Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Why Do I Lose Email Messages When I Import Mailboxes from Thunderbird or Postbox to Apple Mail?"

Apple Mail uses a more restrictive standard than Thunderbird or Postbox do when looking for the start of a new message, so it simply misses many or most of them. On one attempted mailbox import, I saw the message count drop about 95%! The scary part is, if I hadn't checked the count in Postbox against the count in Mail, I might not even have realized I'd lost anything.

Eudora Mailbox Cleaner, a commonly recommended solution for importing from Thunderbird to Mail, did exactly the same thing, for the exact same message count. (I ran it on Snow Leopard Server in a virtual machine.)

So, how do you import without loss? I'm going to make this very simple for you. Use Weird Kid Software's Emailchemy, a brilliant app for converting from one email format to another. In the Preferences, on the "Standard mbox" tab, select "Relaxed" for "Compliance to mbox standard when reading." I also suggest you choose "UNIX and Mac OS X: LF" for "Output Newline Characters."

Then just choose to convert your mailboxes from "Thunderbird" to "Apple Mail 1.0." On the same mailbox I mentioned above, with almost 9,000 messages, Emailchemy recognized all but three, and Apple Mail showed that same number after import. Good enough!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Why Is BBEdit Corrupting My Thunderbird or Postbox Mailboxes?"

Instructions for repairing your mailboxes commonly tell you to edit the files in a text editor, and BBEdit is usually recommended for the Mac. Unfortunately, for Thunderbird or Postbox mailboxes, this is about the worst advice you can get. More often than not, merely editing and saving the file in BBEdit will seriously corrupt the mailbox.

Why is that? The problem lies in how both the text editor and the email apps work, and in how those ways interact. Thunderbird and Postbox store received email messages with Unix line endings -- "LF" or "line feed" -- as they should. But when you compose a message, those apps create and store it with Windows line endings -- "CRLF" or "carriage return, line feed." So, unless you keep your sent and received messages in separate mailboxes, you get mixed line endings in the same file. (Postbox was built on Thunderbird code, so the similarities should be no surprise.)

As the folks at BBEdit explained it to me, some text editors are good at handling mixed line endings in files, while others are more interested in helping you "normalize" line endings -- make them consistent. Apple's TextEdit and Notepad++ on Windows are examples of the former. BBEdit is one of the latter.

When BBEdit opens a file, it looks at the beginning to decide what kind of line ending it's using. If that file is a Thunderbird or Postbox mailbox and starts with a received message, then BBEdit decides on Unix line endings. And it expects to find those same line endings throughout the file -- as would be common in a text file.

The problem comes when BBEdit reaches a sent message with its Windows line endings. Because it expects single-character Unix line endings, it interprets the two-character combination of carriage return and line feed as _two_ line endings, and puts two line feeds in their place. In other words, it inserts a blank line between each line of text. And of course, it never warns you.

So, what happens when you next try to view that mailbox's messages in Thunderbird or Postbox? Both of those apps expect to find each message's headers in a set of single-spaced lines at the top. When they instead find double-spaced lines, they don't recognize the headers. All the messages you've sent are still listed, but they appear without subject, sender, or recipient, and with the current date replacing the original! The data is still safe in your mailbox, but Thunderbird and Postbox can't read it.

Is there any way to use BBEdit on a mailbox that doesn't damage it like that? Yes. You can open the file with the Open command on the File menu, unchecking the option to "Translate line breaks." After the file opens -- which can take a long time -- use the Normalize Line Endings command on the Text menu. Then, if you need to, at the bottom of the window, change the file's line endings from "Classic Mac (CR)" or "Windows (CRLF)" to "Unix (LF)."

You can then edit as you like, and Thunderbird or Postbox will have no problem. But this won't stop those apps from inserting more messages with Windows line endings -- so if you need to reedit, you'll likely have to go through the whole procedure again. Really, it's probably simpler to edit the mailbox in TextEdit instead.

What if you've already corrupted the file? If you can't replace from a backup, you'll have to remove the double spacing. To do that, you can reopen the file in BBEdit, find the double-spaced messages, and remove the extra blank lines by replacing each pair of line endings with a single one. (Yes, it's safe to edit the file like that.) The correct header info will then magically reappear in Thunderbird or Postbox. To make the repair quicker and easier, you can probably first use the email app to move all the mailbox's corrupted messages to a new mailbox by themselves.

As a long-term solution, we can hope that the developers of these apps make some changes. BBEdit's developers tell me there are changes coming down the line that may help with mixed line endings. And maybe Thunderbird's or Postbox's developers will wake up and realize there is no place for Windows line endings in a Mac app.

By the way, you'll notice I haven't discussed what happens in BBEdit when it opens a mailbox starting with Windows line endings but with Unix endings mixed in later. I'm afraid you'll have to work that out for yourself!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"How Do I Cancel/Close/Delete My WordPress.com or Gravatar Account?"

Well, you can't, but you can nuke them so they're as good as closed. In the spirit of overkill, here's how to do it with Gravatar, which is actually a feature of WordPress.

1. Go to Gravatar and sign in.

2. Delete your image.

3. Find your Gravatar profile, and click "Hide" at the bottom right.

4. Go to WordPress.com and sign in.

5. Click on the personal settings icon at upper right. (It looks like a head and shoulders in a circle.)

6. Go to the Security tab.

7. Under "Connected Applications," remove Gravatar.

For your WordPress.com account:

1. Sign in to WordPress.com.

2. Click on "My Site" at upper left and then on "WP Admin" to find the Dashboard for your blog.

3. In the Dashboard sidebar, click on Tools > Delete, and follow instructions.

4. Click on the personal settings icon at upper right.

5. Delete or change everything you want, including in your profile. (You can't delete the Public Display Name -- it will just come back -- but you can change it to "None" or something similar.)

6. Get a free throwaway address from a site like Mail.com.

7. Back at WordPress.com, go to the Account tab of your personal settings and change the email address to your new throwaway address. WordPress.com will send a verification email to that address.

8. Back at your throwaway email host, open the WordPress.com email and click the embedded link to verify the address. After that, you can delete the throwaway email account or leave it.

9. Back at WordPress.com, change the password to one that doesn't match any you use for other accounts. Optional: Make it a password you won't remember yourself.

10. Also optional: Under Account, change your username.

11. Sign out.