Mac Mail Not Connecting to Server: A Comprehensive Guide to Troubleshooting

Mac Mail Not Connecting to Server: A Comprehensive Guide to Troubleshooting

Mac Mail not connecting to server? Our guide offers troubleshooting tips and solutions to help you resolve server connectivity issues.

Alex Simmons

Alex Simmons | Jan 1, 2024 | 8 mins read

Apple Mail is the most used email client among Apple users. After all, it’s Apple’s default email client that seamlessly syncs across all Apple devices. Although many users are happy with Apple Mail’s functionality, some have encountered issues where Apple Mail isn’t connecting to the email server and, as a result, not receiving or sending emails.

When Mac Mail is not connecting to the server, it can disrupt your email communication, causing delays in sending and receiving emails, limiting access to your email history and contacts, and potentially leading to data loss if not resolved quickly. 

If you’re experiencing an issue with Mac Mail not connecting to the server, you’ll find the solution in this article. We’ve created this guide to help you understand, diagnose, and solve this issue.

Turn Your Inbox Into a Productivity Powerhouse

Supercharge your email productivity and focus on what really matters.

Try for Free

How Do You Know That Mac Mail Isn’t Connecting to Server?

Wondering why you can’t send an email? Or maybe you haven’t received any emails in a while, and you begin to wonder why. If you’re noticing issues like being unable to send emails or your email history not loading, you may be experiencing issues with server connectivity. 

Users often report issues like error messages stating “Cannot connect to server” or a spinning wheel next to the account name. These symptoms usually indicate an underlying problem with server connection.

When Mac Mail isn’t connecting to the server, it means that it is unable to establish a connection with the server where your email account is hosted. This can have a few implications for the end user, aka, you: 

  1. You’re unable to send or receive emails: One of the most obvious signals that Mac Mail is not connecting to the server is that you’re unable to send or receive emails through your Mail app. 
  2. Your emails get stuck in the outbox: Without a connection to the email server, any emails you attempt to send will remain in the outbox, and you won’t receive any new emails until the connection is re-established. This can lead to delays in communication and missed emails. 
  3. Your email history won’t load: If Mac Mail loses connection to the email server, it’ll have trouble loading your full email history and contact list. It may load the most recent emails but won’t load all of them. 
  4. You may notice data loss: In some more severe cases, if Mac Mail is unable to connect to the server for an extended period of time, there’s a risk of losing data, especially if your emails aren’t properly synchronized and backed up. 

Why Isn’t Mac Mail Connecting to Server?

There may be a few possible reasons why your Mail app isn’t establishing a stable connection with the email server. Here are the most common reasons your Mail app may have trouble connecting. 

Incorrect IMAP/POP Settings

Mac Mail connects to email servers using Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and Post Office Protocol (POP), which ensure a seamless interaction between the Mac Mail client and the email server.

Incorrect IMAP or POP settings are among the most frequent reasons Apple Mail cannot connect to the email server. Incorrect server addresses, port numbers, or security protocols can prevent Apple Mail from connecting with the correct email server.

Security Protocol Mismatch 

Email servers often require specific security protocols, such as SSL/TLS, to encrypt communications between the client and the server. If Mac Mail is configured to use the wrong security protocol or if the server requires encryption but it’s enabled in the settings, the connection will be rejected. 

Software Conflicts

Conflicts between the Mail app and other software installed on your Mac can also lead to syncing problems. This could include conflicts with other email clients, security software, or system utilities. These conflicts may interfere with the proper functioning of the Mail app and prevent it from establishing a stable connection with the email server. 

Firewall Block

Your Mac’s firewall may be preventing the Mail app from connecting to the email server. Firewalls are security measures that monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. If configured too strictly, they can block legitimate connections, including those required for Mac Mail to connect to the email server.

Server Maintenance

Your Mail app might encounter difficulties connecting to the email server due to occasional server maintenance. Email server providers often perform routine maintenance to ensure the stability and security of their servers. 

During these maintenance periods, servers may be temporarily unavailable or experiencing reduced functionality, which can result in connection issues with email clients like Apple Mail. If that’s the case, there’s little you can do except wait for the maintenance to be completed.

Internet Connectivity Issues

A stable internet connection is essential for your Mail app to work correctly and connect to the server. If your device has internet connectivity issues, such as a weak Wi-Fi signal, network congestion, or router problems, these can disrupt the communication between your device and the email server. As a result, emails may not be received or synced on time.

How to Fix Apple Mail Not Connecting to Server

If you’re experiencing connection issues with your Apple Mail, you may be wondering if there’s something you can do. The answer is yes! There are a few solutions you can try to fix this problem. 

Here are the main troubleshooting solutions you can implement to solve the issue of Apple Mail not connecting to the server. 

Restart the Mail App 

If you’re experiencing issues with Apple Mail, such as the “cannot connect to server” message, your first instinct may be to restart the app. It’s a great idea! Restarting the Mail app often resolves minor syncing problems and allows the app to resume normal functionality. 

