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3.5.1   Importing Mail From Apple Mail

Archiving messages from Apple Mail to EagleFiler can speed up Mail and also create a safe offline backup of your messages, as Time Machine backups normally don’t include the full contents of all your messages in Mail.

The recommended way to import from Apple Mail is to select some messages or mailboxes and press the capture key. (By default this is the F1 key, but depending on your Mac’s keyboard settings you may need to press fn-F1.) EagleFiler will copy the entire message (including attachments) to its library, along with the message status and flagged indicators from Mail and any keywords, projects, and notes from MailTags.

Note: On macOS 10.14 and later, the first time you press the capture key you will need to grant EagleFiler Full Disk Access.

By default, EagleFiler imports a single selected message as a .eml message file and multiple selected messages as a mailbox file. Please see the Importing Mail section for more information about these formats.

Importing Multiple Mailboxes

To import multiple whole mailboxes at once, first select the mailboxes in Mail’s sidebar. (Make sure that no messages are selected.) You can either Command-click to select individual mailboxes or select a whole range of mailboxes by clicking on the first one and then Shift-clicking on the last one. Once the mailboxes are selected, use the Edit ‣ Select All command to select all the messages (or make sure that none are selected). Then press EagleFiler’s capture key. It will import all the messages in the mailboxes, as well as any submailboxes.

Importing Message Files

To import multiple messages as individual .eml files instead of as mailbox files, capture one message at a time or use the Import From Apple Mail script. You can also drag and drop individual messages from Mail to EagleFiler. Unlike using the capture key, this will not import message metadata or MailTags into EagleFiler.

Note: It is not recommended to drag multiple messages at once, as on some versions of macOS only the first message will be sent to EagleFiler. There are also some cases where Mail may not save the dragged message to disk, and thus EagleFiler will not be able to import it. You can work around both of these issues by importing using the capture key or by dragging first to the Finder and then from Finder to EagleFiler.

Importing Mailbox Hierarchies

Another way to import from Apple Mail is to drag and drop folders or mailboxes from the Finder. This makes it possible to import whole hierarchies of mail. The mailboxes are stored in the folder:


(See How can I open the Library folder?.) Inside the V10 (or other V# folder for previous versions of macOS) is a folder for each account (named with a UUID or your e-mail address, and inside the account folder a folder for each mailbox.

When importing .mbox folders from Mail, you generally do not want to import via the To Import folder or the Files folder, as this would prevent EagleFiler from converting the mail to the standard mbox format. It is better to drag and drop to the Dock icon or into EagleFiler’s window, or to use the capture key from the Finder.

On macOS 10.14 and later, the first time you import from Mail’s folder you will need to grant EagleFiler Full Disk Access.

Importing via Mail’s File Menu

Yet another way to import from Apple Mail is to use Mail’s File ‣ Save As… menu command. This works even if EagleFiler is not running, and you can select anywhere in The Files Folder or the The To Import Folder to save the file. Be sure to choose Raw Message Source from the Format pop-up menu. If a single message is selected, Mail will save it in .eml format. If multiple messages are selected (and you have macOS 10.12 or later), Mail will save them in mbox format. For larger mailboxes, it may initially look like the save didn’t happen, but Mail will eventually create the file.

Importing Attachments

EagleFiler tries to import complete messages, including any attached files. For messages downloaded from POP mail servers or stored in local (On My Mac) mailboxes, this should always succeed because Mail stores the attachment data with the message. For messages from IMAP and Exchange mail servers, the attachment data may or may not have been downloaded to your Mac.

You can tell Mail that you want it to download the attachments to your Mac. To do this, go to the Accounts pane of Mail’s settings and (for each account) tell it to download the attachments:

Note that this is advisory, and Mail may not always store all the attachments on your Mac, especially if disk space is running low. If you try to import a message whose attachments have not been downloaded, EagleFiler will report a Missing Apple Mail Attachment error and import only the non-attachments parts of the message. This is good because it alerts you to a message that needs to be fully downloaded. After following the instructions below to download the message, you can try the import again. Then you’ll end up with a complete offline copy of the message, whereas a Time Machine backup would only contain the parts of the message that Mail was currently caching.

