Fixing “The Message Could Not Be Moved to the Mailbox Trash” Error on a Mac

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[Updated 11/3/17]

If you have run into the following message in Mail on your Mac, Macbook, or Macbook Air: “The message could not be moved to the mailbox ‘Trash'” (or some other mailbox) “The message *.emlx couldn’t be copied to ‘Messages’ because an item with the same name already exists,” here is what to do to fix it.

We most often see this when someone is trying to delete a message (move it to the Trash folder), but it can happen in other situations as well. A reason that you might run into the “The message could not be moved to the mailbox ‘Trash'” situation specifically seems to be when you try to delete a huge number of messages at once, which may for some reason corrupt the trash folder.


message could not be moved to the mailbox

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Fixing “The Message Could Not Be Moved to the Mailbox Trash” Error on a Mac

Anyways, the fix is very easy.

First, highlight (click on) the mail folder that you are trying to move the message to (in our example that is the Trash folder):

mac trash folder

Next, go to the Mailbox menu, and click “Rebuild”:

rebuild mac mail folder

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Fixing “The Message Could Not Be Moved to the Mailbox Trash” Error on a Mac

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People also searched for macbook error cannot be moved to mailboc trash in yahoo, some of the messages could not be downloaded and were not moved

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56 Replies to “Fixing “The Message Could Not Be Moved to the Mailbox Trash” Error on a Mac”

  1. Yeah, even here in 2019 REBUILDING the TRASH Folder did it and yes it was because I deleted a x-large amount of emails at once. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  2. So many suggestions on this topic – most were complicated – none worked until your straightforward and simple fix. Many many thanks from me as well!!

    P.S Weird that this is still an issue years later….:P

  3. It’s november 2017, and this article from almost 3 years ago still work perfectly. Thank you very much.


  5. Worked for me after I rebuilt he sent folder. Thank you, wish I would of found this 2 months ago!! LOL

  6. THANK YOU! I used to be a somewhat obnoxious mac apologist, but things have really seemed to go gradually downhill in the last few years. I still by Macs, too deep into them – But I am so grateful from people like you!!! I have sought other help of line, but – WOW – this work – and it was easy and fast. Thanks David W.

    1. You’re very welcome, thank YOU for letting us know that it was helpful, that’s why we do what we do!:-)

  7. So easy and worked exactly like you said. Thank you very much! My stress level has just decreased immensely.

  8. OMG. Thank you so much. I have been going CRAZY. fooling with clean my mac etc etc etc. and here you did it in a second! yea!

  9. I had to rebuild my In box, where the suspect messages resided. I first transferred all the “good” messages in the In Box to a temp mailbox, leaving the three bad ones, then rebuilt the in box, at which point the bad ones disappeared. Then I moved all the good ones back from the temp mailbox. Thanks.

  10. Thank you – I was getting very grumpy with my computer. You saved me grinding a significant amount of my teeth away!! Worked perfectly.

  11. Thank-you thank-you thank-you!!!! this was doing my head in and I thought Id Messed my Mac up forever – worked a treat and I can now go back to the big clean out.

  12. This didn’t work for me! I’m getting spam pieces that seem to have an attachment. When I try to move them, I get: The message “STEVE, Notice to appear in Court #000871089” could not be moved to the mailbox “Junk — stevecagan” / The file “145392.emlx” couldn’t be opened because there is no such file.” Rebuilding the mailbox I want to send it to doesn’t help at all. Sometimes rebuilding the mailbox it’s in helps, but I’m reluctant to keep rebuilding my inbox…

  13. When I try to deleted a mail i get the following msg :

    The file “157321.emlx” couldn’t be opened because there is no such file.

    Please can you help me.


  14. Yes! Worked for spam/virus e-mails with hidden attachments – i.e.:

    “The message “X” could not be moved to the mailbox Trash – the file “Y” couldn’t be opened because there is no such file.”

  15. Thank you. This works and It saved me. The problem was really aggravating. Much appreciated.
    Gregory James Blount

  16. I’m trying to back up my sent my moving it to a folder on my mac in apple mail. When I try to move the nearly 3,000 emails, I get the same error message as you mentioned… However rebuilding doesn’t work. Any other ideas?

    1. Hi Kim! Try moving fewer messages at a time; in fact try moving just a few (like, 3) and if that works, then the problem is that your system can’t process 3k at once, so you’ll need to do it in batches.

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