Q&A: Replacing a broken Mail app

Q I want to give my old Mac, running 10.6.8, to a friend, and in the process of preparing it seem to have misplaced the Mail application. When I copied across an older version of Mail, it informed me that it was running on the wrong system, and quit. Finally I updated the system using a Combo updater, but this has only restored fragments of Mail and I still do not have a working application (and have misplaced the original install disks too). Where can I download a copy of Mail from?

A Apple does not make component parts of OS X, such as the Mail application, available for separate download, although some elements such as QuickTime and Safari are usually also released individually.

Sometimes you can use a utility such as Pacifist to open an OS X installation package and install just the one application from there, but Mail has complex dependencies on other components within the /Library folder, and would probably still not work. In any case, you are going to need a copy of your Mac’s install disks, which you should be able to buy online.

Restart from that, run Disk Utility, and repair the hard disks properly. Next perform an archive and re-install, to provide a fresh copy of OS X, and apply the Combo updater to that. Once that is complete, restart from the hard disk and run Software Update to catch up with any additional installations. Mail and everything else there should be in fine fettle again. Sometimes you can cut corners and get away with quicker and dirtier techniques, but different parts of OS X are so interdependent that you are more likely to end up having wasted a lot of time to create a dysfunctional can of worms.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 4, 2011.