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How to Move Apple Mail Settings and Email on a Mac

Moving email settings from one Apple Macintosh computer to another requires a bit of legwork. Since Mail (also called Mail.app or Apple Mail) doesn't have a built-in export feature, you'll have to locate two separate files to copy over to the other Mac. Here is how.

Click the "Finder" icon on the dock to launch a new Finder window.

Navigate to your account's Library folder in Mac OS X's Finder. Under Places, click your username (the one with the house icon) and then click "Library." You can also do this by selecting "Go" from the Finder's top menu and then "Go to Folder." Type in "~/Library" (without the quotes), and it will open up the Library folder.

Find the "Mail" folder.

Copy the entire "Mail" folder onto a storage device (USB thumb drive or blank CD-R) or transfer it over the network to the same place (User:Library) on the other Macintosh computer.

Go to the Preferences folder in the Library and locate the "com.apple.mail.plist" file. You can navigate there using the Finder window or select "Go" from the top menu of the Finder, click on "Go to Folder" and type in "~/Library/Preferences/" (without the quotes) in the prompt.

Copy the "com.apple.mail.plist" file onto your USB thumb drive or CD-R or copy it directly to the User:Library:Preferences folder on the other computer over the network. "User" is your user account name.

Plug in the USB thumb drive or insert the CD-R into the optical drive on the other Macintosh computer if you haven't transferred the files over the network.

Move the "com.apple.mail.plist" file to the User:Library:Preferences folder of the other Mac. "User" is your user account name.

Move the Mail folder to the User:Library folder on the other Mac.

Launch Mail.app. Now your settings and email should be the same as those on the old Mac. If not, make sure both the Mail folder and the "com.apple.mail.plist" file are in the correct places.

Tip

You can also use these steps to back up your email and settings. Instead of transferring and moving the files, just back them up to a disk or another portable hard drive.

Things You'll Need

  • Two Apple Macintosh computers running Mac OS X
  • USB thumb drive, blank CD-R or network connection
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About the Author

Alexia Petrakos has been working in the web industry for 10 years, helping clients such as Cartoon Network, CNN, Nascar, CARE USA. Mainly focusing on front-end web coding, she's also done technical writing and QA. Alexia's taught several classes on HTML & Web Development at workplaces and local libraries. Her love for computers was nurtured by her father who always brought home the latest technologies. When she's not geeking out Alexia is often found playing with paint, paper & fabric.