View Full Version : Moving Mail from MacBook Pro (Snow Leopard) to MacBookPro (Lion)

22nd June 2013, 05:50 PM
Is there any definitive advice anywhere on doing this? I've been trying unsuccessfully for many hours and can't get it to work. There is quite a bit of conflicting advice out there so would appreciate any help anyone can give.

Old MacBook: OS X 10.6.8
New MacBook: 10.7.5 (this is actually a refurbished one by Apple but I need the 17" screen).

I have multiple email accounts (3 with the same provider, one gmail) and many folders with many, many saved emails (used for research). I need all of these folders and emails on the new computer.

I suspect one mistake I made initially was to set up one of these addresses on the new computer. All I have is the standard set-up, Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Sent, etc but it does receive all my mail for that account (which I also receive on my old Mac)

Have tried:
a) Move Mail folder and Mail preferences doc to Desktop on new computer. (There are some suggestions online that I should delete rather than move but am not sure that I should do this. There is nothing in this mail that isn't on the other as I haven't used it to send anything.)
b) Copy the Mail folder and Mail preferences on old computer and, via a hard drive, transfer to the new.

On the new computer when I go to Library/Mail/Mailboxes I can see all the named mailboxes from my old computer - in fact most of them show up twice, once as 'Folder' and once as 'Mail Mailbox' - but these mailboxes don't appear when I open Mail.

Any/all thoughts would be appreciated.

Regards and thanks


22nd June 2013, 07:02 PM
Manual mail migrations are always fun. I've successfully done it in the past by grabbing everything out of the old Library/Mail/Mailboxes and moving them into their new home on the new machine, then also grabbing the Mail preferences file from ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail (or anything starting with mail) and moving that into the new Library/Prefs folder.

The lack of preferences is probably why your mailboxes aren't showing up Mail doesn't think you have any accounts set up.

22nd June 2013, 07:21 PM
Thanks very much for your advice.

I did actually copy and move the Preferences file - .apple.mail.plist - and there is a Preferences folder on my new Mac which has a lot of stuff in it. I've just compared that file to the one on my old Mac (which has all the right email accounts and storage mailboxes) and they seem to be exactly the same.

I'm wondering whether I have somehow copied the Mail folder etc to the wrong place on the new Mac. Could you or perhaps someone else tell me exactly where the Mail folder and preferences should be on Lion?

(I did research this and followed what I thought was correct but may have made a mistake.)

Another thing I'm wondering is whether Mail on my new Mac is still pointing to the old Mail folder that I put on the Desktop? The Mail setup I had before copying the folder/file from my old Mac has remained exactly the same - one email address, no 'On My Mac' storage mailboxes, etc so I guess it must be governed by something other than the Mail Folder I've transferred.

Thanks once again bennyling.


22nd June 2013, 07:53 PM
Isn't Mail one of the many things that Migration Assistant brings over?

Having backups is also useful. Aside from avoiding data loss, it is also convenient to plug the external drive directly into a new machine.

22nd June 2013, 08:39 PM
Thanks icant. I understand that Migration Assistant can lead to many problems when trying to import multiple email accounts and local mailboxes so am very reluctant to try that.

I have backups, both on Time machine and on an external hard drive which is what I've been using to try to get mail working in Lion, but those the Mail folder and Preferences just aren't transferring and working the way some people have suggested in other places.

I've just discovered that there is a V2 folder in the Library/Mail folder in Lion, which doesn't exist in Snow Leopard. And it seems that I should be transferring my old mail folder - or at least some of its content - to this folder, not the Mail folder itself. I've tried that as best I can but am not sure whether everything from the Snow Leopard Library/Mail folder should go into Lion ... Library/Mail/V2. So far my efforts have failed.

Stlll wondering whether the fact that I set mail up with one account before doing any of this is a fundamental problem. Am reading various suggestions that this will prevent transfer, ideas about setting up with a guest account and so on. Complicateder and complicateder.

Could anyone tell me what the file structure should be in the Library/Mail folder in Lion please?

22nd June 2013, 09:00 PM
I always export mailboxes, then import into new OS.

22nd June 2013, 09:08 PM
Manual mail transfers are always more problematic than using migration tools.

If all of your email is set up using IMAP then you could migrate it all just by setting up the email accounts on your new computer and allowing that computer to re-import all the mail (if it's IMAP only then this should get you all the folders and everything).

If you've been using POP3 for email it's a little more difficult.

Personally, I'd use the Migration Assistant. I've used it with multiple email accounts without issue previously.

If you don't want to do that then I'd probably look to export on your old computer and then import on your new computer. At least that way you won't need to worry about any permissions issues or the like.


22nd June 2013, 09:09 PM



contains folders called

AoSIMAP-<probably icloud username>

22nd June 2013, 09:12 PM
According to my own migration checklist, I transferred over
~/Library/Mail Downloads

Not that my checklist is foolproof or anything. I only have to use it a few times every few years when I do a major transfer (PITA).

22nd June 2013, 09:33 PM
The mail folder on Lion is in /Users/username/Library, but the ~/Library folder is usually hidden from normal use, you have to access it explicitly from the Finder Go menu by holding down Option.

Actually I think the last time I did this I just copied across the /Users/username/Library/Mail folder, then grabbed the preferences files.

22nd June 2013, 09:36 PM
Thanks once again icant. V2 file structure is much appreciated. All good here on that front.

Would it be too much trouble to tell me what the file structure is under Mail in Lion? (Just want to check that I haven't somehow put the wrong thing in the Mail folder - or deleted something accidentally.)

22nd June 2013, 09:47 PM
Thanks glacierdave. I have POP email (optusnet). IMAP is gmail is it not? I do have a gmail address and did have it on my current computer but only use it on my phone now.

Can I use Migration Assistant if I've already set up an email account on the new computer?

I'll do some research on export import mail. I can see File/Import Mailbox in Mail but nothing re export.

23rd June 2013, 02:56 AM
I think I'm sorted everyone. Thank you! It happened in a roundabout way - and I've probably created some other awful problems in the process - but this is what happened.
1. I wanted to change the short name for my user account in my new computer to match the short name for my user account in my old computer, thinking this might be one reason for library files not transferring. After I changed the short name using a root user account, and logged back in as myself, mail had decided I was a new person altogether so wanted to go through the setup process.
2. I checked and the Mail folder in Library was pristine. Since I'd read here a few times that it was important to transfer the Mail folder, Prefs and Mail Downloads to the new computer before opening mail, I could now do this without reinstalling Lion. And it worked I'm very happy to say.

Re changing the short name for my User account in Lion ... I changed it to 'Ann' but after changing it I read that it has to be in lower case. The other problem is that it is now different to the account name and home directory in Users/User Account/Advanced options. I'm waiting for disaster ....

Aside from that thanks once again to the people above for your interest and help.