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Question: Manual Mail Migration

Hi,


Does anyone know how to manually migrate email from another computer via target mode or external clone to a new mac running El Capitan - WITHOUT using Apple's migration assistant?


I've done this for years for clients and can't figure it out in El Capitan. I used to move these files/folders:


User - Library - Mail Folder

User - Library - Containers - com.apple.mail - data - Library - Mail Downloads

User - Library - Containers - com.apple.mail - data - Library - Preferences - com.apple.mail.plist


This always worked moving to Mavericks or Yosemite Macs... but not El Capitan.


Any thoughts on what to move?


When I did this for a client - it said migrating mail when launched... but then only showed the iCloud account - even though I moved 13GB of various IMAP and POP3 accounts, local folders, etc. Also - none of the actual email accounts appeared in mail preferences - just iCloud.


Thanks!


Sam

iMac (27-inch, Late 2012), OS X Yosemite (10.10.1)

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Question marked as Helpful

Nov 6, 2015 7:27 AM in response to maxmaxie In response to maxmaxie

This is tricky, but I just figured it out. I'm surprised Apple doesn't have good documentation on this. The trick lies in TWO things - migrating both your Apple Mail Items AND the Internet Account Items. Before Yosemite, your email accounts were all contained in the Apple Mail folders. However, now they have been separated so if you JUST manually migrate the Apple Mail stuff, without the Internet Accounts, then Mail will open and you'll just get your a nakedn iCloud Inbox that will start to load your most recent emails. Also, it helps to copy the Keychain folder over so you don't have to re-enter all your passwords (in Mail or other places as well).


These are the files you need to copy over from your user's Library folder:


for Internet Accounts

.../Accounts (folder)


for Mail

.../Mail (folder)

.../Mail Downloads (folder)

.../Containers/com.apple.mail (folder)

.../Preferences/com.apple.accounts.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.accountsd.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.mail-shared.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.MailMigratorService.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail-com.apple.mail.vipsenders.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail.plist (file)


for Keychain

.../Keychains (folder)


I arrived at this with a fair amount of trial and error. I had backed up my old user folder (all the folders, including the Library folder) with both Time Machine and a manual copy. I played around with these on a separate, dummy user account (so I could delete it and have my nice, pristine, clean install still there once I figured it out). Finally, let me also say - BAD on you Apple for making this so complicated. Email software is one of those things that should remain elegant, even at the architecture level. Quit complicating things.

Question marked as Helpful

Dec 7, 2016 7:41 AM in response to maxmaxie In response to maxmaxie

The answer is in this thread if you combine all tips that were given


Starting with


for Internet Accounts

.../Accounts (folder) (DO NOT FORGET THIS ONE)


for Mail

.../Mail (folder)

.../Mail Downloads (folder)

.../Containers/com.apple.mail (folder)

.../Preferences/com.apple.accounts.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.accountsd.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.mail-shared.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.MailMigratorService.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail-com.apple.mail.vipsenders.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail.plist (file)


for Keychain

.../Keychains (folder)


Furthermore change all permissions of the above from read only (ore worse like forbidden) to read and write

I migrated the files via thunderbolt from a macbook pro to another macbook pro Updated Sierra to new Sierra.

Several days and lots of failed attempts

Finally I did a fresh install and changed the username and account name of the new macbook pro to excactly the same as the old one in the hope that I would not have to check permissions on all the files


Still it didn't work until I transfered ../Accounts (folder)


Transfering in the sense of replacing.


bets of luck. It can be done (no idea about different OS transfers

Question marked as Helpful

Mar 20, 2016 3:51 PM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

Hi,


I don't suppose you have any advice for someone moving mail from Mountain Lion to a brand new MacBook Air running El Capitan? I haven't been able to access my Time Machine backups from the new computer so far, and it sounds like importing from those might not work anyway. Setting up my accounts and rules from scratch on the new machine wouldn't be a problem, just a hassle. But I have a lot of mailboxes on the Mountain Lion Macbook that I'd like to transfer over to the new El Capitan machine if possible, and I'm not sure how to proceed. Sorry to bug you, and I wish Apple had some official help available for this.

