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.
- Head to the Apple logo in the top left corner > System Preferences
- Select iCloud (third row, first icon)
- Sign out of your iCloud account by clicking Sign Out
- Re-add your mail account
- 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
Does your iPhone ever vibrate randomly, but when you check it, there is no notification anywhere to be found? This is not a phantom vibration syndrome, and you are not imagining things.
The reason this is happening is usually because of Mail notifications. You may say, “I’ve turned off all my mail notifications, what do you mean?!” Well, there is one sneaky setting you might have missed — the vibration setting.
Turn off Vibration for Mail Notifications
- Head over to Settings > Sounds > New Mail
- Tap on ‘Vibration’
- Set it to ‘None’
With this setting on, even if you turn off all Mail sounds and notifications, your phone will vibrate every time it receives a new email.
There is one more place we need to check. iOS 7 added another place to manage Mail notifications.
Another Place to Check Mail Notifications
- Go to Settings > Notification Center > Mail
- Tap on the Account(s) you use for email
- Tap on Alerts
- Make sure the Alert Tone and Vibration are set to ‘None’
- Repeat for any other email accounts on your device
An alternate solution to the problem is to turn on notifications for VIPs or for an entire account. The latter option is not ideal for most people because that means you will be alerted for every email that comes in, including the spam. [footnote]Now you’ll be notified every time a Nigerian prince wants to transfer funds to your account![/footnote]
VIPs are just that: very important people you designate in iOS 7 [footnote]Also works in iOS 6.[/footnote] or Mac OS X Mavericks [footnote]Also works in 10.8 Mountain Lion.[/footnote] Designating someone as a VIP in either iOS or Mac OS X will allow you to set a different set of notification preferences.
For example, if you designate your spouse, boss, and good friends as VIPs, you can customize your notifications to vibrate, ding, show a banner, or show up on the lock screen for just your VIPs and not the rest of the annoying spam you get throughout the day.
Here’s how you do it.
Customize Notifications for VIPs
- Settings > Notification Center > Mail
- Tap on VIP [footnote]Or tap on Account if you want to receive notifications for an entire account. Just to be clear, if you turn these on for an entire account, you will receive a notification for every single email that comes to that account. You’ve been warned :)[/footnote]
- Customize the Notification style to your preferences
If you have done all of these steps and your phone is still vibrating randomly, be sure to check the notifications for your apps. The way that iOS 7 handles notifications is very confusing, and it’s difficult to disable notifications completely for apps. It’s possible you have an app set up for Sound notifications but have the Badge, Alert Style, and Notification Center settings switched off.
To check the notification settings for your apps, go to Settings > Notification Center. You should see a list of all of the apps on your device that support Notifications. Under the name of each app, you will see four possible words: Badges, Sounds, Banners, or Alerts. Scroll down the list and make sure there aren’t any apps with just ‘Sounds’ enabled. You may think you’ve turned off notifications for an app, but accidentally left ‘Sounds’ on. The resulting behavior is a sound or vibration without a visual indicator of where it is coming from.
I hope this article stops the random vibrations and allows you to get back to life and work instead of trying to figure out why your iOS device is vibrating all the time. If you are still feeling random vibrations after this, you may have phantom vibration syndrome and need to see a shrink. [footnote];)[/footnote]