I recently upgraded from a 7-year-old MacBook, and I have been trying to transfer the imessage history to my new macbook with little success.

Does anyone know if this is still possible on the new Mac OS?

I have been digging through forums and have tried all suggestions to no avail. I've replaced the new laptop's messages folder, did the same with the ichat containers, and also changed all folder ownership. Still, whenever I open up iMessage, it only shows my messages from today and yesterday.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

  • Why not run migration assistant to move the old user over? You can’t merge databases, but if you have no user account on the new Mac, you should be able to migrate all data then sign in to iCloud if you choose that to merge messages. This lacks a little detail on if one iCloud account is in play between the two Macs and if this is just a migrate or a merge. – bmike Apr 25 '20 at 16:00
  • @bmike Thanks for the response. So to clarify, there is only iCloud account at play here. On my old computer, the messages dated back to 2013 and were stored locally vs in icloud. I initially used migration assistant thinking it would be simplest, but the message archive didn't appear. So I reset the computer, set it up as a new laptop, and tried manually pulling the archive history from the old HD into the respective folders on my new mac. – Mina Apr 25 '20 at 16:10
  • Oh no, so you already did the thing that’s supposed to work. If you’re willing to reset one more time, want me to put an answer how I would try next? I can’t reproduce it, but it might help someone that’s not as good as you at getting this started and it might help you too. – bmike Apr 25 '20 at 16:17
  • The backups should be located within ~/Library/Messages, though I'm not sure how that would work in regards to using iCloud. – At0mic Apr 25 '20 at 23:45

Since your message archive didn’t migrate the first time, I would do this:

  1. Connect a hard drive to the old mac and let Time Machine make one backup - you can configure it to skip large files if you have lots of videos and photos you know can transfer, and you can delete any large apps you know you won’t want to back up or migrate - so light cleaning before one backup.
  2. Then - see if you can update the old OS - I would update it to the absolute latest since that will do two things. First is it runs migration to make the older data ready for newer OS. Second, it makes the migration assistant newer so you’re not bringing data from 7 years back OS to the latest.
  3. Erase your new Mac (back up any files needed) and re-run the migration from the updated Mac or a second backup of the upgraded Mac if you want.

I use the PhoneView app to manage messages on macOS so that might be an option if Apple can’t update and migrate the data with their normal tools.

It’s targeted at managing messages from macOS, but the free trial might show you if it will help manage / archive your messages in a meaningful way on the mac side. I’m sure someone knows forensically how to parse the database files, but that needs some special work based on your exact macOS version. Maybe someone with that skill will see this and answer how to directly open the files from ~/Library on the old mac and then transform them / process it to load from the newer macOS app.

  • 1
    Thanks so much. I'll give it a try – Mina Apr 25 '20 at 17:16

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