My Apple Mail email client is a chaos nowadays. There are numerous emails, all unorganized. I need to clean it up a bit and organize the emails in segments. Before I do that I need to backup my Apple Mail email database so that when I organize I don't loose any email and if I did I can retrieve it from the backup I will create.

Does anyone have a solution for backing up Apple Mail email database. I am looking for a quick and handy solution, not the export function. That takes up ages to export the emails.

  • 2
    Assuming that you're talking about Apple Mail on a Mac, then your Time Machine backups automatically backup all your data, including emails. You do have Time Machine backing up your data, right?
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 2:35
  • Your email quantity is your email quantity. If you have tonnes of it, it will take time to back it up or export it, there's no way around that.
    – Harv
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 2:59
  • Rather than -1 or comment why, I'll answer that disregarding export is probably not in your interest.
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 3:17
  • A similar question was asked here, have a look: http://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/254258/selective-backup-in-apple-mail-email-client Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 22:06

2 Answers 2


In mail.app, you can select a folder and from the main menu choose ‘Mailbox > Export Mailbox’, select a location for the export file and click ‘choose’. Mail exports the mailbox as an .mbox package.

See also this page: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH19174?locale=en_US http://www.mailbackupx.com/how-to-scenerios/how-to-backup-apple-mac-mail-mails-on-mac.html

  • Thanks for both the links, Mail Backup X gave me the perfect solution. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 9:43

Why not let the export take three days or whatever is needed? That's the safe bet if you can't afford to lose mails. Also, the longer it takes to export, the more likely you have database issues or a volume of mail that demands a redundant backup in an industry standard format.

Just like exercise, there may not be a quick and handy remedy to months of inaction. If you have years of mail, it might also be necessary to test restoring your normal backup before trusting the export. No one actually wants a backup, they ultimately hope to know they have a good restore chance.

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