Fixed: Mac Mail Won’t Quit & Keeps Interrupting Shut Down

I’ve been bothered by this issue several times. I couldn’t shut down my MacBook because of Apple Mail, an app that I use daily.

It seems Mail won’t quit and it shows me this error message:

When I tried to quit the Mail app, it just failed…weird!

Mail won’t quit

Trying to find out the reasons why, I searched around and happened to bump into a few forum discussions where other Mac users were also experiencing the same issue.

And to my surprise, most of us (even the tech gurus) couldn’t figure out the exact reasons. 

Some say it’s related to the macOS version your Mac is running, while others argued it’s due to the Mail app itself — hinting it’s a bug that exists for more than a decade and needs to be fixed urgently.

Personally, I think it’s the latter. Because I encountered a few other issues related to Mail, such as the app taking forever to receive and send out new emails. 

Sometimes when I try to send out an email, it just freezes on the “sending” process, I have to double-check the sent box to make sure my email reply is delivered successfully. By the way, Apple knows this issue as you can see from this support article.

In another case, the Mail app had some problems after iPhone and iPad users updated to iOS 11. Apple and Microsoft were working together to fix the problems, as you can read more from this MacRumors report.

Now let’s get back to the topic!

The “Imperfect” Fix Solution

Anyways, the solution to fix the Mail app failing to quit error is simple. And there are several ways to do so.

First Method

Step 1: Click the Apple logo on the top left corner, then select Force Quit.

Step 2: Highlight the Mail app, and confirm the operation by clicking Force Quit. After that, your Mac should be able to shut down properly.

Second Method

You can also quit the Mail app via Activity Monitor, an app that allows you to monitor all active processes currently consuming resources on your Mac. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1. Open Applications, find Activity Monitor. Alternatively, you can do a quick Spotlight search on the top right corner to find this app and open it.

Step 2: Highlight Mail and hit the “x” icon.

Step 3: Select Force Quit.

Mac Still Won’t Shut Down?

I’m afraid the only solution now is to force shut down your Mac. You can do so by pressing the Power button for 5 seconds or so, and your Mac should be shutting down in a few seconds.

  • For MacBooks: the Power button is on the far right side of your keyboard. 
  • For iMacs: the Power button is behind the lower left side of your iMac’s screen.

Why It’s an Imperfect Solution?

Because there’s a possibility that this could corrupt email files, causing data loss. If you deal with Mac Mail emails on a daily basis, chances are there are a lot of email files generated.

Make sure to use the Force Quit solution with caution. And remember to back up your emails regularly just in case. 

That’s all for this post, I hope you find it useful. And hopefully, the Apple Mail team can improve the app and fix this Mail app bug.

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  • Paung

    Treated by first method, thank you.

  • Bruno Mantovani Leandro

    The same problem on my MacBook Air M1 (2020), running macOS Monterey 12.6 (fully updated). This happened on my MBP (13-inch, 2011) running macOS High Sierra 10.13, I And I thought it was a High Sierra problem. But no, apparently Apple still hasn’t learned how to make a good email app or a calculator for the iPadOS.

  • Patrick T Copley. SR

    I have been with Apple for over 15 years and did not have this problem until I reinstalled Monterey Then it started ?
    Doesn’t” seem like there is a solution-considering all the suggestions. But I will try the ALL. Thanks for the help in the past.

  • Dan

    I’ve had this problem for years–that Mail takes 30-45 seconds to shut down; most currently on M1 Mac Mini. Does anyone know if archiving most of the mail messages would speed this up?

  • Leah

    It happens to me every time I open Mail. Quite frustrating actually, but the force quit is good enough for now. Not exactly a permanent solution though.

  • Erik

    That’s not a solution

  • joan

    It just happened on my new Macbook Air Force quit not working.

    I cannot not believe I just bought a malfunctioning Apple product.

    I was not aware of this when I bought it.
    I wonder if I can get a refund?

    Not happy

    • Jerry Romero

      Sorry to hear that. If it’s within Apple Care, I believe you can.

  • bingli224

    it just happened on my Big Sur, Mac mini, (M1, 2020). I applied the 1st solution. Hope it wouldn’t be chronical.

  • Wendy

    Mac-mail won’t quit, or force-quit on my macOS Catalina 10.15.6; Microsoftonline won’t empty the delete folder; am stuck. Expensive equipment needs to work.

  • Lee

    Has a fix on this problem ever been found yet? I have to force close Mail every time it was opened to turn my mac down. Seem like Apple would have come up with a fix yet or someone else.

  • drx1

    Why is Kill Apple Mail with fire, not the correct answer?

    sudo kill -kill?

    Also, why are there pop-backs? It is the dumbest idea (glitch) ever. I know Microsoft championed this back in the day. WTF, Apple!

