Stop Apple Mail from syncing Exchange Public Folders via IMAP

Since I sometimes had very poor Internet connections over the last few month I thought about how I could lower the data transfer volume on my Mac. One of the things that already bothered me since ages is that Exchange accounts in Apple Mail always sync the Public Folders. I never want to read those items and they are really useless.

After a bit of searching around I found two solutions that worked for me. One is only applicable if you are a Domain Administrator on the Exchange server, the other one is not so elegant but also works if you just have a mail account.

As Domain Administrator

  1. Log into the Exchange server and open the “Active Directory Users and Computers” management console.
  2. Find your acoount, click on “Properties” and select the “Exchange Features” tab
  3. Select “IMAP4” and click on “Properties”
  4. Disable “Use protocol defaults” and uncheck “Include all public folders when a folder list is requested”

Now give the Exchange some time to get the changes. After a while the Public Folders shouldn’t be displayed any more and when syncing this IMAP account they are left out as well.

On your local account

  1. Quit Mail
  2. Go to ~/Library/Mail/ (that’s the Library folder in your home directory) and find the folder that holds all the folders & messages for the Exchange account.
  3. Delete all the contents of “Public Folders” (always back-up first, before you delete 😉 )
  4. Select “Public Folders” and press CMD+I to get the Info. (or CTRL+click on it and select “Get Info”)
  5. Now under “Ownership & Permissions” set the folder to “No Access”
  6. Start Mail and observe the beauty of an Exchange IMAP account that doesn’t do useless Public Folders syncing!


  1. Is there an update for this fix? It works well for me (the local account version, no luck with the exchange domain administrator), with 10.5.2 as well, but I wonder whether there is a newer way of doing it.

  2. I don’t know of any other ways to do this. Apple Mail does offer IMAP subscriptions but unfortunately they don’t work with any of my accounts (Exchange, Gmail, Cyrus).

  3. Could it be related to the differences in IMAP and Exchang services for WEB?

    Its possible that if you’re not able to follow these instructions your Mac Mail account is setup for Exchange services, not IMAP. THere is a big difference in protocol, since exchange services use WebDAV for its sync, and IMapi does a direct sync.

  4. I realy need the public folders in IMAP and apple Mail!!!

    Why are they not there in Exchange 2007, how can I enable them…

    We work as a team and archive all mails by project even sent, it’s company policy!

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