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Question marked as Helpful

Nov 6, 2015 7:27 AM in response to maxmaxie In response to maxmaxie

This is tricky, but I just figured it out. I'm surprised Apple doesn't have good documentation on this. The trick lies in TWO things - migrating both your Apple Mail Items AND the Internet Account Items. Before Yosemite, your email accounts were all contained in the Apple Mail folders. However, now they have been separated so if you JUST manually migrate the Apple Mail stuff, without the Internet Accounts, then Mail will open and you'll just get your a nakedn iCloud Inbox that will start to load your most recent emails. Also, it helps to copy the Keychain folder over so you don't have to re-enter all your passwords (in Mail or other places as well).


These are the files you need to copy over from your user's Library folder:


for Internet Accounts

.../Accounts (folder)


for Mail

.../Mail (folder)

.../Mail Downloads (folder)

.../Containers/com.apple.mail (folder)

.../Preferences/com.apple.accounts.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.accountsd.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.mail-shared.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.MailMigratorService.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail-com.apple.mail.vipsenders.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail.plist (file)


for Keychain

.../Keychains (folder)


I arrived at this with a fair amount of trial and error. I had backed up my old user folder (all the folders, including the Library folder) with both Time Machine and a manual copy. I played around with these on a separate, dummy user account (so I could delete it and have my nice, pristine, clean install still there once I figured it out). Finally, let me also say - BAD on you Apple for making this so complicated. Email software is one of those things that should remain elegant, even at the architecture level. Quit complicating things.

Nov 6, 2015 7:27 AM

Reply Helpful (36)

Nov 6, 2015 8:31 AM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

I haven't tried this yet... but wow if you are correct. Sounds like you did your homework!!


So - you had to move the entire com.apple.mail folder within containers? - I used to just move the com.apple.pst file and the mail downloads folder from here...


I looked around another Yosemite computer just now...


I don't see the following items you list:

.../Preferences/com.apple.accounts.plist (file)

.../Preferences/com.apple.MailMigratorService.plist (file)

.../SyncedPreferences/com.apple.mail.plist (file)


Is this a concern? - not sure why you have them and I don't...


Regarding the keychains folder - I love the idea of moving this one so as not to have to re-enter many passwords... but in the past this wasn't possible and/or gave many other issues when moving between computers... login keychain issues, etc. - what is your experience with this?


I have spent so many hours testing this manual email move for a client who just got new computers. I also reached out to most of the 'gurus' on Apple Mail that I know who are extremely knowledgeable on Apple Mail. What was so strange was that everyone gave the response to just use the migration tool. I guess they don't work for other clients like I do. Just using the migration tool is so the wrong answer... What if the client just got a small Macbook and only wants to move his email data from a bigger desktop? Not everyone is completely iMAP!!


I hope to hear from you further. This is really exciting and helpful!!


THANKS!!

Nov 6, 2015 8:31 AM

Reply Helpful (3)

Nov 6, 2015 8:06 PM in response to maxmaxie In response to maxmaxie

Not sure about those files. I went with the broadest possible brush, so if you don't have them, them might not be relevant. Let me know how it goes! I really am surprised there isn't more documentation about this. Migration Assistant is a piece of garbage. New system - manual recreation is the way to go.

Nov 6, 2015 8:06 PM

Reply Helpful (3)

Nov 6, 2015 8:40 PM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

I Tried your method today for a client coming from a Mavericks mac. Sadly it didn't work.


Does this only work when coming from Yosemite?


it said upgrading data twice and took some time yet there was no email and no accounts anywhere.


Thoughts?

Nov 6, 2015 8:40 PM

Reply Helpful

Nov 6, 2015 9:02 PM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

What does apple expect people to do migrating from Mavericks? I suppose a trip to Yosemite first.

