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How can I import iCal event into Lion from either an iPhone or Snow Leopard?

I have a Time Machine backup from Snow Leopard, and an iPhone, each with up-to-date iCal calendars. I have a clean Lion install with no iCal events. I would like to get the iCal in Lion up-to-date, either from Time Machine or the iPhone.

I have tried syncing the phone, but nothing happens to either device. I have tried manually moving files from Time Machine, but the Lion iCal does not recognize anything.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The best chance of success it to make a new user account and try syncing the phone to the new empty calendar. Just sync the iCal data.

Then back up the lion iCal data to one file in /Users/Shared and import that to your proper account.

Should that fail, trash that temporary user account and make another temporary admin account.

  1. Turn off time machine ( to prevent an automatic backup slowing things down )
  2. Set lion to back up to your snow leopard time machine ( stop any backup if it commences)
  3. Start iCal
  4. Browse backups from the iCal menu
  5. Restore your calendars one by one
  6. Back up calendar data to /Users/Shared
  7. Set Time Machine to your preferred destination and clean up the temporary user.
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Just found out a way to restore it, I had the same problem.

  1. In Snow Leopard or Time Machine, get your calendar files (/Users//Library/Application Support/iCal /Sources/Calendars) then exit Time machine/put the files on Lion.


    1(a) Open calendar on Snow leopard, and export a Calendar Archive to a convenient location (eg usb stick)

  2. Open Calendar on the Lion machine and export a Calendar Archive to your desktop or wherever
  3. right click the Lion / Mountain Lion .icbu file, show package contents, and then replace the "Calendar" folder with the one retrieved from Time Machine/Snow Leopard or the one that is inside the package contents of the Snow Leopard calendar .icbu file.
  4. Import the file in Calendar, and boom. Old calendars and events are back.
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Do you still have the iCal calendar on Snow Leopard? Select File > Export and then import it onto your Lion Mac, which should sync it to your iPhone.

Another easy is to sync it to your google calendar. You need an account with Google, and you may need to activate your Google calendar here:

Once that's done, just import your exported calendar into Google Calendar. Now on Lion iCal, go to iCal > Preferences > Accounts and add a new account. Type in your Google credentials and it should appear. I like this method because it can be setup on the iPhone too, for complete wireless background sync of everything.

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The following did work for me and my 16GB+ mails:

  1. Copy the following files (e.g. from your Snow Leopard backup) prior to first opening ical:
    • ~/Library/Keychains/ (folder "Keychains")
    • ~/Library/Calendars (folders "Calendars")
    • ~/Library/Preferences/* (ical preferences files,,
    • ~/Library/Preferences/iCalExternalSync.plist
  2. then open iCal in Lion...import/update will follow

If you have opened iCal prior to the above steps, these files have already been created, so you have to replace them with your backups from Snow Leopard described above

If you have set up calendar accounts in system preferences "Mail, Contacts & Calendars" you might have to delete them before applying the above steps


I'm not quite sure if the following steps are necessary (or did help me) for iCal import because MobileMe sync works now different in Lion (there isn't an option for syncing calendars anymore within System Preferences—>MobileMe)... I did a MobileMe sync in Snow Leopard (within System Preferences—>MobileMe) prior to the clean install of Lion.

  • Calendars
  • Mail Accounts
  • Mail rules, Signatures, and Smart Mailboxes
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