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Backup Mail Notes Apps
This hint offers a low tech solution to an all too common problem. The forums are filled with exasperated people who have lost months of notes they created in Mail after a crash, update or simple mistake.

Perhaps Apple is assuming we all have a Time Machine drive hooked up. Whatever the reason, they have not seen fit to provide a straightforward way to backup Notes.

There are two easy solutions, and while they will not update or sync in any way, at least you can recover your notes if you inadvertently lose them all.

If you have just a few notes, the first and simplest is method to make a text clipping.
  • Select all of the text in your note.
  • Click and drag the selected text onto the desktop or your backup folder.
That's it! Your note appears in the folder as a text clipping. It opens in the Finder and can be dragged back into a Note just as easily.

The second involves digging around in the Finder to find where the note files are stored. I found my Mobile Me notes in:


Substitute your own account's shortname for *username*. I then copied the Notes.imapmbox file into my backup folder.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I do have a Time Machine drive hooked up so sometimes it's too easy to forget those who don't.]
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Backup Mail Notes | 7 comments | Create New Account
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Backup Mail Notes via crontab
Authored by: FlaSheridn on Apr 18, '11 10:04:03AM

I donít think backing Notes up when you happen to think of it is safe enough. I use crontab (entries below), and sometimes even that isnít enough; my most recent data loss was only backed up on one of my two machines.

02 3 * * * /usr/bin/rsync -azt ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Notes.mbox/ /Backs/Notes_backs/Notes.mbox/

03 3 * * * /usr/bin/rsync -azt ~/Library/Mail/Mac-ęmeĽ/Notes.imapmbox/ /Backs/Notes_backs/Notes.imapmbox/

More on this at

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Backup Mail Notes
Authored by: da2357 on Apr 18, '11 11:24:39AM
This can be done manually, via cron, Automator, or with a plist. I prefer going with a .plist since Apple prefers we migrate away from cron and towards launchd items... and I think it's the quickest to set up. Using Lingon, I created a simple user plist that runs on user login with the command:

/usr/local/bin/rsync -aNHAXx --protect-args --fileflags --force-change --delete-after /Users/davidallie/Library/Mail/Mac-david.allie/Notes.imapmbox /Users/davidallie/Documents/BACKUPS/mail_notes/

In my example, I'm using a custom-compiled rsync, but any rsync will work fine. This way, it will run a backup of that folder each time the user logs in. Obviously you'd need to edit the user account name and mail folder name to match your setup, as well as where you want to store your notes backup.

I suppose you could choose to have the .plist watch the Notes.imapmbox instead and have it run a backup every time it detects a change... which I haven't tested, though should work. I personally would rather have it run it's notes backup once on each login.
Edited on Apr 18, '11 11:28:01AM by da2357

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Backup Mail Notes
Authored by: Mister Ed on Apr 18, '11 02:23:36PM

An easier way that I have been using (but not automated), is to click on "Notes" in the Sidebar of Mail. This will display only your notes in the list view. Click in the list view pane and "Select All" from the Edit menu (Command-A). You can also selectively pick individual Notes.

Then, simply drag these notes to a Finder folder, or the Desktop.
To restore the Notes, simply drag them back into Mail from the Finder.

I have used this method when I had trouble with MobileMe duplicating or destroying Notes.

(As an aside, you can also drag iCal events individually to a Finder window to make a copy of them. Unfortunately, you can't select and drag multiple iCal events to the Finder.)

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Backup Mail Notes with Dropbox
Authored by: billr on Apr 18, '11 02:45:06PM

I'm running Snow Leopard 10.6.7 and Mail keeps my Notes in the folder: ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/Notes.mbox

Although I do use Time Machine (and incidentally create off-site backups each month as well), I have found it convenient to create an alias to the above folder and put it into my Dropbox folder. That way my notes are not only backed up but synced to the cloud and are available on my mobile devices too.

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Backup Mail Notes with Dropbox
Authored by: auntchilada on Apr 19, '11 11:30:37AM

hey billr, are you sure this works as intended? dropboxing a Finder alias syncs the alias, not the target.

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Backup Mail Notes
Authored by: jaydisc on Apr 18, '11 03:48:21PM

> Whatever the reason, they have not seen fit to provide a straightforward way to backup Notes.

Yes, Time Machine is not enough. Where's _"NOTES Time"_?

Join the 21st century and use IMAP for mail and your Notes will automatically be backed up _and synchronized_.

And if necessary, join the 20th century and backup your machine, or at least your entire home folder, instead of piecemeal solutions per file type.

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Backup Mail Notes
Authored by: kaidoh on Apr 19, '11 11:19:54PM

An editor of a local newspaper once told me that they had an older colleague who did backups by taking pictures of his screen when they introduced IT in the editorial workflow. This hint is not far away from that. Dragging text with your mouse to the desktop is the pleistocenic way of backing up. Doing it per hand by digging around in your Library folder isn't any better. The quality of the hints around here is slowly dying down. It's a shame that commentators have to point out solutions of automatizing the (simple) process.

My (serious) tip: think twice if TimeMachine is not an option for your backup needs. It's dead simple and it is way smarter than backing up files by hand. If you want - for whatever reason - a more techy solution go for the rsync-launchd-approach mentioned above.

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