To refresh your Apple Mail email, click on the “Mailbox” menu at the top of the screen and select “Get All New Mail” or press Command + Shift + N. This action will prompt the app to check for new emails and update your inbox.

You also just close the app and open it again. 

Update Email Account Password

If you’re experiencing connection issues with one of the email accounts connected to your Mac Mail, it may be because you recently changed the password to that email account. If so, you’ll need to update it manually in Apple Mail. This includes updating both the incoming mail server password and the outgoing mail server password if necessary. 

Here’s how you can do that: 

  1. Go to Mail > Settings.
  2. Tap on Accounts and select the email account that isn’t working.
  3. Navigate to Account and enter your new password. 

Then, update the password for the outgoing mail server: 

  1. Go to Settings> Mail and select your account. 
  2. Navigate to Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP) and choose the Advanced tab
  3. Type in your new password. 

After you update the password, your Mail app should begin synchronizing with your email account again, but updating may take a while. 

Remove and Reconnect Your Email Account 

Another way to re-establish the server connection is to remove and reconnect the email account you’re experiencing issues with. This will refresh your email account settings, which can solve the underlying issues that are preventing it from connecting to the email server. 

You can remove your email account in Apple Mail with just a few clicks and add it again. Once you do, check whether you can now send and receive emails as you should. 

Test Server Connection

Apple Mail comes with a built-in diagnostic tool called Connection Doctor, which allows users to check the status of their email server connections. This tool provides real-time information about your connection to the incoming and outgoing servers, helping you pinpoint any issues preventing your inbox from updating, sending and receiving emails, or loading your email history.

If you suspect that your Mail app may be experiencing an issue with the server connection to the email server, you can check it with the Connection Doctor tool. It will verify server settings, check network issues, and troubleshoot server-related problems.

Reset Firewall and Security Settings

In some cases, firewalls or security settings on your Mac may block Apple Mail from accessing the email server. Resetting these settings can help ensure the Mail app has the proper permissions to communicate with the email server and sync new messages.

This means temporarily disabling the firewall or security software, adjusting settings to allow access to Apple Mail, and then re-enabling or adjusting settings as needed to maintain security. Ensuring that ports 143 (IMAP) or 110 (POP) are open in your firewall settings can often help you solve any issues with Apple Mail not updating the inbox.

Consider an Alternative to Apple Mail

If you’re using Apple Mail to manage multiple email accounts and find that the app often has issues connecting to the email server, you may want to start looking for alternatives. Luckily, there are many email clients you can use to manage multiple email accounts as you do with Apple Mail. One of them is Canary Mail.  

Canary Mail is not only one of the best email apps to manage multiple email profiles, but it’s also considered the best app for multiple Gmail accounts. It allows you to easily sync all your email accounts from various platforms, like Gmail, iCloud, Outlook, Yahoo, ProtonMail, and more – right into one place.

mac mail not connecting to server

Mac Mail Won’t Connect to Server, the Bottom Line

Being unable to connect to the email server can be frustrating, but understanding the common causes and solutions can help you resolve this issue quickly. You can get Apple Mail back up and running with the right troubleshooting steps. 

Although it’s possible to solve the issues that are preventing Mac Mail from connecting to the server in a few simple steps, sometimes, you may feel tired and frustrated from experiencing frequent issues with this email client. If that’s your case, you may want to move away from Apple Mail altogether and look for an alternative email client, such as Canary Mail.  

Mac Mail Unable to Connect to Server, the FAQs

❓ Why is Apple Mail not connecting to server?

Apple Mail may not connect to the server for various reasons, such as incorrect IMAP/POP settings, server maintenance, network issues, or outdated software.

❓ How do I fix Mac Mail connection?

Start by checking your internet connection and ensure your device is connected to a stable network. Next, verify that your email account settings in Mac Mail are correct, including server addresses, port numbers, and security protocols. If you recently changed your email account password, update it in Mac Mail settings. 

You can also check for any software updates for your device and the Mail app. If the issues continue, contact Apple Mail support. 

❓ Why is my SMTP not working on Mac Mail?

Your SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) may not be working on Mac Mail due to incorrect SMTP server settings, authentication issues, or network problems. To re-establish the connection, verify that the SMTP settings in Mac Mail match those provided by your email service provider. 

Also, check your network connection and firewall settings to ensure that nothing is preventing a successful connection. 

Alex Simmons
Alex Simmons

I have always been fascinated by the world of SaaS and technology. From a young age, I found myself drawn to the endless possibilities that email technology offers. The ability to connect with people across the globe and streamline communication processes is something that truly excites me. As a passionate individual, I am constantly seeking new ways to leverage SaaS and email technology to enhance productivity and drive innovation.

All of your Emails, in One Place

Switching between inboxes is a waste of time. Streamline your communication with our unified inbox.

Try our Unified Inbox
All of your Emails, in One Place