How to Find Where Apple Mail Stores Emails on Your Mac

You may want to copy or back up your messages

Apple Mail has been the standard Mac email client since the early days of OS X. It's versatile and functional, helping users stay organized and on top of their email with a seamless experience.

The location of your stored Mail messages isn't readily apparent. They’re buried in a folder in the Library, and the archive uses a .mbox file extension. Since there may be times you want to copy your email to another computer, or even back up stored messages, here's how to find and access all your stored Mail email files.

The following includes information that applies to all versions of Apple OS X Mail.

Person finding attachments on a Mac
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

How to Access Stored OS X Mail

These instructions apply to OS X Mail versions 2 and above.

  1. Open a new Finder window or click on the desktop of your Mac.

  2. Hold down the Option key and select Go in the top menu bar.

  3. Select Library from the dropdown menu.

  4. Scroll down to find the Mail folder.

  5. You'll see some folders with a string of characters and a V with a number that indicates the Mail version number, such as V6. Find your folders and messages in subfolders of the V folder.

  6. Open and explore these folders to discover and open or copy the emails.

    Screenshot of stored Mail folders

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

  1. Open a new Finder window.

  2. Go to your home directory by using the Home toolbar button or by selecting Go > Home from the menu bar.

  3. Open the Library/Mail directory to find your emails.