How to Find the Mac Mail Storage Location

Find Out Where Mail Is Stored on Your Mac

Looking to export, delete, fix, or examine your macOS Mail email store? Find out here where to locate the Mail storage location on your Mac, and in which file format emails are stored.

First, a Pressing Question for a Movie Director

Between They Call Me Trinity and Double Trouble, Enzo Barboni (at times credited as E.B. Clucher) directed and produced many a movie—with many a scene that shows protagonists (usually impersonated by Terence Hill and Bud Spencer) eating.

“Why are people always eating in your movies?” he was purportedly asked once.

“Because eating is the most important thing for most people.”

Now that we have gotten to the bottom of this mystery, how about digging deep into a Mac’s folders to find the email store location? Email is the second most important thing for post people, after, all, is it not?

How to Find the Mac Mail Storage Location

Time needed: 3 minutes

To find the folder where Apple Mail for macOS stores emails on your Mac:

  1. Open a new Finder window.

    Here’s how: Click Finder in the macOS Dock, for instance, and press Command N for a new window.

  2. Press Command Shift G to open the Go to the folder: window.

    Using the menu: You can also select Go | Go to Folder… from the menu bar.

  3. Type ~/Library/Mail/ under Go to the folder:

    Auto-completion: Press Tab to have macOS complete Library and Mail as you type.
    Tilde: The tilde (~) is the shortcut to your Mac account’s home directory.
    Go to the ~/Library/Mail/ folder in Finder

  4. Click OK.

  5. Find the following folders:

    Bundles: This folder contains Mail plug-ins.
    Vx with x replaced by a version number: These folders contain account settings and email.
    macOS email is stored in folders by Mail version

  6. Open the Vx folder with the largest number.

    Example: For macOS Sonoma and macOS Ventura, choose V10.

  7. Find the following folders:

    MailData: This folder holds settings and email signatures.
    – Folders with random strings in the form XXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXX: Each folder corresponds to an email account.

  8. In each email account’s folder, find the following:

    Mailbox.mbox with Mailbox replaced by the email folder’s name: each folder contains all emails in the corresponding email account folder.
    Mbox folders correspond to email account folder names in Mac Mail

  9. In each Mailbox.mbox folder, find the following:

    – A hierarchy of folders with, at least in part, random strings.
    Messages as the lowest folder name.

  10. In the Messages folder, find the following:

    XXXXXX.emlx: The individual email in EML format, that is with its full source code in plain text.
    Mac emails are saved as individual emlx files

How to Find the Mac Mail Storage Location: FAQ

Can I copy the EML files to “export” emails from Mac Mail?

Yes.

You can copy and import or archive the EML files to any email program. Any plain text editor can also open these plain text files—encoded emails may require decoding, however.

Can I delete the email folders to reset Mail?

Yes, in a way.

While Mail for Mac cannot be removed and reinstalled, you can reset it by removing its settings files and mail store.

Can I open the EML files to access the headers and sources?

Yes, but you do not need to.

You can open individual “.emlx” files in a text editor such as TextEdit or Vim, of course, to access the message source and headers; Apple Mail can also show you the full headers and email source, though.

(How to find out where mail Is stored on your Mac tested with macOS Sonoma 14.0, Ventura 13.3, Monterey 12.0, and Big Sur 11.5; first published August 2021, last updated April 2024)

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