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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, 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 I'd rather avoid obliterating copying over other settings if at all possible.

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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

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/ to the new computer, and place it in the same location
  3. Start

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".

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+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

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