The article will show you what the Archive mailbox is, where to find it and what to do with the mailbox.

What is the archive mailbox in AppleMail?

With the Archive mailbox the emails you can move emails from the server to a mailbox on your computer. You could do the same by using a mailbox in the Local mailboxes folder.

Where can you find the archive mailbox in AppleMail?

An Archive mailbox is automatically created by Mail for each account.

The Archive mailbox looks like a regular mailbox in Big Sur

Archive mailbox in Big Sur

But it's only a local mailbox. On my High Sierra computer the mailbox shows up only for the top level Inbox/Sent etc mailboxes which are called Favourites in Big Sur. But this way it looks a bit clearer that the Archive mailbox is a local mailbox:Archive mailboxes in High Sierra

How to move an email to the Archive mailbox in AppleMail?

The easiest way to use the Archive mailbox is to just select some emails and drag them into the Archive mailbox.

If your toolbar has an Archive button then you can use the Archive button. If you archive more often then you can add the Archive button to the toolbar.

You can also select Message -> Archive in the Mail menu or use the keyboard shortcut Control+Command+A.

You can add the Archive mailboxes to the Favourites in Big Sur so that the mailboxes look similar to older versions of macOS.

Click on the plus button next to Favourites:

Add to favourites in AppleMailIn "Mailbox to Add" select "All Archive" and click on the OK button:

Add All Archive to Favourites

Here is the result:

All Archive added to Favourites

Of course, as developer of Mail Archiver I don't use the archive mailbox myself. Here you can see some old emails from a Gmail test account.

Does archiving this way save space in AppleMail?

Archived emails don't count against the quota of your accounts because the emails are stored locally. However, archived emails don't save space on your hard disk because you just moved the emails from one location to another on the same hard disk.

Can you delete the archived emails in AppleMail?

Of course, you can delete the archived emails because they are just in a local mailbox.

Can you unarchive emails in AppleMail?

Select some emails and move them back to the original account.

Are archived emails searchable in AppleMail?

Yes, they are.

Benefits of using a local archive mailbox in AppleMail

  • It's simple to use.
  • The emails are no longer stored on the IMAP server.

Drawbacks of using a local archive mailbox in AppleMail

  • You have to archive the emails manually and not automatically.
  • You lose your mailbox organisation. Everything ends up in the same mailbox.
  • You can't store the archived emails on an external disk.
  • You can't store the archived emails in a different format.

For each of the drawbacks you can use Mail Archiver. You can archive automatically, keep your mailbox organisation. Of course, you can store the archived emails on an external hard disk. And you can use PDF or Filemaker if you want.

Next we are going to look at archiving in Outlook which is quite similar to AppleMail.