How-To: Moving Email Between Macs

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!

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