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What files and folders do I need to copy to bring my old Address Book, iCal entries and Mail messages onto my new computer? I see a whole bunch of options on my machine, some of which have not been updated for several years. While I could just copy everything and hope for the best I was hoping that I could be a little more strategic.

I did think of using Migration Assistant but I don't think it's an option in this case. (Suggestions to the contrary welcome!) Read on for the full story.

I have an external hard disk and a shiny new MacBook Pro. The external disk used to be the main disk in an old iBook G4 before its motherboard got frazzled and is now in a USB disk enclosure. Unfortunatley the MacBook Pro does not recognise the disk. It seems to work in pretty much every other Mac just not the one I need to transfer the files to (hence Migration Assistant probably not being an option).

I am guessing that the external disk does not work because of a power issue. A solution I intend trying in parallel to asking this question is using a powered USB hub rather than connecting directly to the Mac.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The direct answer:

Copy these folders to the same location on the MacBook Pro. If you run into "file is in use" errors, ensure that the application is closed and if that fails rename the folder (on the MacBook Pro) to something else and then copy your data over. As a reminder ~ denotes your home folder

Address Book
~/Library/Application\ Support/AddressBook

This depends on what version of OS X you were running on the iBook If you were running OS X 10.4: ~/Library/Application\ Support/iCal - be sure to delete ~/Library/Calendars so that the version of iCal in 10.5 will import the old information from Application Support into it's new location. If you were running OS X 10.5: ~/Library/Calendars


Preferences for all the applications can be found at ~/Library/Preferences/ under the names - while you don't need to copy it for the Address Book and iCal you will need to copy it for Mail so that Mail knows what accounts you have set up.

If you'd still like to give Migration Assistant a try and the powered USB hub fails you can use Firewire Target Disk Mode. What you need to do is plug the drive into a computer that does recognize the hard drive, then run a Firewire cable from that computer to your MacBook Pro. If the Mac in question has FireWire 800 you can use a FireWire 800 (9-pin to 9-pin cable) otherwise you'll need to get a hold of a Firewire 400 to FireWire 800 (6-pin to 9-pin) cable. Restart the Mac in question holding the T key and all the drives (including externals, CDs, etc.) that will mount on the MacBook Pro. You can then use Migration Assistant.

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Thanks for the great, detailed answer. Will accept the answer when I've had the chance to test it, but it looks like exactly what I need. – Stephen Darlington Aug 17 '09 at 20:56
I was about to post a question like "where does iCal store its calendar data" (as Google only gave me obsolete info) but this solved the issue. Thanks! – Jonik Nov 8 '09 at 22:31

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