Missing Messages and Attachments

When importing from Apple Mail, EagleFiler may report a Missing Apple Mail Messages or Missing Apple Mail Attachment error. This indicates that the message had not been fully downloaded to your Mac. You should tell Mail to download the messages and then try the import again. There are several ways to do this:

Importing Conversations

If you have View ‣ Organize by Conversation checked, Mail behaves differently depending on whether you have Use classic layout checked in the Viewing settings.

To import both sides of a conversation, Command-click in the mailbox list to select the Sent mailbox as well as the mailbox containing the received messages. Then Mail’s conversation view will show both types of messages in the list. You may also find it helpful to use a smart mailbox to display related messages from different mailboxes, and then capture from the smart mailbox.

Importing an entire mailbox is much simpler. You can always use Edit ‣ Select All to select all the messages, regardless of whether Mail is in conversation mode or which triangles are expanded.

Importing Only Newer Messages

If you’ve previously imported some messages from Mail and now want to do a new import without creating additional copies of the old messages, there are several options:

Importing New Mail Messages Automatically

It’s most efficient to import messages in bulk from Apple Mail, as described above. However, you can also set up a rule in Mail that uses the Import From Apple Mail script to automatically import each new message into EagleFiler as soon as Mail receives it.

Apple Mail “.mbox” Mailboxes

Apple Mail stores its mail in two types of folders whose names end with .mbox, however neither of these uses the actual mbox format:

Capturing When Mail Is Busy

In order to safely read Apple Mail’s message data, Mail should not be in the process of downloading messages from the server or moving them between mailboxes when you press the capture key.

macOS 10.12 and macOS 10.11: You can look in the Activity pane at the bottom of the mailbox list to make sure that Mail is idle. EagleFiler will report an error if it tries to import an e-mail message that was not completely written to disk.

macOS 10.10 and earlier: EagleFiler will report an error if Mail is busy. The Activity window is a more accurate measure of this than the Mail Activity pane in Mail’s main viewer window. If you press the capture key and EagleFiler detects that Mail is busy, it will suggest that you try again later. You can click Cancel and wait until Mail has finished downloading mail or use the Mailbox menu to take it offline. You can also click Capture Anyway to proceed if you know that Mail is not doing anything with the messages that you had asked it to capture.

apple mail activity

Duplicate Messages

When importing from Apple Mail, EagleFiler automatically skips a message if it is an exact duplicate of another message in the same mailbox that is currently being imported. Thus, it can be normal for the mailbox in EagleFiler to show fewer messages than the mailbox in Apple Mail. When EagleFiler skips a message, it includes a line in the note of the imported mailbox to tell you this.

Gmail and “All Mail”

When importing from a Gmail account in Apple Mail, the messages may end up in an EagleFiler mailbox called All Mail, even if you had selected the messages in a mailbox of a different name. This happens because the message exists in both mailboxes on the Gmail server, and Apple Mail sometimes saves space by only storing a single copy of the message. It tells EagleFiler that the message is in All Mail, since that’s where it’s storing the message, so that’s the mailbox name EagleFiler uses. You can prevent this from happening by configuring Gmail not to show the All Mail mailbox in Apple Mail:

  1. In Gmail, click on the gear menu at the top right and select Settings.
  2. Click on Labels (which is next to General at the top of the screen).
  3. In the System labels section, uncheck Show in IMAP on the line for All Mail.

When capturing a Gmail message, you may get an error saying that EagleFiler couldn’t find the All Mail mailbox on disk. This happens for a related reason, that Mail is choosing to only store the message in the non-archive mailbox. Hiding All Mail from IMAP will also fix this problem. Or, you can copy the messages to an On My Mac Apple Mail mailbox before capturing them or choose Mailbox ‣ Export Mailbox… and then import the exported file into EagleFiler.

Mail Perspectives

If you have a Mail Perspectives window open (and it’s frontmost), EagleFiler will capture the selected messages from that window, rather than from the regular viewer window.

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