) and starting over.

      I also agree that there ain’t much better out there. sad.

  10. Isidore says:

    @CGL: thanks! will give it a try!

  11. wingster says:

    I have a problem with encrypted mails: attachments in encrypted mails i received are shown but with 0 kb file size. I can not open or download them.

    Accessing the mails with Outlook shows that everything is o.k., the attachments are there with the correct size and I can open and download them.

    Annoying… Anybody else?

  12. Melanie F. says:

    This solution worked as stated. The attachments were PDF and Word compatible documents and they seemingly disappeared. I thought “I” was going crazy…my boss thought I’d lost it…Thank you!!!

  13. Fernando says:

    It worked to me by upgrading to Sierra 10.12.2 and then rebuilding the mailbox. Thank you!

  14. NANCY BECKHORN says:

    This worked great!! Thanks so much! 👍

  15. John Beshears says:

    I am trying to send a 530 kb attachment but when I hit send I get a message telling me that the attachment is still loading, but never does. Under the attachment in small, blue type is the number 515 kb. This is, of course, is a tiny bit of information, so it should go through in a blink.

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