How to Find Where Apple Mail Stores Emails on Your Mac

You may want to copy or back up your messages

What to Know

  • For OS X Mail versions 2 and above: from Finder, press Option and select Go, select Library > Mail, and find the current mail folder.
  • For Mac OS X Mail version 1: go to Finder > Home > Library/Mail.

This article explains how to find and access all your stored Mail email files in all versions of Apple OS X Mail.

Person finding attachments on a Mac
Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire 

How to Access Stored OS X Mail

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.

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.

  • How do I create a new folder in Mail for my Mac?

    In the Mailboxes list, next to Folders, select the plus (+) symbol and type in a name for the new folder, then press Return to confirm.

  • Where is the Junk folder in Mail?

    If you can't locate the Junk folder in Mail, look in the column on the left side of the screen and select the plus (+) symbol next to Favorites, then select Junk.

  • How do I move emails to a different folder in Mail?

    Click and drag the emails you want to move directly into the folder you want on the left-hand sidebar to move them. Alternately, open the message you want to move and select Move To, then choose the folder you want to move the email to.

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