How to Archive IMAP email with Apple Mail

These instructions are for setting up a local "mail account" on your computer in Apple Mail, which is the default email app that comes with every Mac using OS X 10.0 or later. This can be used to "archive" any emails with large attachments so that they don't count towards your mail quota, since the email are moved from the server to your local computer. This is particularly useful for when you are receiving mailbox nearly full notifications / warnings.

These steps are for Mail version 8.2 on Yosemite (OSX 10.10.2); your version may differ slightly depending on which version of the Mac OSX you are running but the same basic steps and setting apply.

Create the local mail account to appear under "On My Mac"

  1. Start Apple Mail
  2. From the Mail menu select Mailbox > New Mailbox... The "New Mailbox" window  should now appear
  3. For Location select "On My Mac" from the dropdown
  4. For Name enter a name for your new local mailbox
  5. Click OK and your new mailbox should appear in the mailbox listing

Now copy/move your mail to the local mailbox

  1. Open the mailbox on the server that contains the message or messages you'd like to copy or move
  2. Select the messages you wish to copy; to select all the messages in a mailbox use command-a (  - a)
  3. ctrl-click on the highlighted messages to see a menu of options and select "Move To"
  4. Then choose the folder you created in previously from the pop-up menu
  5. Result: The messages you selected are copied to the folder on your local machine. If you have a lot of messages this could take a few minutes to complete.

By selecting "Move To" the messages will disappear from the mail server and will no longer count against your email quota. Repeat the steps as needed to copy or move mail from multiple mailboxes on the server to your preferred set of mailboxes on your local machine.

  • mail.app, apple
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