For months now there has been an email in my “spam” mailbox that I can’t delete. I try deleting it, but I fail. Worse, if I select a lot of messages and then try to delete them all, the entire operation fails because of this one zombie mail. So cleaning out my spam mailbox is a lot tougher than just ‘scan the borderline cases, select all, delete’.

Finally got sick of that today. I moved ~/Library/Mail/Envelope Index away; when I relaunched Mail it rebuilt the file (in about five minutes, for 50,000+ emails) and the zombie was gone. The index itself is in a binary format so I can’t tell what strange structure was confusing Mail (but I do see the sender name of the offending spam in three different places in the 18 meg index file).

But that’s a tiny niggle—at some point in the last couple of weeks something in Apple Mail went wrong in a much more significant way. When I open the preferences screen, I see only the “Rules” panel. I can’t access any other preferences:

The Preferences window for my version of Mail

Mail appears to work correctly for newly-created users on this machine, so this seems to be another case in which Mail is being confused by corrupt settings files somewhere. I would have just trashed the settings gone through setup again as soon as I noticed the problem, but of course I can’t even look through Mail’s current settings to find my current server names…I’ll have to find that information from the various setup instructions for each of my different accounts. (I have Mail checking five different servers, although I only really use two primary accounts.)

I really wish there were a decent third-party mail client for MacOS X—I’d happily fork over $100 for something comparable to my current Mail/SpamSieve/Act-On setup. Even Apple’s offerings stagnate without real competition.