  • Roger Davies

    This problem has been “around for at least 15 years and Apple is well aware of it. They just don’t care enough to fix it. Very frustrating. I manage four macs. It is NOT OS-specific. They all have the same problem, frequently drop wireless connections, and lose their keychain settings.
    Each of these issues has existed for more than decade….

  • Who Cares

    First, this article does not fix anything. Second, this has been a problem with Mail app since Snow Leopard. Apple refuses to acknowledge this problem, let alone fix it. I’m so done with this garbage. Apple used to be great (around 2006 – 2012), it’s complete junk now.

  • Paul

    I have had this problem for seven years, ever since I bought my first Mac desktop. I have never had the problem on my macbook though. So it is a curious and annoying little bug that has never been squished. It isn’t every time but most times when you want to quit and mail is still running. I suspect it is because mail is doing something in the background … but if so then force quit could cause errors.

  • Rex Kinder

    Same problem. The people at Apple have no idea how these persistent bugs irritate users and cost them money in lost time and data. I run my business on my laptop and expect it to work. If it doesn’t work as expected, and as advertised, the product is of unmerchantable quality under Australian Law. Fix your substandard product Apple to avoid a class action from very upset business people.

  • Daniel White

    On my iMac mail is constanly saving drafts. The solution is to go to mail box behavior and turn off save drafts. The problem is mail box behavior has not option to “turn off saving drafts”. No only can I not shut down without force quitting mail but my machine runs very slow.

  • Charly

    Same problem. Very annoying.

  • David Hillyer

    I experience an occasional problem with Safari — nothing will load, though if I revert to Chrome things are fine.
    To overcome the Safari problem, I back out and try to restart my MacBook Pro — it will not shut down, saying: ‘ Mail interrupted re-start’.
    I then force to restart. It opens; I return to Safari, and it is fine.
    Does this suggest that the Mail programme is problematic not only for shut-down, but also for Safari?

  • Paul

    I have been having the same problem for the last few weeks. Mail also now doesn’t synchronise with my iPhone when mail is read on one device it remains ‘unread’ on the other and has to be opened separately. Any thoughts?

  • Kenneth Assee

    Mail has a bug! Wish Apple would do something about it. It is a nuisance with its uninvited interruption on the shutting down process.

  • Dan Lopes

    I have the same problem with my Mac mini running Mojave…..pissing me off. Every time I try to quit mail, it won’t unless I use the force quit method. Same with shut down….mail interrupts the action. I guess Im going to stop using the Mail app and use one of the Yahoo or gmail programs until Apple fixes this.

  • D Thomas

    Same problem with mail stopping shut down here.
    Only started in last few weeks.

  • art

    If you have mail open in your other devices, try to quit those then quit mail in imac.

    Hope this helps.

  • Robert W.

    Experienced the same problem today for the first time, had to force mail to quit. I’m not a tech person but there may be a relationship between this problem and retaining mail info in the cloud. Last night was the first time I authorized the cloud to store mail info. Tonight I deleted mail from the cloud list and it seemed to have solved the problem. Mail closes as it should.

    • Goran

      It s not solution. I have the same problem, and my mail never was in the cloud. Also, mail permanently works something without real need. Apple need to recognize the error in system and solve it.

    • Barbara Lash

      I can not shut down Maile on Mac book pro. This is the first time this has happened to me can not force quit either?

  • S Quayle

    I have also had this problem for about 3-4 months; keep hoping that Apple will fix it in the “next update” but it has not as yet happened. I find that eventually Shutdown will finally figure out how to quit mail, which gets ghosted in the drop down menu but stays active in the icon in the doc no matter how many times I quit. I am really not interested in having to force quit every time.

  • Chris Sutton

    I have been experiencing this problem BUT after I ‘FORCE Quit”, I am unable to open Mail again (the icon just bobs up and down in the Dock) and have to ‘FORCE Quit’. However then comes the biggest kicker: when you try to shut down your machine, the screen goes blank but the keyboard back illumination comes on and you get the whizzing catherine wheel on the screen and there it stays until the battery is flat ie. it totally freezes during the shutdown process. It only does this if you have had an issue with Mail during your session, other times it shuts down as advertised. (MBP 13″ Retina running MAC OS High Sierra – it never did any of this before upgrading (!) to High Sierra

    • Scott

      I’m dealing with this exact issue now. Did you ever find a resolution?

  • Tom Hallam

    This article sheds absolutely no light on “WHY Mac Mail won?t quit and keeps interrupting shut down”. The links also give no details on the problem, they address other matters. The suggested solution just ignores the problem, and recommends actions that might actually cause the problem (force quite can corrupt email files)