UPDATE (25 August 2010): Please note that this post is well over 2 years old and as Tim pointed out in the comments below, this method may not be the best solution for restoring emails. According to his restore efforts, changes where made to the timestamp from the date in which they were received to the date in which they were restored. I have not tested this myself.
The hard drive on my PowerBook completely died the other day, but I luckily had been running Time Machine backups since upgrading to Leopard. (I wasn’t all that pissed off seeing as I was eager for an excuse to replace my wimpy 40Gb hard drive with a new 160Gb drive). I fumbled a bit, looking for a specific Apple Mail restore tool. I knew where all my emails lived, but I thought that Apple would have a specific means for restoring apps like Mail. So I created this mini-tutorial on how to restore Apple Mail from Time Machine simply because I could not find this method elsewhere.
Supposedly, If you attach your Time Machine backup drive, open Apple Mail then launch the Time Machine application, you are presented with historical views of Apple Mail. This did not work for me, the historical views were just blank, so the steps below do not take this approach.
Restoring Your Emails from a Time Machine Backup
Warning: If you have already setup Apple Mail with your accounts and preferences, this will negate ALL your doings.
Note: This process will restore all your email accounts, preferences, passwords, smart mailboxes, etc.
- Before loading Time Machine, open the Finder and navigate to Home Folder (username) -> Library. In there will be a folder name “Mail”. Rename it to “Mail (default)” (Select the folder then hit the Return key to rename).
- Mount your Time Machine Backup Drive (ahem, plug it in).
- Control + Click the Time Machine Application and chose “Browse Other Time Machine disks…”. This, of course, brings up the historical view of your backups.
- Go back to your most recent backup (2nd window back) and navigate to Home Folder (username) -> Library. Select the “Mail” folder and click the restore button (bottom right).
- Once the restore is completed, open Apple Mail and you will be presented with an import wizard (below). Simply follow through the prompts and you will be good to go.
UPDATE (20-January-2009): After step 4., also restore ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist
Thanks Jon C.
If you have multiple mail accounts, you should also restore the ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist file as well. This will ensure all of your account settings are imported. – Jon C.
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