4 Mystery Emails

oo7ml used Ask the Experts™

As per my screenshot (attached), one of my Gmail accounts keeps show as 4 unread messages for about 5 seconds, and then it changes back to 0... or if I actually have 2 unread messages, it will show as 6, etc... then back to the 2 (the real unread number).

- it doesn't happen any of my other Gmail accounts
- it only happens on my iPhone and not on Mac Mail or Gmail in web view
- i've deleted the Mail account and re-added it... but the problem still persists
- i went into the account on my iPhone and selected all emails... marked them all as unread... then selected all again and marked them as read... but the problem still persists

Any help at all would be much appreciated.

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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

Sounds like there's some (poorly written, since you can see the effect) rogue software in the iphone which reads your email, tampers with it, then resets the "read" attribute so that you don't suspect.
I doubt sincerely there is any "rogue" software.

I've seen a similar issue on my iPhone Mail and MacMail on OSX with Gmail accounts from time to time .. with Flagged emails and with Draft emails too.

The bad news is that I never found a clear solution .. it comes and goes from time to time but I've found that if I EMPTY the Inbox and file/archive all my emails then the problem is a lot less common.

The reason (from what I can see) is that GMAIL uses a "LABEL" system instead of a clear FOLDER system for organising emails in their IMAP service.  The INBOX, SENT, DRAFT, TRASH are all "Labels" along with other things like "Promotions", 'Social".  In effect Google do not use the standard IMAP protocol or have a bit of a fudge to convert to this LABEL system.  
As far as I know this means that Google store ALL the emails in one location and use these LABELS to organise the emails and sometimes the LABELS are mis-reporting the unread count.  
GMail also organises emails into 'conversations' and there may be a few emails grouped into conversations which are not properly marked as "Read" causing that count of unread email error.

I suggest logging into GMAIL website .. setup a LABEL for "Read Mail" (or whatever you want to call it)  and mark everything in the Inbox with that label of "Read Mail" and then in the GMail Settings go to the Labels tab and HIDE that specific Label from the IMAP .. that should instantly hide them from your Mail account and it SHOULD eliminate the 4 UNREAD emails .. if that works .. you can republish the "Read Mail" label and they will re-appear.  You may be able to pinpoint the specific emails which are mis-reporting as unread.


Thanks Eoin... much appreciated.

I hate having to use such a laborious approach / hack to get around it instead of resolving it.

I'll try that and a few other things and will report back.
You might also turn CONVERSATION VIEW to OFF on GMail and see are there some unread emails hiding in there and / or empty the TRASH .. another possible source of conflicting read email counts .. or ensure all the emails in the TRASH are marked as READ

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