How to Fix “Import Failed” Mail Error on Mac

Mar 30, 2021 - 12 Comments

Mail Import Failed error on Mac

Rarely, Mac users encounter an “Import Failed” error message when trying to open the Mail app in Mac OS, with a brief Message Import splash screen. The import failure prevents the Mail app from opening any further, and therefore renders the Mail app and inboxes unusable. This can happen on any version of Mail for Mac, sometimes at random, or sometimes after updating system software, if user accounts have been migrated, or in many other situations, including if the Mac hard drive is too full without available disk space.

The full error is usually encountered immediately upon launch of Mail app on the Mac, stating “The import failed – An error occurred during import. Make sure you have available space in your home folder and try again.” However, the problem is often unrelated to disk space, and can often be resolved by performing some other steps.


It’s a good idea to backup the Mac before beginning this process.

Fix “Import Failed – Error Occurred During Import” in Mail for Mac

First, you’ll want to make sure your Mac has plenty of hard disk space available, but as stated earlier this error often shows up unrelated to the amount of storage available despite what the error message says. Assuming you have sufficient disk space, proceed with the following:

  1. Quit out of Mail app if it’s still open
  2. Open the Finder in MacOS, then pull down the “Go” menu and choose “Go To Folder”
  3. Enter the following path, then click Go
  4. ~/Library/Mail/

  5. Locate the latest V# folder (V8, V7, V6, etc), select it, then choose “Get Info” from the File menu
  6. Click the Lock icon and authenticate, then make sure your Name (Me) has “Read & Write” privileges, and then click on the Gear icon and choose “Apply to enclosed items” and confirm
  7. Fix Mail permissions on Mac

  8. Open the latest V# folder (V8, V5, V6, V7, etc) and then do either of the following, depending on the situation:
    • If the “MailData” folder exists, open that and then move any files that start with “Envelope Index” to the Desktop
    • If the “MailData” item is an alias, move the alias out of the V# folder and onto the desktop

    Move the Mail data alias outside of the Mail folder

  9. Open the Mail app again and go through the Import process, it should work fine now
  10. Mail import working successfully on Mac

Once you’re in the Mail app, you might want to rebuild the mail inboxes if there are any issues with searching, finding email messages, or performance.

You can find a ton of additional Mail app tips and tricks here if you’re interested.

Did this resolve the “Import Failed – Error Occurred During Import” error in Mail for Mac for you? Did you find another solution that worked? Let us know in the comments.

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Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

12 Comments

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  1. Jeff says:

    Worked for me but can I delete the “envelop files from my desktop ? Or do they need to be stored elsewhere ?

  2. Dan says:

    Sadly this didn’t work for me either – followed the steps, but on re-launching mail, I get the same “The import failed”. Still looking for a solution.

  3. AV says:

    This worked – thank you very much!

  4. Barbara says:

    It did not work for me. Starts to import first and then the same error message occurs as in the beginning. Tried both: simply moving the docs to the desktop and deleting them. Neither solves the problem. Any ideas?

  5. WOW! This worked. Thank you so very much for posting this and if any of my friends have an issue I will certainly share this. Thank you very very much.

  6. Brian says:

    Worked great for me. I just deleted the files they ask you to move to the desktop and it seemed to work well.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for this article. Your solution appears to be working.
    Can I delete all the “Envelope-index” files that were moved to the desktop?

  8. Phil Straus says:

    It didn’t work.

  9. JC says:

    Wow it worked, thanks!

  10. Jenny says:

    Worked thank you but what do I do with the envelope index files moved to desktop?

  11. Dmitriy says:

    Nope, it didn’t help.

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