How to Fix “Import Failed” Mail Error on Mac

Mar 30, 2021 - 31 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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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

31 Comments

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  1. Ken says:

    Did not work for me. Setting up a new iMac with Monterey OS and loads of storage. Mail loads 123,200 emails out of 123,708 and then gives the out of space error. It is not out of space. Tried several times. Put the envelope files in the trash, rebooted, tried again, same error. What’s up?

    • Tom Woodcock says:

      Exactly my experience, what worked for me was go to Internet Accounts and for each Account press – to inactivate. On iCloud selection, you have to deselect Mail.

  2. Maurice says:

    This worked for me:

    My Hard Drive had failed on my iMac(2012) running Catalina and I had it replaced with a SSD. After using Migration Assistant to recover my system from my Time Machine backup I encountered this error when starting Mail. Mail would start importing and then fail with this message when it started importing the outbox. I followed the steps outlined and on the restart, Mail was able to successfully import all my mailboxes. Thanks very much for posting this!!!

  3. Lee says:

    Didn’t work for me, going to try the different answers other people suggested.

  4. Nick says:

    This didn’t work for me. I had to remove two of my three accounts under Internet Accounts settings (one of these two were causing issues during the import process,) then imported my one remaining account to Mail, then re-added the other two accounts once the process finished. All seems good now.

    • Ben says:

      This worked for me! Thank you.
      I unchecked every Mail account in the Internet Accounts section of Settings, then was able to open and import Mail.app. Then re-checked each mail box in the Internet Accounts section and I’m back in business. Thanks, Nick!

    • Ross says:

      Did not work for me either – however, after I unticked “mail” from my icloud account, then re-opened mail, it opened blank (since not linked to anything at that point). I then re-selected mail as part of “icloud” in internet settings, which then kicked off the import of my previous mail account. Not what I fancied doing on a Sunday night, but, got there in the end…. Sort it out Apple!

  5. Bob Tremallo says:

    Worked like a charm. Had more than 38,000 emails from as far back as 2008. Thank you so much.

  6. Phil K says:

    This did not work for me either.

    I also tried what Bill suggested worked for him, which was: ‘I restarted the computer. Dragged the “Envelope Index” files to the trash then quickly launched Mail.’ That did not work for me either.

    Every time I tried it (four or five times) increased the count of messages it was trying to import and also seemed to fail at the same spot + number of messages it increased the count by.

  7. Marco says:

    Wow, i was so frustrated when trying to import my mail on my new SSD. Crazy that the soluation was so ‘simple’

  8. ih says:

    AMAZING THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  9. Olivia says:

    Thank you! It worked perfectly on my new MacBook Air. Question: Must the Envelope Index files remain on my desktop or may I delete them?

    • lee says:

      I usually keep stuff like that for a little while (throw it in Documents or in a folder somewhere labeled as what it is), but if everything is working still a bit down the road I remove them.

      Always good to keep backups of files like that if you’re making changes, in my opinion.

  10. Peggy says:

    MANY thanks – worked for me. This was the first time that I have ever seen that import message – hope to not see it again.

  11. Bill says:

    Did not work. It appears something re-creates the Envelope Index file even with Mail closed. As soon as I remove it, a new one is created within 5 seconds or so.

    • Bill says:

      Update…. Although I tried this several times yesterday, today I thought I would give it one more try. I restarted the computer. Dragged the “Envelope Index” files to the trash then quickly launched Mail. And it is now working. Thanks very much for your article. My Mail is up and running.

  12. Jeff says:

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

  13. 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.

  14. AV says:

    This worked – thank you very much!

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

  19. Phil Straus says:

    It didn’t work.

  20. JC says:

    Wow it worked, thanks!

  21. Jenny says:

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

  22. Dmitriy says:

    Nope, it didn’t help.

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