Back Up or Move Your iCal or Calendar Data to a New Mac

iCal or Calendar It Still Needs a Backup

Calendar image
Claire Cordier / Getty Images

If you use Apple's iCal or Calendar application, then you probably have a multitude of calendars and events to track. Do you maintain a backup of this important data? Time Machine doesn't count. Sure, Apple's Time Machine will back up your calendars, but restoring just your Calendar data from a Time Machine backup is not a simple process.

Luckily, Apple provides a simple solution to save your iCal or Calendar, which you can then use as backups, or as an easy way to move your calendar data to another Mac, perhaps the new iMac you just purchased.

The method I will describe allows you to save all of your Calendar data into a single archive file. By using this method, you can back up or move all of your iCal or Calendar data, regardless of how many calendars you have set up or are subscribed to, into one single file. Now that's the easy way to back up!

The backup method is slightly different if you're using Tiger (OS X 10.4), Leopard (OS X 10.5), Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), or Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) and later. I'll show you how to create the archive file in all of the versions. Oh, and one nice touch: The iCal backup archive you create in older versions can be read by later versions of iCal or Calendar.

Backing Up Calendar With OS X Mountain Lion or Later

  1. Launch Calendar by clicking its icon in the Dock, or use the Finder to navigate to /Applications, then double-click the Calendar application.
  2. From the File menu, select 'Export, Calendar Archive.'
  1. In the Save As dialog box that opens, enter a name for the archive file or use the default name provided.
  2. Use the disclosure triangle next to the Save As field to expand the dialog box. This will allow you to navigate to any location on your Mac to store the iCal archive file.
  3. Select a destination, then click the 'Save' button.

    Backing Up iCal Calendars With OS X 10.5 Through OS X 10.7

    1. Launch the iCal application by clicking its icon in the Dock, or use the Finder to navigate to /Applications, then double-click the iCal application.
    2. From the File menu, select 'Export, iCal Archive.'
    3. In the Save As dialog box that opens, enter a name for the archive file or use the default name provided.
    4. Use the disclosure triangle next to the Save As field to expand the dialog box. This will allow you to navigate to any location on your Mac to store the iCal archive file.
    5. Select a destination, then click the 'Save' button.

    Backing Up iCal Calendars With OS X 10.4 and Earlier

    1. Launch the iCal application by clicking its icon in the Dock, or use the Finder to navigate to /Applications, then double-click the iCal application.
    2. From the File menu, select 'Back Up Database.'
    3. In the Save As dialog box that opens, enter a name for the archive file or use the default name provided.
    4. Use the disclosure triangle next to the Save As field to expand the dialog box. This will allow you to navigate to any location on your Mac to store the iCal database file.
    5. Select a destination, then click the 'Save' button.

    Restoring Calendar With OS X Mountain Lion or Later

    1. Open the Calendar app on your Mac.
    1. From the File menu, select Import.
    2. In the Import dialog box that opens, navigate to the Calendar or iCal archive file you wish to import into Calendar.
    3. Select the archive file you wish to use, then click the Import button.
    4. A drop down sheet will appear warning you that the archive file you selected will be used to repalce the current content of the Calendar app and that there is no ability to undo the import function. Select cancel if you do not wish to go ahead with the data import, or click the Restore button to continue.

    Calendar will now have been updated with new data from the archive file you created earlier.

    Restoring iCal Calendars with OS X 10.5 Through OS X 10.7

    1. Launch the iCal application by clicking its icon in the Dock, or use the Finder to navigate to /Applications, then double-click the iCal application.
    2. From the File menu, select 'Import, Import.' (That's two Imports, as you have the option to also import from Entourage.).
    3. In the dialog box that opens, navigate to the iCal archive you created earlier, then click the 'Import' button.
    4. You will be asked if you wish to replace your current iCal data with the data from the selected archive. Click 'Restore.'

    That's it; you've restored your iCal calendar data.

    Restoring iCal Calendars with OS X 10.4 or Earlier

    1. Launch the iCal application by clicking its icon in the Dock, or use the Finder to navigate to /Applications, and double-click the iCal application.
    2. From the File menu, select 'Revert to Database Backup.'
    3. In the dialog box that opens, navigate to the iCal backup you created earlier, then click the 'Open' button.
    4. You will be asked if you wish to replace all of the calendar data with the data from the selected backup. Click 'Restore.'

    That's it; you've restored your iCal calendar data.

    Moving iCal Calendar Data to a New Mac

    You can easily move your iCal calendars to a new Mac by copying the calendar backup or archive file to the new Mac, then importing the file into the empty iCal application.

    Warning: If you have already created calendar entries on your new Mac, importing your old data will erase the current calendar data.