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Mail keeps asking for a password because:

  • The password is incorrect (unlikely if it was previously correct!)
  • The username is incorrect (unlikely if it was previously correct!)
  • The recipient's email address is malformed (e.g. margaret@gmail )
  • The password in "Mail Preferences" is different from that in "Keychain".

From time to time, Apple Mail will demand your password for no apparent reason. This is usually a sign that it's having trouble communicating with your ISP's mail server. Usually the problem goes away within minutes but, if it persists, and you keep trying to retrieve messages, Mail will switch the offending account off (but it won't tell you!)

If you are no longer receiving messages to a specific account, click on
Mailbox -> Online Status, and you'll see a window like this:

You'll notice that most of the accounts are Online but one (see blue arrow) is off-line. Simply click "Take xxx Online" and that should fix the problem till the next time. This problem is caused by the way in which Mail handles communication problems with the mail server. Invariably it is the fault of your ISP's mail server and there's nothing you can do about it. Just rarely it may be caused by a fault in your telephone wiring.

However DO ensure that the password in Mail - Preferences - Accounts is the same as the one in Utilities - Keychain Access.

Also note that some mail servers require separate passwords for sending (SMTP) and receiving.

Comment from Brian A.:

"I used to let that bother me and supplied the "missing" or invalid password. I got tired of that and found that often simply clicking "cancel" and leting mail do its thing was easier and sufficient. If it takes an account off line, I put it back on-line sometime later and it works perfectly well, most of the time. If it doesn't take the account "off line" then usually the next time checks the mail everything is fine.

I don't bother to put the password in again. It really doesn't need it."

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Copyright ©2007 Glodark
Updated June 4, 2015
This file may be downloaded for private and personal use but NO part of it may be published in any form without the prior permission of the author.

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