I recently purchased a new 15" 2016 rMBP with TouchBar. It replaces my 15" 2015 rMBP. That system (the 2015 model) was the tail end of a chain of systems (some iMacs, some rMBPs) on which I had always done Migration Assistant to set up the new system. That system was also beginning to experience a lot of strange slow downs, beach balls, loud fan noise, etc. I suspect it's not the system hardware itself, but just years of junk piling up.

So, I'm starting fresh with my new system. I have everything set up pretty well and the new system is screaming fast. No beach balls or loud fan here yet!

Everything in iCloud Drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox has downloaded without a hitch, and I'm getting all of my programs re-installed. So far so good.

The only deficiency I have come across is with respect to the Messages app on macOS. I sign in just fine, and sending/receiving new messages works perfectly, but it has none of my message history. I can kind of understand why this would be true for SMS (non-Apple messages), but I would expect iMessage entries to be backed up through iCloud and auto-restored. But nothing is showing up.

I have seen several products online that tout the ability to export messages from an iPhone, which would work fine, since my iPhone 7 Plus has essentially all of the message history I care about. What is not clear, however, is exactly how this export process works. From what I can tell, most of these products do get the data off of the iPhone, but I want to then load/import the data into Messages for macOS, and it appears that most of these solutions just save the text message data into some kind of file (*.txt, *.pdf, etc.). I don't want to pay money for that kind of a solution.

Does anybody have experience with what I'm trying to do? I still have my old rMBP, so if there's any way to selectively back up just its Messages, and restore them to the new rMBP, that would work, too.

Any ideas?


Per @Tetsujin's comment, I started down the path of what was linked. It didn't work, though. After transferring in the folders/files, Messages looked the same as before.

It got me looking for a similar answer, however, and I was able to come across this article on iMore.

The basic gist of the article is to copy the contents of ~/Library/Messages from the Old Mac into the same directory on the New Mac.

[Insert standard "back up your stuff before doing this!" comment.]

Then, I did a reboot (which I hadn't done with the prior attempt; maybe that was the difference).


The iMore article seems to indicate that the "Archive" folder is only for conversations that have been closed, and only if you have the "Save history when conversations are closed" option checked. I did not have this option checked, and I rarely close conversations, and all of my conversations were there.

Note 2:

The folders from the original answer in Tetsujin's comment were aliases, and I don't know if they are pointing to the folders in ~/Library/Messages, but – for whatever reason – iMore's solution worked! (Perhaps it was the recommended reboot found in iMore's article.)

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