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Solution for “Account Already Exists” in Mac Mail / OS X El Capitan

Solution for “Account Already Exists” in Mac Mail / OS X El Capitan

Recently in Apple Mail on Mac OS X El Capitan I received a strange error message when trying to add a Charter email account for a client: “Mail account already exists”. I followed the steps that Charter recommends but I could not get the account to add. After some troubleshooting, here’s how I finally solved it.

Before you implement this fix, verify you have the correct email and password by logging in to your email providers website (for Charter, it’s charter.net). Once you’ve done that, head to the solution below.

Solution

  1. Head to the Apple logo in the top left corner  > System Preferences
  2. Select iCloud (third row, first icon)
  3. Sign out of your iCloud account by clicking Sign Out
  4. Re-add your mail account
  5. Sign back into your iCloud account

Why this works

I believe iCloud Keychain causes the problem, which syncs lots of data, including internet accounts, across multiple devices.  The email account in question is somewhere in the iCloud data trying to sync, but it’s stuck in limbo. However, disabling iCloud Keychain by itself does not fix the problem, leaving the only solution to be to sign out altogether.

Mac OS X Versions this affects

This bug affects all versions of Mac OS X El Capitan — 10.11.0, 10.11.1, 10.11.2, 10.11.3, 10.11.4, 10.11.5, and 10.11.6.

If you find that this bug affects other versions of OS X or have a better workaround, please leave a comment below.

Known Mail Providers Affected

  • Comcast
  • Charter

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