Mail.app

Sync only recent messages in Mail.app on OS X

So you, like myself, want to have mail.app not sync all of your mail from the beginning of eternity in your Gmail ‘controlled’ email account?

Well, Mail.app on OS X has no concept of ‘sync last X days’ or ‘sync last X messages’…but guess who does?
Gmail does.

Image showing the radio button and drop down to select imap folder limits for gmail.

Image showing the radio button and drop down to select imap folder limits for gmail.

  1. Go to Gmail’s settings for the account in question.
  2. Click the ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’ tab.
  3. Scroll down and click the radio button that says ‘Limit imap folders to contain no more than this many messages’
  4. Choose the number of messages you want to sync from the drop down.

Server-side search will still return mail messages that have not been synced, and if for some reason that’s not good enough for you – you can always reach into the webmail interface.

This is more or less a patch to the real problem – Mail.app not having the ability to selectively sync X days or last messages, which many other clients natively support (Outlook, Android mail, and I believe Windows Phone 8 Mail).