How to Find Where Mac OS X Mail Stores Your Emails

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OS X Mail does keep your email in .emlx files in special .mbox folders; you can find and open them in Finder.

For Backup and Knowledge

Usually, it's comforting enough for me to know that Mac OS X Mail knows where all my emails are.

But sometimes (when I want to copy my mailboxes to a different computer or want to back them up, for example) it's good to have an idea where those messages are on the hard disk.

Find and Open the Folder Where OS X Mail Stores Mail

To go to the folder that holds your OS X Mail messages:

  1. Open a new window in OS X Finder.
  2. Select Go | Go to Folder… from the menu.
    • You can also press Command-Shift-G.
  3. Type "~/Library/Mail/V3".
  4. Press Enter.

You can find your folders and messages in sub-folders to the V3 folder:

  • Local mailboxes are in the Mailboxes sub-folder.
  • POP email accounts can be found in sub-folders with POP- in their name.
  • IMAP accounts' mailboxes are in sub-folder that have IMAP- in their name.

The messages are stored in .mbox folders, one per OS X Mail email folder. Open and explore these folders to discover (and open or copy) the emails saved as .emlx files.

Find and Open the Folder Where Mac OS X Mail 5–8 Store Mail

To open the folder where Mac OS X Mail keeps your messages:

  1. Open a Finder window.
  2. Select Go | Go to Folder… from the menu.
  3. Type "~/Library/Mail/V2".
    • You can have Finder auto-complete the folder names by pressing Tab.
  1. Click OK.

Mac OS X Mail stores the mailboxes in sub-folders to the ​Mail directory, one sub-folder per account. POP accounts ​start with POP-, IMAP accounts with IMAP-.

Find and Open the Folder Where Mac OS X Mail 1-4 Store Mail

To locate the folder where Mac OS X Mail 1-4 stores mail:

  • Go to your home directory.
    • You can use the Home toolbar button or
    • select Go | Home from the menu to go home.
  • Open the Library/Mail directory.