On Gmail, Mavericks, and Technology (Oh My!)

I love technology.

Except when I don’t.

And the past couple of weeks, I can’t say I felt the love. At all.

Since this post is about the closest thing to a rant I’ve ever done, and since I don’t like negativity, I’ll shorten the story. Yes, I know this post is long, but trust me when I tell you this IS the shortened version. After thirteen days of dealing with Apple Care, I have a new hard drive. The issue with my beloved iMac was indeed the hard drive, as I had insisted all along. Not the OS. Not my profile. Not a corrupted plist file. Not any third-party app. Not the settings in my user log in profile. Not the memory upgrade. Not aliens or gremlins. Fortunately, the drive finally failed in a BIG way with senior tech support on the line. Unfortunately, I’m also now on Mavericks, which in my personal opinion, might have been released too soon. It won’t surprise me to see that Mavericks becomes to Apple what Vista became to PC users. Then, maybe that’s just my experience and opinion.

Sure, I could wipe the iMac and reinstall Mountain Lion. After all, I’ve spent the past two weeks installing and reinstalling Mavericks – three times to be exact. But I’m tired. And frustrated. And I have a book to write and I’m under contract to do so. In short, the iMac is on Mavericks and there it’ll stay, I suppose. Lesson learned? That whatever skills I had before leaving the tech world still serve me well. I’m also no longer afraid to pop the screen off my iMac in the future as I probably won’t drop it like the repairman did. Thankfully, it’s okay. And the Genius Bar? I had to wipe and reinstall the OS after I got it back from my fourth visit to the Apple store.

The good news? The iMac is back in business as of today. In fact, I’m writing this post on it.

All is still not well in Techland, though. I’ve now spent the past day getting Mail to work again. It’s not pretty, since I’m also a Gmail user. I’m starting to think that I either need a new mail client or I need a true IMAP email. I’ll have to figure out what direction to take over the holidays, but for now, it’ll all just have to limp along. For anyone out there wondering HOW I got Gmail to work with mail on Maverick, it’s not pretty. The key, at least for me, was to go into each Gmail account via web interface, and reset a few things under Settings, then Labels. It’s now important to have All Mail checked. I won’t rehash all of the settings because there are already about five dozen other blogs, including a few MacWorld articles on said settings. Just know that clicking All Mail has implications. It will take an eternity for Mail to load, if it loads at all. But here’s what I did to speed that along after spending a day of launching, quitting, and force quitting an unresponsive Mail app:

1) Delete most of your mail via Gmail’s web interface Yep. Painful, right? Now, before you go screaming for the hills, I’m going to bet that you don’t really NEED all your email. In fact, I bet you have a lot of junk mail. Do you REALLY need every notification from every social media site? Do you need all those daily emails for your favorite (and not so favorite) retailers from 2008-present? How about newsletters you no longer read? Daily jokes sent from that well-meaning friend? Now, I know you’re saying you have rules set up for that, but it makes Mail spew all over itself, so this was less painful in the end, at least for me.

2) Unsubscribe to junk. All that stuff above? Yeah. Just unsubscribe to places you know you haven’t bought stuff from in a while. Okay, if they have a weekly subscription instead and it’s that important, go ahead.

3) Build some Gmail rules. For myself and a few others, rules in Mavericks has been inconsistent (Do a Google search. You’ll see). My solution was to do what I could on the Gmail side of things because as of this post, Mail rules fail often. But ditching social media notifications and dumping quite a few newsletters and sales promos seems to have quieted down my inbox a little. Using Gmail’s mail forwarding has helped, too. While it’s not what I wanted to do with my mail, setting it so that certain emails from various people and sites are redirected to another email acct help me focus on my main acct’s inbox.

4) Quit ALL other applications. Quit all unnecessary services in Activity Monitor. Mostly, these are applications. Trust me, for many of us, Mail sucks up every bit of ram your Mac has while it’s trying to rebuild its database or whatever it is it does when you fire it up after a Mavericks install.

5) Start Mail in Safe Mode (hold down the Option key while starting up Mail).

6) Walk away. Go to work, have dinner with friends, go to sleep. Read a book. Eventually, it will come back up. All accts will be offline. That’s okay. Bring them back online one by one. Don’t panic when you see that although Mail tells you there are messages in an inbox, the view window is empty. Walk away again. Go grab something to drink. Take the dogs for a short walk. It’ll populate and your mail will be there.

