Mac Tip: Where On My Hard Drive Are E-Mails Stored?

Posted in How To on 18/04/2012 by Mark Greentree


This Mac tip is provided by Mark Greentree and was originally posted on Mark’s blog – Everyday Mac Support. For more of Mark’s tips visit his site, follow him on Twitter, or browse his archive of posts here.

How to: Find My Emails Stored On My Hard Drive

If you wanted to backup only your emails stored on your Mac how would you go about locating the master files?

It is slightly hidden but by following these steps you will be able to easily locate your stored mail and associated folders directly on your hard drive.

From the Finder, navigate to the ‘GO’ menu in the Menu Bar at the top of your display. Then when the menu drops down press the ‘Option’ key on your keyboard. This will then present the hidden ‘Library’ option. Highlight and select ‘Library’.

The Library window for all your applications will open. Look for a folder titled ‘Mail’. ‘Mail Downloads’ is also located in this folder. That folder contains all attachments to your emails. If you remove, delete, or rename any of these they will no longer link to your email.

Going back now to the ‘Mail’ folder, double click to open and you will see a folder called ‘V2’. Open this folder also. You will now be presented with folders for your email accounts, any mailboxes you may have setup in mail, and RSS feeds if you use Mail for RSS (Really Simple Syndication).

Within these folders is the data of your stored email and mailboxes.

Navigate through the folders and you will notice when you open a .mbox folder that you can drill down and perform a quick view directly in the finder of stored emails by pressing the spacebar.

Please note some files may not be readable in applications other than the Mail app.

This tip is for Mac OS X Lion 10.7 users. In Snow Leopard or previous versions of the operating system the Library folder was not hidden hence the additional hold down Option key step is not necessary.

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  • Pranav


  • dabor

    thx a lot…!!!

  • Shelley

    I have an iMac in Pennsylvania and a MacBook Pro in Florida. OS 10.6 was on both machines. I was able to keep my Apple mail on both the same by copying the Mail folder (~/Library/Mail and the mail preference ( from one machine to the other.

    Now I have a new iMac in Pennsylvania running OS 10.8.4 and everything has changed. I followed instructions to select Go to reveal the drop-down
    menu and then hold down the Option key to make the ~/Library
    folder appear. However, the mailboxes stored on my Mac on the new iMac don’t go to the Florida machine running 10.6.

    Can you help?

  • Loren

    wonderful, thank you so much for sharing this information, On the other hand, do you know the reason they hide this library ? I was used to finding the library in the older operation system and it wasted me a great deal of time until reading your article

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  • Dennis

    Okay, how about this. I have emails saved on my Mail program on my old Mac running OS 10.7. It bit the big one.I have a new one coming but I need the email off that old hard drive. Or at least the information. I have the equipment to connect the hard drive itself to my new one so it’ll show up as a drive. Where do I go to find my email?

  • joe smith

    What an absolutely @ssine place to put the emails.


Mark Greentree

Mark Greentree is the principle blogger and podcast creator of Everyday Mac Support. His aim is to inform users at all levels of experience how to get the most out of the Apple hardware and associated software. He is the lead host of Not Another Mac Podcast, an Apple based round table discussion with Mac users and experts from all over world.