I have a few years of email saved on my email hosting providers IMAP servers. I would like to make a local backup copy of all those emails for archival purposes. I also need to be able to search through this archives. Any recommendations on a program for the Mac that can accomplish this? Freeware would be best but I don't mind paying for a good program.


  1. Storage in a cross platform format (i.e. text files)
  2. Preserve IMAP folder structure
  3. Able to search archives

Thank You!


Thunderbird might be a good answer. It stores IMAP-downloaded folders as standard mbox files, will preserve the IMAP structure, and has a rudimentary search function. You can also pick up your Thunderbird profile directory and put it on any other machine with Thunderbird to read it.


OS X's Mail.app respects parts 2 and 3

  • And part 1, too. In 10.6 (and earlier, too, I think), each message is stored as an individual plain-text .emlx file within the .imapmbox folder.
    – mbauman
    Apr 20 '11 at 2:36

Check out the imapsync program. It is an IMAP synchronization, copy or migration tool that is available through MacPorts.

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