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Trouble recovering mail.


macrumors member
Original poster
I have a 2006 iMac that won't turn on after a power surge that hit 2 days ago, and I have a MacBook. Both were running running 10.6.8. I have been using Time Machine and a remote wireless Hard Drive to backup everything. My primary issue is getting my "saved" mail from the backup to the MacBook. The MacBook can see the backed up mail files but I am unable to get my "saved" mail file to bring over the thousands of saved emails. So far I have tried:

1) import Mailboxes - it imports the thousands of messages but none appear.
2) Rebuilding the newly imported mailbox but only 102 messages appear
3) Manually dragging the saved.mbox over to User/me/Library/mail/mailboxes - the mailbox doesn't even appear if I do this.
4) I CAN open the individual .emix files and then in mail use the Move To command to move the messages one at a time. They do appear when I do that.

Any ideas how to get the 3000 messages from the old saved.mbox file into a mailbox on my MacBook?


Last edited:


macrumors member
Original poster
Migration Assistant

Sadly I tend to become obsessed when I can't do something that I know I should be able to do. So after wasting about 10 hours of my life on this issue I finally found an absolutely trivial answer, but first let me recap what happened.

1) I have an iMac that died.
2) I have a MacBook that is fine.
3) I used my iMac for ALL my email and saved ALL past correspondence on the iMac.
4) I backed up my iMac using Time Machine.
5) My iMac died on Monday and won't even turn on because of a power surge.

But for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to recover my mail files from the Time Machine backup to my MacBook. The RESTORE function doesn't work if you are on a different machine.

Drum roll please . . .

Applications/Utilities/Migration Assistant

It brings over the USER information and accounts and sets up a new user on the computer and then the first time you open MAIL under the newly migrated user account it restores all your old MAIL and MAIL settings.

Problem solved and my MAIL is just like I never lost it.

Question: If this is such a basic part of Time Machine why isn't it explained somewhere?


macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
My advice for the future would be to get ahold of CarbonCopyCloner and start using that to create a "bootable cloned backup", instead of using Time Machine.

All your files will be "right there in front of you", in "POFF" (plain old finder format), instantly available.

I guess I'm old-fashioned, but what's the point of saving "thousands" of old emails?
I review my emails periodically, archive the few that are important, and simply trash the rest of 'em...
(Although I can understand the need for saving "business-related" email, etc.)


macrumors member
Feb 7, 2014
Satellite Of Love
I recently did the same thing. Go into the Library folder on your backup hard drive and drag the ENTIRE Mail folder to the new computer's(Macbook) Library folder.

Next go into the the Preferences folder located in the Library folder. Drag over to the new Mac's Preferences folder.

This worked for me.

Blow is a link that describes this more in depth.
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