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Watch for subfolders when backing up Mail messages Apps
This is not so much of a hint as a warning.

We back up and archive mail for particular projects by dragging a folder from Mail's drawer to the desktop. This folder can then be re-imported using one of the various hints on this site.

However, to my horror, we've just realised that dragging a folder out of Mail does not copy any subfolders that the folder may contain! To me, this seems really unintuitive and is not the way I would expect an Apple UI (or any UI) to work. So if you're backing up your Mail via drag-and-drop, make sure you handle any subfolders manually.
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Watch for subfolders when backing up Mail messages | 4 comments | Create New Account
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Watch for subfolders when backing up Mail messages
Authored by: lukeandrews on Oct 05, '06 08:55:58AM

Funny, I just noticed the very same thing today while transferring data from my old laptop to my new one.

What gives, Apple?!

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Watch for subfolders when backing up Mail messages
Authored by: jcmoonraker on Oct 05, '06 04:02:08PM

same is true of Entourage.

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How I backup mail messages
Authored by: sdk22 on Oct 05, '06 05:36:31PM

This is isn't the most user friendly way to backup mail, but...

If you backup up the following folders/files you will have a complete backup of your mail and the state of the program(ie which windows are open).
/Users/name/Library/Mail Downloads

I have used this several times as I move to new computers frequently and want to have all my mail from previous computers intact and easily accessible on the new computer. It should be easy to write a quick script to copy this information. I haven't done that yet, as it doesn't take much time to copy 2 folders and a file.

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Watch for subfolders when backing up Mail messages
Authored by: tomem on Oct 07, '06 11:13:20AM

Contrary to what Apple says ("always use Mail to make changes in Mail's folder structure"), their approach brings nothing but trouble and anxiety in my experience. Half the time when I even try to rename a folder, to say nothing of moving it or copying it to the desktop, it turns white. That means that the index has lost track of it, and that emails in that folder will appear "not to have been downloaded from the server", until the "Envelope Index" is discarded and rebuilt when the program starts back up without it.

I suggest that all changes in the Mail folder structure, including removing or copying mailboxes for archiving, be done with Mail not running, in the Finder. This has never given me any problems. Old mail can simply be moved back into the Mailboxes folder and Mail restarted to pick it up and present it in the main window.

Mail archiving and organization is something Apple needs to get on top of if they expect folks to use their product for more than a year or two.

Crofton, MD

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