Feb 142012

There is lots to be said about the intricacies of IMAP delete flags vs. actual expunging of deleted messages and the confusion caused when something is merely flagged for deletion and the user expected it to be really gone. This post is not about that. Everyone agrees that once a message is expunged, it definitely should be gone. But sometimes expunged messages still display in Thunderbird!

I often observe this:

  1. Delete message on the way to work using K-9 on my phone.
  2. Arrive at work and message is gone from my Inbox in Mail.app
  3. Come home, download new mail in Thunderbird and see an Inbox full of undead messages.

No amount of re-expunging and re-fetching mail helps. Grepping through the server-side Maildir shows the messages really are gone from the folders in which Thunderbird is still showing them.

It turns out the reason they are still displaying in Thunderbird is mundane client-side index corruption. To clean things up:

  1. Right-click on mailbox
  2. Choose Properties...
  3. Click Repair Folder
  4. Rejoice at tidy mailbox

  12 Responses to “Thunderbird still displays expunged IMAP messages”

  1. THANK YOU! I was going crazy trying to change IMAP settings, caching, offline, expunge, etc… but nothing changed those stupid messages staying in the Inbox. Apparently I had a corrupted folder; this fixed it! For the record, I searched for “thunderbird still has deleted messages in imap folder”, this result should have been higher.

    Also, your dog looks like he has explosive diarrhea.

  2. THANK YOU! seconded.
    As with Thunderborked I’ve been going nuts trying to solve this one. Settings, expunge, blah, blah. Nothing worked. Fixed with three mouse clicks.

    The person behind the dog looks suitably worried. 🙂

  3. Another thank-you – I too was experiencing this with K9 on my mobile and Thunderbird on the desktop…

  4. To add to this, I was getting sick of rebuilding my index file repeatedly. Disabling folder synchronization for the account seems to keep things in sync much better and I don’t have to rebuild the index. Tools > Account Settings > Synchronization and Settings > deselect “Keep messages for this account on this computer”.

  5. Yes indeed thanks also! For me it was mutt that I had used to expunge and t-bird was frustrating me.

  6. This describes exactly my problem (K-9 and all), but the fix did not work for me. I’m running OS X 10.8.4 and Thunderbird 17.0.7

    Any other ideas?

  7. Thanks a lot for this hint!

  8. I have this issue too. Is there a mozilla bug report associated with this behavior?

  9. Thank you very much – that’s exactly what I was looking for.

  10. Following up on my last comment: the Bugzilla bug that seems to be most relevant to this problem occurring in the first place is: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=693204. It also references some other bugs about faulty IMAP CONDSTORE support, so disabling CONDSTORE via the config editor is also a good idea. With the workarounds discussed in the bug, Repair Folder is almost always unnecessary (which is good, because repair folder resets custom folder view settings as well).


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