Can I use Mac Mail.app as a searchable archive of emails stored locally? How can I set this up?

I use Gmail as my primary email and interface. I'm out of space. I have mac Mail.app linked with Gmail, so all my messages are there but I don't use that as an interface. I want to archive the messages in Mac Mail as one or multiple year files in a way that they remain searchable and then remove them from Google to free up space, without removing them from my Mac Mail archives. In the event I needed to search a message from say 2010, I'd like to be able to open up Mac Mail and search there if it is no longer on the Gmail server.

How would you set this up please? Sincere thanks for any ideas.


You could create local folders inside the Mail App and transfer the mails from your inbox into these folders. To do so, open the Mail App and select inbox (at the top menu bar), then navigate to new inbox. You will get a new pop-up window asking you where to create the new inbox/folder (here you want to make sure it is set to local). You can also set a name, e.g. for your use case 2019 for all emails from 2019.

  • Thank you, this works well, to do what I want. Just a few further notes that may help others: 1) Once you create local folders 'On my Mac' in Apple Mail and move emails into them, they will be simultaneously be moved to the Bin in your linked Gmail, because the IMAP protocol syncs them in this way 2) The .mbox files for backup or migration can be accessed in your Library>Mail folder – Aubrey Jan 19 at 13:11
  • 3) The answer to this question outlines a good method for archiving by year using smart mailboxes that can then moved into mailboxes 'On my Mac' apple.stackexchange.com/questions/21470/… – Aubrey Jan 19 at 13:11

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