In Apple Mail in MacOS High Sierra I move all old sent and received mails out of the IMAP folders into a folder that is displayed as "Local" in the sidebar:

Local MailBox

That way I archive all my old mails and remove them from the IMAP folders from the internet. Whenever I get a new Mac, I export those local folders and import them back into Mail on the new Mac. So my archive stays complete and searchable.

But Apple also has this thing called "Archive":


Which is not displayed under "Local" but its content is actually stored under local.

So what is the actual functional difference between the two, except from them having different icons?

  • Mail folder structure can vary from methods used, software & devices. It can get confusing. They are both meant for the same thing, just different locations. This may also happen with spam, trash and sent folders. To isolate the problem. Check the folder structure in settings on all your devices and any other methods you use to utilize your mail. What helps is if you send yourself a few different emails with the subject “archived via iPhone”, “archived via MacOS”, ect then go into the those devices and archive them. You will see which devices are inconsistent. This is a universal issue.
    – Theologin
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


The 'Archive' folder that Apple Mail uses with IMAP accounts is still on the IMAP server.

In short, it's just a default folder to move email to, for people who like their Inbox empty.

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