7) Rebuild ALL of your rules. In my case, the only thing that allows my Apple Mail rules to work at all is rebuilding them. Even then, it’s spotty.

Sure, I could call Apple back and ask how to fix this. But I’m losing faith. I’ve talked to ten advisors and not one has a fix (except to keep rebuilding my entire Mac profile from square one, or formatting and reinstalling the OS… again). It’s also important to mention that not everyone has shared my recent tech fail experience with Mavericks. Lucky them. Frankly, my problems were compounded when Apple insisted that an upgrade to Mavericks would fix the plist issue they swore I was having. Add a failing drive and quite a few tech support fiascos to the mix along with an OS that, according to my Google searches, has plenty of known issues, and well, you get a technology nightmare.

I’ve spent enough time fixing things for now. Mail is clunky, but operational until I decide which is more important to me: Gmail or Apple’s Mail client. At first, I was set to ditch Apple Mail, except that I’d miss MailTags and MailActOn from Indev software. I already miss Dockstar, another plugin that I found helpful. I also have grown to love Spamsieve for filtering out the junk that no other mail client seems capable of doing. On the other hand, maybe there’s another mail client out there that can take Apple Mail’s place. I just don’t have the energy or the bandwidth to look into it at the moment. While I CAN read emails on Mavericks, I find myself reaching for the MacBook Pro & ML’s Mail, or the mail on my iPad instead.

Oh, and I’d like to give Carbon Copy Cloner a MAJOR shout-out. If you have a Mac and don’t own a copy, go. Do it. Now. It totally saved my bacon once the Genius bar rendered my Time Machine backups useless until I reinstalled Mavericks on my own. Fortunately, as a former corporate-level support person, I knew first hand the importance of not only a backup, but a disaster recovery plan. Sidenote: To keep TM permissions intact, it is paramount that the first user account installed when setting up the Mac is also the first account put back when rebuilding it. It has to do with user ID’s. But I digress.

For all those Microsoft PC fans screaming about getting a PC instead, sorry, guys. Remember me telling you that I’m a geek? I’m a certified MS professional with formerly 20+ years in the PC tech support biz. I chose to work on a Mac. If you love your PC, and you never have, nor have ever had an issue, I couldn’t be happier for you. This post isn’t team PC vs Mac. One OS does NOT fit all and there’s no right or wrong side to stand on. If you comment, no haters on either side, please. The world is already too full of haters. It’s too full of my side is right and yours is wrong. It’s so unproductive, don’t you agree? Okay, off my soapbox.

If I’d just not been so chicken to pop open the iMac in the first place, I’m pretty sure that the longest downtime I would have spent was running to Best Buy for a new drive, and I’d still be on ML. It’s easy to find fault in others, but I also find fault in myself. Sure, the Mac was under warranty. And although I knew what the issue was, I was insistent on getting the use from that warranty.  Not the wisest use of gray matter on my part. After the fiasco at the Apple store, I considered just buying a new drive and doing the work myself. In hindsight, I wish I had done just that. Confidence, people. Have confidence in what your gut tells you. If anything, that lesson alone is a pretty good – and positive – take away.

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2 thoughts on “On Gmail, Mavericks, and Technology (Oh My!)

  1. Is the lesson here, render unto Google what is Google, and unto Apple what is Apple? 😀

    Seriously, I HATE jumping through these kinds of tech hoops. Hard drive crapped on my iMac too (almost 2 years ago now). At the time, Apple denied it was their faulty drive (on a < 2 year old machine mind you) and refused to pay for a replacement (even though it was a widely reported issue with my model … but apparently not widely reported enough). Anywho, replaced it myself because I didn't want to pay the "Genius Tax". 6 months later I got an e-mail saying, "Our bad! The drives WERE faulty." -_-

    I'm still on Lion and don't plan to switch to Mavericks after your testimony. 😉

    • With technology, it’s always something. From our coffee makers to our computers, and from the brains in our cars to our toasters, it’s always something. LOL!

      I’m keeping the laptop on Mountain Lion and not upgrading it – for now. Seems there are still a few kinks they need to work out. It’s probably a darn good OS, but maybe they rushed it to market before it was truly ready.

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