Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Deleted e-mails coming back from the trash in Evolution

For the past couple of months I have been dealing with a very annoying issue with my e-mail client application, Evolution. When I delete an e-mail, it disappears from the message list, which leads me to believe that it has been deleted. If I change to another folder or view and return to the folder where I deleted a message, or if I just wait long enough, the deleted message reappears! I then delete the message a second time and from what I can tell, the second delete does work. This was happening in all of my IMAP folders for a specific account.

As you can imagine, e-mail productivity was non-existent. I found myself reading the same e-mail multiple times, getting frustrated and re-deleting messages I thought I had read. In many cases I was actually deleting the messages that I intended to delete, but in some cases, the frustrated reaction was resulting in deleting a message that I did not want to delete or that I had not yet responded to.

So, I started searching for a bug report or some resolution that would keep me sane. Unfortunately, I had no luck and kept running out of time to do much about it. Do not get me wrong, I found quite a few topics regarding delete issues dealing with IMAP accounts but they all seemed to be configuration issues -- Users wanted to delete a message in Evolution and couldn't understand why it was still showing up in the "All Mail" folder on the server. Or they were attempting to expunge their trash folder only to find that the messages still remained on their e-mail server. In my case, the issue was that e-mails required two deletes to actually get them into the trash folder.

I write the post with optimism, as for today, I stumbled across an Ubuntu forums post that identified a problem different then mine, but similar in nature. My search led me to [SOLVED] Evolution Can not delete emails posted by one bigwoof who had the intelligence to fix his own problem and post the resolution. His issue seemed to be unrelated to deleting e-mails so I am not really sure what led him to the choice of topic but what he was seeing felt similar to what I was potentially dealing with. In his case, there were e-mails showing up in the list that were no longer on the server. I am guessing that he couldn't simply delete them because he was getting an error saying the message could not be found on the server. Additionally, I am using Evolution 2.32.2 while he indicates he upgraded to 2.30. But in my case, the issue seemed to be wacky folder display of some kind. In addition, I have Evolution configured to use a remote folder for the Trash folder. So, when I delete a message, I believe Evolution is actually moving the message to the remote folder. I am not sure if it is also marking it as deleted or not and have not really cared to much about how it is implemented because it had worked for so long.

So I used his solution. In the case of Evolution 2.32.2 my IMAP specific folder was located in a different place, so here is what I did:

  1. Shutdown Evolution
  2. Open my Home folder using Nautilus
  3. Enable Show Hidden Files by pressing CTRL+H or selecting View -> Show Hidden Files
  4. Open the folder named .local
  5. Open the folder named share
  6. Open the folder named evolution
  7. Open the folder named mail
  8. Open the folder named imap
  9. Open the folder which uses the user name and host name for my affected IMAP account, loleary@mail.somewhere.com
  10. Right-click on folders.db and select Rename...
  11. Append .old to the existing file name so it becomes folders.db.old
  12. Launch Evolution
  13. Wait a really long time for it to synchronize all of my mail for offline reading

For the command-line users or the ones who like to enter the full folder path into Nautilus' location bar, it is /home//.local/share/evolution/mail/imap/. From a command-line, it would look like:

mv ~/.local/share/evolution/mail/imap/loleary@mail.somewhere.com/folders.db \
~/.local/share/evolution/mail/imap/loleary@mail.somewhere.com/folders.db.old

I will also note that once you are confident that you have not broken Evolution or your e-mail, feel free to delete the .old folder created as it is no longer useful.

Hope that may help someone sort out other Evolution folder issues that may arise. This should probably be logged as a bug but seeing that I do not know what the real cause is or know what I can do to reproduce it, I don't feel I have enough information to say it really is a bug. Additionally, I only did this a few minutes ago and it seems to have fixed my issue but Evolution is still downloading e-mail for offline reading. Which means, once it is done, maybe those old messages I deleted will show back up! I sure hope not!


UPDATE: Well, wouldn't you know it. I spoke too soon. The multiple delete issue has returned. I probably should have waited before posting this but maybe it will still serve a purpose and maybe someone can steer me in the right direction.

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