Importing Apple mail archives

Hi -

I have a client who recently had their Apple mail app crash and i needed to update to High Sierra to sort it because the mail folders had got too large to make it worthwhile to do a Time Machine restore.
The client now has all email accounts back but the messages only go back to last week (despite being on IMAP i dont think it was set to save much on the server).
They have asked if i can restore the emails from 2017 from some of the archives that were made at the end of 2017.
I did not make the archives so i had to search for them. I found a folder with the heading archives 2017 but the folders are several, totaling to 22GB but the one folder called archive.mbox is only 2 GB. The largest one i could find has a long name which does not initially make any sense. I have attached a screenshot.
I have initiated an  import of the folder but being being so large i will have to wait a while before i know if it is the correct one. Could someone explain to me why these folders are created and named in such a way if the secretary who did the archive i assume followed the correct procedure. Why isn't there just one MBOX file?

Thanks
D
Apple-mail.PNG
DominicIT ConsultantAsked:
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serialbandCommented:
Apple Mail is split into individual files instead of a single Monolithic mbox file.  The do this to make spotlight search work more easily for them.  There is a folder hierarchy based on the mail folder names.  That archive.mbox looks to be just one folder saved from the others.  That archive.mbox looks to be a subfolder of some original mbox, possibly the Inbox.  Those numbered folders should hold the Data folder which contains an Attachments and a Messages folder where you will find individual .emlx files.  Normally the mail files are indexed in ~/Library/Mail/

It appears that the outer folder should have been labeled as a .mbox folder, to allow those 2 other folders to be imported, with the archive.mbox folder as a subfolder.
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DominicIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Hi Serialband - thanks for this elaborate explanation. The archive i imported yesterday contains the mail for ONE of the accounts but not for the other account. There are a number of other archives and mailboxes distrubuted accross the mac. If they have not been labelled i guess there is no other way than simply importing in order to find out if its the correct mail archive?
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serialbandCommented:
Yes, that's the case.

Each of the .elmx files in the subdirectories are text files.  If you're looking for a specific account, it should be easy enough to find with standard unix grep and find command line tools.

If you've loaded the folders to spotlight, you can also do a spotlight search to find individual mail.
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DominicIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Ok thanks Serialband. Whilst i have your ear, i have a more general question to ask regarding Apple Mail.
I spend 50% of my time in mail clients on behalf of clients as a large part of our business is installing and supporting hosted Exchange.
Coming from a PC/Windows background i find my experience with Outlook much more stable and greater operability with it compared to Apple Mail and even Outlook on the mac. It is not uncommon to find Apple mail corrupt its mailboxes or just hang on syncing which drives me nuts because Outlook on the PC is such a dream. I want to separate my own bias for all things Windows OS vs the true merit of Apple Mail. Is it a stable mail client? Do you have any recommendations on how to keep it running efficiently (ie not exceed mailbox size limits). Basically i am trying to work out an efficient maintenance solution for my mac clients who don't use Outlook so i can avoid unstable mailboxes.
Thanks
D
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serialbandCommented:
I've been using both Outlook and Apple mail for work, so that I can support users.  I have not had an unstable mailbox, but I'm also not a typical user. I just haven't had issues with corruption and I don't know what users typically do to get that.  I also periodically reset the SMC and the PRAM, something many users just don't do on their own, and that seems to prevent issues from cropping up on a Mac.

My own home use email client is Thunderbird, and I've got a score of email addresses on that without issues.  I use Thunderbird, because I can copy my local mail folders between Windows, Linux, and Mac without issue, allowing me to switch platforms whenever I switch jobs and they give me a work computer that is a different platform.
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DominicIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your thorough feedback and help
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