Mac OS X Mail: How to transfer downloaded email from a non-Mac computer

You can move downloaded email messages from a Microsoft Windows-based PC to Mac OS X by exporting them and copying the exported file to your Mac.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Note: This article is intended for situations in which you use a POP account and do not store messages on the email server after downloading them. Mail supports many email services, such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail.

Use this article when:

  • You want to move more than a few email messages from a non-Mac computer to Mac OS X. Note: If you are moving only a few messages, you may prefer to forward them to yourself from your non-Mac OS X email application and retrieve them via the same account in Mac OS X Mail. Doing this may change some message attributes, such as "Date" and "From", as well as message text formatting.
  • Copies of the email messages you want to move have not been left on the mail server, either via IMAP or POP. For example, if you use POP for your email account, keep email messages in your Inbox and/or in custom folders in your email application, and you have messages removed from the email server immediately or after a period of time. Also, if you use a web-based email service that stores messages on a server, you do not need to use this article.

Important: You should back up your email application's message database before proceeding, if possible. If you do not know how to back up or locate your application's email message database, consult the support resources included with the application or visit the software manufacturer's website.

Transferring email to Mac OS X Mail

Mail in Mac OS X can import messages that were exported from Microsoft Entourage, Netscape/Mozilla, Thunderbird, Eudora, or from existing mbox files.

  1. Open the email program on your non-Mac computer.
  2. Configure the email program's settings so it no longer retrieves new email (consult its documentation or refer to the manufacturer for assistance if you don't know how). Note: If you intend to get the same email on both your Mac and PC in the future, consider setting the PC program to not remove messages from the server after downloading them after following these steps, or use IMAP on both computers.
  3. Export your email messages from the program--as an mbox file if possible. The method for doing this may vary by program--if you cannot drag a folder of messages to your desktop, or do not see an "Export messages" option in the program's menus, consult its documentation or refer to the manufacturer for assistance.

    : Some programs such as Thunderbird may already use mbox files, in which case you don't need to export messages but can simply copy the appropriate mbox file(s) from your PC to your Mac as discussed in the next step.
  4. After the export is complete, copy the exported file from your PC to your Mac. You could do this by burning the file to a CD, by copying the file to an external drive that is formatted as FAT32 and then connecting the drive to your Mac, by copying it via a network connection between the Mac and PC.
  5. In Mac OS X, click the Mail icon in the Dock.
  6. If you do not already have your email account configured in Mail, use the Mail Setup Assistant, or see this article. It is recommended that you use IMAP if possible, so that messages can be easily accessed by you from more than one computer or email application.
  7. From the File menu, choose Import Mailboxes.
  8. Choose "mbox files" from the "Import data from:" list, then click Continue.
  9. Select the file that you transferred from the PC.  Your messages should be imported into Mail.


  • The amount of time required to export and transfer content depends on the speed of your computer and the size of the email messages and attachments that you are moving.
  • If desired, create one or more new Mailboxes (or custom subfolders) specifically for your transferred email messages. For example, choose New Mailbox from the Mailbox menu. Type a name, such as "Moved From Old PC," and click OK. See this article as well.
  • When messages are moved to a non-IMAP folder or Mailbox, they are automatically removed from the IMAP server. The message would then only exist in Mac OS X Mail unless you kept a local backup copy on the PC.

Learn more

Some third-party applications may offer different methods for transferring email from certain PC email applications to a Mac, such as these:

See these articles as well:

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