I'm using Mail.app + IMAP email accounts for my email. I want to be able to archive all my email and make them searchable.

Currently I copy the previous month's email from my IMAP folders to local folders called 2010, 2011, etc. However I don't copy my Sent email, so I'm wondering what's the best way to archive them as well. Any suggestions? Please share!

I'd like a method that doesn't involve Gmail if possible, as I'm not a big fan of the company and the service.

  • Are you talking about what version of OS X? Sep 15, 2011 at 0:54
  • I'm on 10.7 Lion
    – blogjunkie
    Sep 15, 2011 at 4:09
  • A further question to this if I may. Is mail.app's archive independent to the IMAP email account? In that if all emails were archived and the IMAP account removed from mail.app, the archived emails would still be available.
    – user18417
    Feb 8, 2012 at 13:50

5 Answers 5


I use Mail app's "smart mailboxes" instead of copying and moving the actual messages in Mail. For example, to archive July 2011:

  1. create a new smart mailbox,
  2. name it "Mail Archive July 2011" or whatever,
  3. set the find criteria to "Date Received is in the date range 1 Jul 2011 to 31 Jul 2011",
  4. you will probably want to check the "Include messages from Sent"
  5. Hit okay and in a moment you have a folder contain all of July's email
  6. Right-click the smart mailbox and choose the "Archive" option and save.

After this you have the option of keeping the smart folder or deleting it. Spotlight (in OS 10.6.8) searches the .mbox archives Mail produces, so your archive remains searchable.

  • This doesn't really work with Exchange accounts -- the Archive folder is created on the remote server, negating any space-saving. Jan 15, 2013 at 0:52

I've recommended MailSteward to several clients. It maintains a separate SQLite (or MySQL in the "pro" version) database of archived messages. It handles de-duping too. Messages are searchable, attachments are stored and you can reply to archived messages. (Reply will open in Mail.)


Basically, I always BCC to myself, so never archive the Sent folder.

  • When you BCC yourself, doesn't that clutter up your inbox? Do you have some rules to help manage it?
    – blogjunkie
    Aug 14, 2011 at 5:03

Since you're in OS X Lion, the best way to "Archive" a message is perhaps using the integrated (new) way to Archive: Y

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  • 2
    And what does it do in practice ? .. Where are stored archived messages? How can they searched and restored? Thanks
    – drAlberT
    Sep 6, 2012 at 16:25
  • @AlberT they go to the "Archive" folder. I'm sure that restoring is only a matter of moving them back to where you want them. Yes you can search, the archive is a folder. It just moves the messages out of the way. Sep 7, 2012 at 1:46
  • For the record, the Archive folder is remote if you're using an Exchange server. I understand the behaviour is different for different account types -- a regular POP account will have a local Archive, for example. Jan 15, 2013 at 0:53

There are many options, but I recommend the module archiving emails OpenKM. Because allows us to use the repository as a document management system to store messages massively. The mail file is an automated process for the preservation and protection of all emails.

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