I recently replaced the HDD in my mid-2012 MacBook Pro with an SSD. After doing a clean install of OS X Sierra, I wanted to get my old notes from the backup copy of my old HDD. After some research I found that the data is stored in "/Library/Containers/com.apple.notes....". I've tried to copy this data to my current ssd, but notes doesn't recognise this data when I open the application.

I just want to access the text in the notes and transfer it. I'm not fussed about preserving the original structure of the notes.

Please someone help me! those notes are really important to me!

  • Is your old notes data also from an installation of macOS Sierra? Also, how are you copying the data across?
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 2:03

3 Answers 3


You should be able to recover your notes data from a Time Machine backup as follows:

  • Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu
  • Use the timeline (it's on the edge of the screen) to locate a version of the Notes storage folder from before your clean installation of macOS Sierra. (The location should be ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library/Notes/ where the '~' indicates your user account home folder)
  • Select the folder and click on Restore to restore it

If you haven't got a TM backup or want to try recovering the data from your HDD, see below.

Extracting notes data from your HDD

If you haven't got a TM backup or can't get it to restore from one, you can manually extract the data using a web browser (e.g. Safari, Etc).

To do this:

  1. Go to the location on your HDD that is equivalent to the following path: ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library/Notes/

  2. Inside this folder you'll see files with names such as NotesV6.storedata

  3. Copy these files to another location on your SSD

  4. Add a .html extension to each of them. (Note: You will be prompted as to whether you're sure you want to use the .html extension - click on the Use .html button).

  5. Use Safari or another web browser to open the NotesV6.storedata.html file first (it may not be 'V6' in your case, but it will be 'V' followed by a number)

  6. You should now see your missing notes

  7. Now go through the process of copying and pasting the data into new notes and saving them

If any of your notes are missing after going through the above steps, repeat Step 5 and open the other files you copied across at step 3 to see if your missing notes are there.

Let me know if you run into problems.

  • I believe the OP clearly states they tried to retrieve the notes folder from a backup but it's not being recognized as valid. At this point a helpful answer would be to extract the data from whatever format they're in, if that's even possible.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 5:44
  • @tubedogg Thanks for keeping me honest! :) I've updated my answer to offer a second solution.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 6:52

In case if anyone is not able to find notes in the files mentioned @ ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Notes/Data/Library/Notes/, Please check @ ~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes/NoteStore.sqlite. Adding .html extension may not work, Instead you have to open this file in sqlite browser to get the data. ZICNOTEDATA table will contain all the data. You can write normal SQL query to get the data

  • You should try editing your answer to make it clearer where 'the above location' is. I think you're talking about the other answer on the question but a good answer should be able to stand on its own a bit more. After all, it's possible that your answer could move above the it is voted up enough!
    – Robin
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 13:02
  • @Anbu Thanks for good information. So NoteStore.sqlite has all the notes data ? I installed sqlite browser how i can view each row data ? can i export all the notes from sqlite browser to pc as text file or html file ? How ? Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:57
  • 1
    @user1788736 Yes. NoteStore.sqlite has all the notes data. Simple query to get the notes data is SELECT ZDATA from ZICNOTEDATA. This gives the list of rows contains all the data but with BLOB data type. I am not sure about best way to find BLOB to Text conversion. But in my use case, if I click a BLOB, it shows the save option in the Edit Database cell widget. Save the BLOB as bin format (This exports a zip file). Extract the zip and open the file in any editor (default TextEdit app is fine). This showed me the texts that i have entered previously.
    – Anbu
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 11:57
  • i can confirm this works on macos catalina, i just copied both folders from the external drive to the ~/Library/Container and Group Container, opened the Notes.app and All previous notes are instantly available again. without the need of sqlite. both are from the same catalina versions. thanks
    – user65535
    Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 5:22

For anyone still looking for solution here is steps. These steps worked for me. I upgraded HDD to SSD

  1. Connect external drive to laptop

  2. In finder go to external drive(from where you want to restore) in my case it was - /Volumes/{{Drive}}/Users/{{User}}/Library - If you do not see Library folder try to show hidden file and folders(cmd+shift+.)

  3. In another finder open library path(/Volumes/{{Drive}}/Users/{{User}}/Library) but this time laptop disk not external.

  4. Copy these files from external drive to laptop Containers/com.apple.Notes Containers/com.apple.Notes.datastore Containers/com.apple.Notes.HTMLConverter Containers/com.apple.Notes.Notesimporter into laptop drive in same same path /Volumes/{{Drive}}/Users/{{User}}/Library

  5. Now copy from Group Container Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes Group Containers/group.com.apple.notes.import

Open Notes app you will be able to see Notes exactly same as old disk.

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