Upgrading to a new Mac is fun! What’s not fun though is that very often an upgrade comes at the inconvenience of losing your old settings, preferences, and data. This is especially evident when it comes to your messages.
Yes, signing in with your Apple ID on the new device will restore your chats from the iCloud backup, but most messages are not synced with iCloud. For security reasons, they stay on your local disk. So, when you move to a new device … pouff, your stuff is gone!
Lucky for you, we know a few handy tricks that will help you transfer your iMessage history to your new Mac.
Step 1: Finding the iMessage Archive
The step first step in the iMessages transfer process is to locate the archive. This process is also helpful if you want to find some old conversation quickly or locate that one particular file that was sent as an attachment.
How to find your iMessage archive
- Open the Messages app on your Macbook.
- Go to Messages > Preferences.
- Check the “Save history when conversations are closed” box.
- In the Finder, head to the Go menu and select Go to Folder.
- Type in ~/Library/Messages.
- You should see two folders: Archive and Attachments along with a file database labeled “chat.db“.
Archive: Obviously, this folder holds all your past messages.
Attachments: Stores all the media (images, video, audio clips) from those conversations.
Chat.db: Holds all the information from your active message history.
Your archived conversations follow a very specific nomenclature. Your chats will be stored in individual folders named with the date your chats were closed. Inside you’ll find files named after individual people (the ones you were chatting with).
Clicking on any of those file will pop out the conversation in iMessages. You can’t edit, search, or export conversations to a different format, but you can copy and paste sentences.
The “Attachments” folder works a little bit differently. If you have ever opened the source folder in your Photos app you will have noticed that photos have been labeled with weird numbers. The same thing happens here as well.
All your media in the “Attachments” folder will be named incomprehensibly. This is primarily a security feature, so trying to find a particular media, although not impossible, is pretty hard. Our advice? Be prepared to sweat a little!!
Step 2: Moving your Messages to a new Mac
- Turn on both your old and new Macs. Make sure the Messages app is closed on both.
- Open the AirDrop window on the new and old Macs. (If AirDrop isn’t working, you can also use File Sharing.)
- Open the ~/Library/Messages folder on your old Mac and new Mac using the method above.
- Drag the Messages folder from your old Mac to AirDrop.
- If you’ve already been using the Messages app on your new Mac, make a copy of this folder and save it to your desktop.
- Delete the data from the Messages folder on your new Mac.
- Drag the data from the Messages folder you copied from your old Mac to the now-empty Messages folder.
- Restart your new Mac. That’s it. Your old Messages history should now be available as is on your new Mac.
That’s it! Now you can switch Macs without worrying about losing all the iMessages and their attachments.