How to backup mail and account in Mail App if I want to downgrade my system?

Jedi82

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 25, 2014
12
0
Hy guys, sorry if I post in the wrong section!

I red a lot and search all around but still don't find an easy and 100% secure solution for what I would like to do: backup all I have on my macOS Mail app (so tons of account and mails) into an external drive MANUALLY (so I don't want to use Time Machine or similar tool) and restore the content on a fresh install of my system.

For what I know, it's very difficult to backup mail from for example a Catalina install and restore it on a downgrade system with for example High Sierra am I right?

Is there an easy solution? Thanks!!
 

Jedi82

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 25, 2014
12
0
Of course mail are configured on pop3 and unfortunately Catalina doesn’t work fine on a late 2012 iMac :(
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,661
6,848
Here's how I'd try it:
WARNING: I'm not sure if an older version of mail can re-import newer mail files.
It MIGHT be necessary to "export your entire mail folder" to mbox format before proceeding.
To do this, I think you'll need to export EACH AND EVERY mailbox separately.
There may be easier ways, I'm not sure, others will have to jump in with their experiences.
I believe there ARE utilities out there (not free) that can assist in this operation.
AGAIN, I'm not sure if you can do the following to move mail from Catalina to High Sierra.
Mail.app (in High Sierra) may refuse to import mail that has been "touched" by Catalina.

Did you keep an older backup around somewhere that represents your mail back BEFORE you upgraded to Catalina?

In any case, this is what I'd try:

First, you'll need a drive large enough to hold the "mail" folder (keep reading).
Format that drive to HFS+ (Mac OS extended with journaling enabled, GUID partition format).

Next...
Connect the "mail backup" drive to your Mac
Navigate to home/library (so you can see it in the finder).
Locate the folder home/library/mail
Copy the ENTIRE FOLDER to the backup drive.
Disconnect and set this aside in a safe place for now.

When you have "the downgraded OS" up and running, do this:
Connect the mail backup drive
Open Mail
Go to "import mailboxes" in the file menu
I'd try "import data from Apple Mail" (which is the default setting)
Then, I'd navigate to the external drive and select the "Mail" folder as the "import target".
See if Mail will "bring it all in".
You'll probably need to do some re-arranging, etc., once it's all imported.

This is how I'd try it.
I can't guarantee success, but if I recall, I've "re-imported" old mail back into Mail before using this method.
AGAIN, this MAY NOT WORK trying to import "newer mail" back to an older version of the OS.

EDIT: (IMPORTANT)
I keep a copy of Catalina on an external drive. I have never used it as my "boot OS" (I'm using Mojave).
I just mounted the Catalina drive in the finder to experiment with it.
I opened Mail (using Mojave), and chose to use the "Import Mailbox" option I described above.
Mail was able to import some mailboxes from Catalina (there's essentially only mailboxes there, with no internal mails, as I said, I don't use it).
I'm going to GUESS that if it will import "just the mailboxes", it will probably import mail "inside" as well (but again, that's ONLY "a guess").
So... it MIGHT be possible to import mailboxes from Catalina to Mojave.
Again, I CANNOT PROMISE this will work for you.
Note: You will find your account on the "data" partition in Catalina.
Also... the "library" folder is invisible by default. You will need to use some kind of trick to make it visible before Mail will be able to "see that it's there" and access it.
 
Last edited:

Jedi82

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 25, 2014
12
0
Wow, thanks so so much but no luck for me this time :( I will explain the case I'm in right now (so no downgrade). I install a fresh copy of Catalina on an external SSD and let load it on my iMac. So I have my old disk (always Catalina) that I can read while I'm on the new "SSD Catalina". Soooooo, mail have the same V7 folder right? yes...but...I followed this amazing guide but no luck. I did all but if I open Mail, he always start fresh even if I copied inside ALL the old folders :(
Why so difficult? Why!!!!! I have to restore all my mails because they where unfortunately in pop3 so...
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,661
6,848
There's nothing wrong with POP.
I've always used it, and continue to use it (with Mojave).
I don't care for "imap" at all...
 

Jedi82

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 25, 2014
12
0
ok well, I'm fine with it. Was just saying that If the accounts were in IMAP problem would be solved hours ago. :(
 

Jedi82

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 25, 2014
12
0
Well well well, I think I found a good solution!!!!! After reading the guide I mentioned before, I discover searching from Google that we have to import also the user/Library/Accounts folder entirely!!! Once done, I opened Mail and all the mails and accounts showed! (sorry for my bad English guys). Hope to be helpful also to other user with that said!!!!
 

AdIonascu

macrumors newbie
Apr 19, 2020
6
0
Try also: Locate mail index and move them out from the folder (/user/library/mail/vx/mail data) and relaunch mail. It shoud reindex the emails, GLuck! Screen Shot 2020-08-08 at 10.43.15 PM.png
 
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