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I upgraded to OSX Lion. I have a previous Time Machine backup and I would like to get back just the information from

  • Mail
  • iTunes
  • iPhoto

I wonder if there is any workaround in the migration assistant to get back just this data and not the data for all applications.

… or if you can tell me how could I get this data efficiently imported into these applications? I had a look at "import" in Mail but I do not feel very confident about its efficiency.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

AFAIK there is no means of just restoring individual applications. However, thanks to the way OS X handles application data and settings, you should have no problems restoring the applications yourself. There's no real magic behind it.

I don't know if there are any known issues between OS X 10.6 and 10.7, which could lead to unexpected behavior. Especially for the preference files (plist), if there are any problems, just trash them on your 10.7 machine, and they will be restored to their default when the application is restarted.

Another neat trick you should remember for iPhoto or iTunes is that when you hold option and click the application's icon in the Dock, it will present you a dialog which allows you to choose a library.

How can I recover …

… iTunes?

  • … stores its library under ~/Music/iTunes. Just restore this folder.
  • Restore ~/Library/Preferences/ to get your application settings.

For more information, see here: Migrate iTunes Library with meta-data to a new machine

… iPhoto?

  • … stores its library under ~/Photos/iPhoto Library. Restore the whole folder.
  • Restore ~/Library/Preferences/ to get your application settings.

More details in this answer: How do I back up iPhoto library to external HDD without using Time Machine

… Mail?

  • Restore ~/Library/Mail
  • Restore ~/Library/Preferences/

See here for more details: How do I move saved mail from one machine to another?

… iCal?

This depends on the type of calendar you used, but I guess it should be enough to:

  • Completely restore ~/Library/Calendars for all your calendar data.
  • Remove the Calendar Cache file while iCal is quit (suggested here).
  • Restore ~/Library/Preferences/ for your preferences.

If you have trouble and still have access to the old system, you can also do the following:

  • Go to File > Export > iCal Archive
  • Use the Import feature to restore this archive

See How to back up iCal calendar data for more info.

… Keychain?

  • Restore ~/Library/Keychains/login.keychain
  • Restore any other keychain you might have saved in ~/Library/Keychains

… any other application?

Most applications that don't require an extra installer (i.e. the thing with dialogs) usually only need the following data to be restored:

  • Restore the main .app from /Applications
  • Restore ~/Library/Preferences/<bundle-identifier>.
  • Look for additional data under
    • ~/Library/Application Support. This is for example where Chrome and Firefox store their profile, Cyberduck stores its bookmarks, etc.
    • ~/Documents. This is where some apps store data, even if they really shouldn't.
    • Hidden files or folders in your home folder, beginning with ~/.. Use and run ls -la ~ to list them. Use open ~/.something to open it.
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thanks a lot I tried it and it works !!! I guess I can also try this for iCal and Keychain ??? – flow Sep 13 '11 at 7:01

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