Backing up Mail preferences and messages


Your Mail accounts, rules, signatures, and Smart Mailboxes preference settings can easily be backed up. Tip: All Mail-related preference files should be backed up or restored as a group.

* To back up:

Note: These steps back up Mail preferences, but do not back up Mail messages (emails), although you can do that with the .Mac Backup utility. See below if you want to manually back up Mail messages (mailboxes).
1. Create a uniquely-named folder on your desktop (or other favorite location). For example, you might call it “Mail Prefs Backups May_15_2005” (adding a date is a good idea).
2. Quit Mail if it’s running.
3. In the Finder choose Home from the Go menu.
4. Open the Library folder.
5. Open the Preferences folder.
6. Copy the “com.apple.mail.plist” file to the folder you made in step 1 by Option-dragging the file. Don’t remove the original file from its current location (this file contains your Mail accounts information).
7. Close the Preferences folder.
8. Open the Mail folder.
9. Copy the “MessageRules.plist” file to the folder you made in step 1 by Option-dragging the file (this file contains your Mail rules).
10. Copy the “SmartMailboxes.plist” file to the folder you made in step 1 by Option-dragging the file (you guessed it, this file contains Smart Mailboxes information).
11. Finally, copy the Signatures folder to the folder you made in step 1 by Option-dragging the folder. (Your custom signatures, if you use them, are stored here.)
* To restore:

Move all copies of the files and folders from your uniquely-named folder to the original locations from which they came, as listed above.

To manually back up Mail messages (emails)

You might wish to manually back up all your Mail messages from time-to-time. To back up entire mailboxes (where Mail stores messages), such as your Inbox, follow these steps:

1. Quit Mail if it’s open.
2. From the Finder’s Go menu, choose Home.
3. Open the Library folder.
4. Copy the folder “Mail” to your backup location, such as a different volume or burnable disc. Important: Do not remove the Mail folder from ~/Library. If you’re backing up to the same volume, hold the Option key as you drag the folder to make a copy instead of moving it (a “+” cursor appears).

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