Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have two OS X machines running Snow Leopard, a laptop and a desktop. I have saved mail messages on my laptop that I'd like to move to my desktop. However, the obvious method—copying ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Saved Items/ and …Saved Items.mbox to ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes—doesn't work right. After I did this, I can see the folders on the left side of Mail.app, but none of the messages show up at all in the message list at the top of Mail.

Funny thing is, I can see these messages just fine if I enter relevant search terms into Spotlight.

What's the minimum amount of files that I need to copy from my laptop to my desktop if I want these e-mails to show up in Mail.app? I'd rather avoid obliterating copying over other settings if at all possible.

share|improve this question
Did you just copy it or did you import it? Spotlight will index it because it's just text with some Base64 thrown in. –  user10547 Oct 1 '09 at 1:18
Copy via Finder. –  user1744 Oct 1 '09 at 1:36

2 Answers 2

For backing up Mail, and your mail configuration, the simplest thing is:

  1. Copy ~/Library/Mail to the new computer, and place it in the same location
  2. Copy ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist to the new computer, and place it in the same location
  3. Start Mail.app

If you just want to backup a particular mail folder, just right click on the mailbox, and choose "Archive Mailbox". Choose a destination, and probably you'll want to click on "Archive Subfolders".

share|improve this answer
+1 for Archive Mailbox. Just to complete the process, at the new machine do File / Import Mailboxes –  Steve Folly Oct 1 '09 at 5:25
You might also want to copy ~/Library/Mail Downloads/ –  Matthew Rankin Jan 11 '10 at 21:24
~/Library/Mail Downloads/, is only used for temporary files. For example, you open an attachment in MS Word. The attachment is copied to ~/Library/Mail Downloads, and then opened... So only a small fraction of your attachments will be in there... –  Benjamin Schollnick Jan 12 '10 at 0:30

You could try selecting the new (empty) Saved Items mailbox and do Mailbox > Rebuild

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.