Moving your Apple Mail to a new Mac, or to a new, clean install of the OS, may seem like a difficult task but it actually only requires saving three items and moving them to the new destination.
There are a few ways to perform the move. By far the easiest, and the most often suggested method is to use Apple’s Migration Assistant. This method works well in most cases, but there’s one drawback to the Migration Assistant. Its approach is mostly all-or-nothing when it comes to moving data. You can select some basic categories, such as applications or user data, or just support files, and most of the time it works fine.
Where you can run into problems is when there’s something wrong with your Mac. You’re not sure what it is, maybe a corrupt preference file or a system component that’s a little whacky, and causes problems now and then. The last thing you want to do is copy a bad file to your new Mac or new install of OS X. But starting over completely doesn’t make sense, either. You may have years of data stored on your Mac. While some of it may be fluff, other pieces of information are important enough to keep on hand.
While it may be easy to recreate your mail accounts on a new system, it’s not easy to start off fresh, with none of your older email available, your Mail rules gone, and Mail always asking for passwords that you may have long since forgotten.
With that in mind, here’s a simple way to move just the data Apple Mail needs to a new location. When you’re done, you should be able to fire up Mail on your new system and have all your emails, accounts, and rules working just the way they did before the move.
What You Need to Move Mail
- A way to transfer files to the new location. You can transfer your files over a network, burn them to a CD or DVD, copy them to a USB flash drive, or, if the new system is on the same Mac, copy them from one hard drive partition to another. We won’t discuss the actual mechanism you use to perform the transfer, only which source files need to be copied, and where they need to be stored in your new installation.
- Administrative access to your data. You may need to change the file privileges, although for most users, this will probably not be necessary.
If you’re all set, then let’s get started.