I have a Mail setup with four mail accounts, quite some rules and signatures associated with my different accounts. Now I like to have the same Mail setup on another Mac. Both are running El Capitan.

In early OSX Days it was just a copy of ~/Library/Preferences/..mail..somethingand ~/Library/ApplicationSupport/Mail. This is no longer the case. Now my question: How do I copy a Mail setup to a different computer of which both are running El Capitan.

In the even more earlier days we even had mail account config synchronisation via iCloud on multiple macs. Apple pulled that feature and never re-introduced it.

2 Answers 2


I am answering my own question. I know it is possible to transfer user data from one mac to another by using the migration assistant. In my case this does not apply because I only want to copy my complex Mail setup and no other data and config.

After some experiments I found the following to be working:

  1. On your destination Mac in SystemPreferences/Sharing activate File Sharing
  2. Important: Log out of your user account on the destination mac.
  3. Quit Mail on your source mac if it is running.
  4. On your source mac mount your destination mac user folder.
  5. Copy ~/Library/Mail to the same location in your destination user folder
  6. Copy ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail to the same location in your destination user folder.
  7. Copy ~/Library/Accounts to the same location in your destination user folder.
  8. Restart your destination mac and log in to your User Account. When you start mail, all the accounts, signatures and rules should be present. But... Rule and signature assignments may be gone though. Check and re-assign if needed. Mail Accounts will start syncing. You may be prompted to enter your passwords again in SystemPreferences/Internet Accounts.

Update 15-07-2016

There may be a problem with smtp server definitions. In case of experiencing problems with sending email over a specific smtp server, just remove it and re-add it. The connection problem (in my case: unable to verify user or password) should be gone then.


Copy those from old to new Mac:

  • User>Library>Accounts User>Library>Containers>com.apple.mail
  • User>Library>Containers>com.apple.MailCacheDelete
  • User>Library>Containers>com.apple.MailServiceAgent
  • User>Library>Mail
  • User>Library>Preferences>com.apple.mail.plist
  • User>Library>Preferences>com.apple.mail-shared.plist
  • User>Library>Preferences>com.apple.mail.plist.lockfile

Works under 10.14.x Mojave and Apple Mail 12.1.

Make sure to keep Apple Mail 12.1 closed while transferring and open it again when finish.

Saver way: Save all files before

  • Setting this up in rsync commands has finally worked for me. AND it seems to still work with V7 Mail.app on Catalina (5/2023). Commented May 10, 2023 at 13:37

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