Where should an email database be located?

I just indexed some of my mailboxes for the first time. I’m a bit concerned that DEVONthink put the database in the folder with my mailboxes.

The reason for my concern is that a couple days ago, without forewarning, my email account got switched from POP to IMAP. I don’t understand IMAP very well at all, yet, but I know it can remove files and folders from my mail directory.

Is my email database at risk?


Do you mean you imported email into DEVONthink, or did you actually index (File > Index) a one of the mail account folders that are located in ~/Library/Mail/V2?

Seems like you have two mysteries: DEVONthink putting a database in a file system folder without prompting you, and something changing the account type for an email account from POP to IMAP.

For the first mystery, you should be able to close any database, move it somewhere else on your disk, and open it again in DEVONthink (File > Open Database …). So, you can move it from your mail folder to Documents, or someplace else.

For the second mystery, seems like a question for Apple’s support forums – changing an account from POP to IMAP is not something that happens spontaneously.

Thanks, Korm. The latter.

Good. I thought possibly that was the default location for mail databases.

I had a POP account. I had difficulty getting access to my mail. I called tech support. [AT&T] The guy created a new account for me. I didn’t realize at the time it was IMAP. I’m not sure he did either. Subsequently it seems AT&T automatically assigns an IMAP account when the account is created from within Apple Mail.

I’ve lost a lot of emails, and a lot of time trying to figure out how I can get them back, and how IMAP works. It’s much more complicated than POP. I am not quite as bewildered as I was, but I’m bewildered.

Thanks again,

Indexing a .mbox file isn’t a great idea, IMO. I’d suggest not doing that and importing messages from Mail.

Not exactly. What Apple Mail does isn’t affecting what AT&T does.

Thanks, Korm. Curious. Why? I have never imported files of any time. I always index. But as I say, first time with mail files.

Occurs to me, though, that importing may solve one of the problems I have as a result of being IMAP-ed. I have a bunch of messages in the Inbox and Sent folders of the POP account that I can’t get into the IMAP account. I tried importing from within Mail. Strangely, Mail said it couldn’t find any Apple Mail files in the folders I navigated it to, even though I have never used any other mail client since moving to a Mac. Copying the files in finder didn’t work, either. Maybe they’ll import into DEVONthink? They’re in Apple Mail folders.

All I know is that I am unable to get a POP account. When I create a new account, I am automatically assigned an IMAP account. Changing server addresses has no effect. And I gather from Googling that this has happened to other Mac/Mail users.

The .mbox files are managed by your Mail app. They are old tech, poorly designed, fragile, insecure, and easily mangled. Why take a risk (even a small risk) that something goes awry in DEVONthink that changes a message or deletes your mail?

If you want to store emails in DEVONthink then import them using DEVONthink’s mail plugin or (if you’re on Pro Office) the inbuilt email import features.

Thanks again. Wasn’t aware that they are so fragile. And I certainly want to want to import the old files that I can’t get Mail either to import or recognize when copied over.

Something else about which I’m unclear: You speak of .mbox files. My POP account folders at least have “mbox” in the name. But all files in both the POP and IMAP folders have an extent of “exml.” I take it these are in fact “mbox” files?

Last, do you have any clue why Mail is unable to find any Mail files when I have never used any other email client on a Mac?

It’s probably .emlx, not “exml”. The .emlx files are the actual messages. The parent folder has an .mbox extension.

Click an .emlx document, press space to invoke Quick Look, and you’ll see a preview - or open one in Mail to see the contents.