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Subject: Recovering missing Mail folder from TimeMachine backup


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Problem: have migrated to a new Mac, but for some reason the Migration Assistant failed to bring over the email (all other files were brought over successfully). I suspect it was due to the brand new IMac arriving (surprisingly) with Catalina installed, and the old Mac had already been upgraded to Big Sur. (We've upgraded to Big Sur on this new Mac post-migration, but found the emails still missing).
Was able to add the Gmail account from scratch and download all the server mail, but the "On my Mac" mailboxes (containing thousands of emails) are missing. Retrieving them from TimeMachine has been a failure.
When I bring the Mail viewer to the front and enter TimeMachine and pick at date, it sits and never reveals the email state of that day. We've let it sit for a couple hours, and it just doesn't go back in time. Alternatively, when I open the ~/Library folder in the Finder and and initiate Enter TimeMachine, it shows that there is no "Mail" folder that was backed up. Every other folder in ~/Library seems to be there, with "Mail" the only one missing. Have tried multiple dates going back months, as if the Mail folder had been excluded from TimeMachine (but it wasn't).
Any ideas how to retrieve these "On my Mac" mailboxes?
This topic was modified 1 year ago by appleseed
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3 Answers

You should be able to move the “on my Mac” mail folders over from your old Mac to your new Mac. 

Agreed that *should* be the case. However, there's more to the story — I didn't want to complicate it and just present the essence of the problem. But I'll go into the details.

The "old" Mac, a 2015 iMac had been running Mojave and in suddenly a few weeks ago, started running super slow. We tried all sorts of troubleshooting to bring it back to normal, running Disk First Aid from Recovery mode, safe boot, even wiping the hard drive, reinstalling a fresh Mojave, updating to Catalina, updating to Big Sur — and none of it fixed the problem. For Covid and other reasons, my friend decided to buy a new Mac instead of continuing the troubleshooting or getting that hardware diagnosed by Apple.

In all of those troubleshooting steps, somehow we "lost" that On my Mac mail, but it wasn't the priority at the time, and I figured we could get it back from TimeMachine. But now it appears it wasn't on TimeMachine, at least back a few months. I could try looking earlier for that missing Mail folder. But I'm thinking it's not really missing, but perhaps relocated, for instance, in some Containers folder. I looked in the obvious Containers folder on his TimeMachine hard drive,, but it's just an alias.


Do you have any offsite backups?


I thought we did, but no unfortunately., Backblaze was set to backup a different Mac of his.


I didn't want to complicate it and just present the essence of the problem. But I'll go into the details.

The essence is when trying to restore from TimeMachine, the "On My Mac" mailboxes are missing from the backup, even when I go back to a time when they were definitely present. How do I get those mailboxes back?