I had not setup iCloud yet for this user but there wasn't a single account visible. The V3 folder was packed with email of course but no accounts populated.


I will move her email to yosemite Mac first then try your method.


Sure hope it works. I too am surprised there isn't more on this topic in the forums.

Nov 6, 2015 9:02 PM

Reply Helpful

Nov 18, 2015 3:11 PM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

UPDATE: If you follow my solution above, you may find that your emails all transfer but that searching is isn't working properly. This is because mail needs to re-index the imported mail folders. To do so, go to .../Library/Mail/V3/MailData/ and delete all files starting with "Envelope index". There are probably 3-5 of them. Then launch mail again and it will start reimporting all your mail all over, but this time, it will build a full index of all your messages as you do so, so the search function works properly (ie: doesn't ignore certain emails or all emails beyond a certain date). Hope this helps.

Nov 18, 2015 3:11 PM

Reply Helpful (1)

Nov 29, 2015 9:23 AM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

Sadly, this didn't work for me either...

I'm have a bear of a time. I recently upgraded my "old" MBP to El Capitan, and then got a "new" MBP that I decided to do a fresh install.

I haven't been able to switch to the new computer because I can't figure out how to get my email switched over.


This is really driving me crazy, and I can not believe there aren't "real" instructions somewhere on how to do this.

Nov 29, 2015 9:23 AM

Reply Helpful

Dec 1, 2015 7:15 PM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

Do i need to copy of keychain if i am using Icloud Keychain, as this should sync up the new computer automatically i assume with the relevant passwords?

Sidetracking here a bit but all documentations seem to suggest Migration tools for things like contacts etc . But whats wrong with using icloud sync ?

Dec 1, 2015 7:15 PM

Reply Helpful

Mar 12, 2016 11:21 AM in response to nikw9944 In response to nikw9944

I've been trying to transfer Mail from one desktop machine with El Cap to my MBook Air also running El Cap. Total nighmare.


Done as suggested above manually moving the files across including the ~/library/accounts folder. The only accounts that appear in Mail are those that were there prior to the move even though I've overwritten all the previous information. Or at least I thought I had. I think the mailboxes are there but Mail is not recognising them.


I've even tried setting up 'new' mailboxes but for some reason the mail server doesn't recognise the password even though it is correct since it's the same one I use on the Desktop.


Has anyone any other ideas as this is really driving me crazy. Other posters are right - it really shouldn't be this difficult.

Mar 12, 2016 11:21 AM

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Mar 12, 2016 11:30 PM in response to Chris Walker In response to Chris Walker

Given that so many people appear to be having difficulty migrating Mail from one machine to another, I would have thought that an Applescript/Automator Guru could knock up a small app to make the process as simple as possible.


It might mean that you have to re-input your passwords for each account but it would at least simplify the process.

Mar 12, 2016 11:30 PM

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Question marked as Helpful

Mar 20, 2016 3:51 PM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

Hi,


I don't suppose you have any advice for someone moving mail from Mountain Lion to a brand new MacBook Air running El Capitan? I haven't been able to access my Time Machine backups from the new computer so far, and it sounds like importing from those might not work anyway. Setting up my accounts and rules from scratch on the new machine wouldn't be a problem, just a hassle. But I have a lot of mailboxes on the Mountain Lion Macbook that I'd like to transfer over to the new El Capitan machine if possible, and I'm not sure how to proceed. Sorry to bug you, and I wish Apple had some official help available for this.

Mar 20, 2016 3:51 PM

Reply Helpful (7)

Mar 21, 2016 10:56 AM in response to apple_mikey In response to apple_mikey

This worked for me. I trasfered 52GB of data (4GB were attachments) and somewhere around 10 internet accounts. I did have to make sure permissions were set correctly on each file/folder I copied over. Had to specificially set preferences individually to read/write. Thanks apple_Mikey

Mar 21, 2016 10:56 AM

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User profile for user: maxmaxie

Question: Manual Mail Migration