After a few days of using El Capitan I decided to do a clean install today.
As always I backed up ~/Library/Mail and put it back after the clean install.

When I opened Mail after that, there were no accounts, no local mailboxes, no mail!

Since the I tried to restore every file that could be associated with Mail I could find from a TimeMachine backup:


Nothing has changed from that.

My Mails and Mailboxes are located in:


My Accounts are stored in the only file left in V2:


But Mail seems to ignore the whole ~/Library/Mail folder. Any ideas what I could do?

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2 Answers 2


I decided to restore my mails by hand. That took me a few hours, but now I am back to normal.

Here is what I did:

  1. Import every local mailbox from the backup
  2. Clean up the mail boxes (Cryptic folders were generated inside every mailbox)
  3. Add the POP accounts.
  4. Write mails from there to get a dedicated "send" folder for each account.
  5. Put the imported mails in the appropriate location (inbox, drafts, sent)
  6. Add the IMAP accounts.

What I realized after going through all those steps, is that the accounts inside of ~/Library/Mail/V3 are not named by there account names anymore. Instead the consist of a cryptic combination of numbers and characters. Maybe that was the cause why Mail did not import anything.

My guess is, that accounts are now referenced by a number/character-code out of security reasons. However, that leaves me wondering how to do a proper backup of mail for a clean install.


What you should do is go to the V3 folder go to Maildata.Open the folder and remove all items except for syncedrules.plist Than close mail and reopen it. Next it should start importing all your mail folders and boxes.

  • Nope, did not work :( After restarting it just shows me a "Create a Account" dialog. But it does create some files in the Maildata folder. But not a Account.plist file
    – velop
    Nov 6, 2015 at 10:31

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