Fixing Apple Mail ( / mac mail) “cannot verify username or password”

Every version of mac mail seems to have new ways to make the setup and configuration of pop3 mail not work. Today I ran into a new problem and solution.

This particular fix is for accounts that are set up and working but will not save changes made to the configuration after the initial setup. In my particular case I had set up a pop3/smtp combo without secure authentication (for a test) and now needed to go into the configuration and enable secure authentication. I checked the boxes for secure authentication but when saving I continually received the “cannot verify username and password” message.

I fixed this by going to the first tab and un-checking “Take this account online”. I was then able to save the setup. In the primary mail window I was able to take the account online and send and receive mail (in fact the account was already online despite having un-ticked “Take this account online).

Frustrating but at least it does work for those cases in which you need a POP3 mail account setup.

If this doesn’t work for for you, check these other more common issues:

  • Ensure all password fields are filled in. In many versions of mac mail, the passwords will be set blank after each attempt.
  • Likewise for the account username (which should normally be the full email address)
  • If all fields are set correctly, you many times have to repeatedly go through the process of “save/continue/etc”, verify, failure until finally it “magically” works (even though you changed nothing). I have cases where I’ve clicked 5 to 10 times to finally get it to take. I’ve not been able to find the cause (even though in most cases I controlled the server and could watch all server-side logs and connections).

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