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Summary:

Of all the information I have stored on my Mac, email is by far the data I hold with highest regard. I choose not to use a web based email service such as GMail or MobileMe Mail – rather using the basic Mail application bundled with OSX. […]

Moving Mail MessagesOf all the information I have stored on my Mac, email is by far the data I hold with highest regard. I choose not to use a web based email service such as GMail or MobileMe Mail – rather using the basic Mail application bundled with OSX. While my various accounts do utilize IMAP, all my archived mail messages are stored locally in various folders.

When recently moving to a new Apple machine, I needed to quickly and easily move all my email account data, messages and attachments, along with the data I’ve collected for my spam filtering application, SpamSieve. This process can be very straight forward when you know how.

Moving Mail Messages & Data

  1. Open Mail on your new Mac. This will create the various folders and files which we’ll replace with our own data momentarily. Don’t create an account, just proceed to close the application.
  2. Copy the following folders/files from your old Mac to a USB Drive or network location: Users > Username > Library > Mail (folder) and Users > Username > Library > Preferences > com.apple.mail.plist. (‘Username’ represents your user account name for your Mac.)
  3. Move the ‘Mail’ folder and the .plist file to the exact same locations on your new Mac — you’ll need to confirm that you’re happy to replace the existing data. Double check you do this the correct way around and don’t overwrite your old data!
  4. Open Mail on your new Mac — all your settings, account data, signatures and messages should be intact. If they don’t seem to be present, check that you have copied the data to the correct location as outlined above.

Using MobileMe

You do also have the option of syncing your mail account information (not messages) using MobileMe. Under ‘MobileMe’ in Preferences, check the boxes entitled ‘Mail Accounts’ and ‘Mail Rules, Signatures, and Smart Mailboxes’:

Sync Mail with MobileMe

Moving SpamSieve

If you have been using a spam filtering application for a long period, it’s really infuriating to lose the filters and rules it has created. Moving data with SpamSieve is simple:

  1. Install SpamSieve as normal on the new machine
  2. Copy the following folders/files from your old Mac to a USB Drive or network location: Users > Username > Library > Application Support > SpamSieve and Users > Username > Library > Preferences > com.c-command.SpamSieve.plist. (‘Username’ represents your user account name for your Mac.)
  3. Move the ‘SpamSieve’ folder and the .plist file to the exact same locations on your new Mac — you’ll need to confirm that you’re happy to replace the existing data. Double check you do this the correct way around and don’t overwrite your old data!
  4. Open Mail/SpamSieve and check that your ‘Corpus’ is intact:

Moving SpamSieve Corpus

If you have a different setup, please let me know in the comments for a future article!

  1. How about moving PGPMail or GnuPG-Mail (secretkeys/signatures) between Macs?

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  2. hi, I’m a new reader of your site

    Just like you, I also prefer to keep my mail archived on my Mac, even if I’m using IMAP mail services like gmail or .Mac – and I’m also using Mail and Spamsieve.

    but here’s something that really bothers me, I wonder if you or other readers know a solution:

    To keep my archived mail organized, I use Rules filtering. But (unlike Eudora which I used for >10yrs) Mail.app doesn’t seem to let you apply rules to SENT messages. it seems to be some bizarre design philosophy of Mail.app. But I want to keep all related messages whether sent or received filed away together.

    there’s an old Applescript I found to Filter Sent Messages, however it seems to interfere with Spamsieve, so for now I’m stuck manually filing sent messages.

    anyone have a tip to filter sent messages in Mail.app and Spamsieve?

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  3. You think that’s tricky? I switched from PC to Mac and managed to keep everything just the way I had it. How? Easy! I switched to GMail about a year before I switched to Mac. For precisely this reason.

    You don’t say *why* you don’t want to use something like GMail or Yahoo! Mail. You’re already using IMAP so your mail sits on someone else’s server until you decide where it goes anyway – what’s the big deal with leaving it there forever?

    And yes, I have a full backup of my mail via GMail’s POP facility. No it’s not always bang up to date and no it doesn’t have the same organisation as it does online, but the information is there.

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  4. Insideusually Sunday, December 6, 2009

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