mdimport - macOS


mdimport is a command-line tool for importing email messages, contacts, calendars, and other data from a variety of sources into Apple Mail and Contacts. It’s particularly useful for migrating data from older email clients or when setting up a new macOS device.


mdimport [options] [<source_file>|<source_folder>]


  • –type=type: Specify the data type to import. Use mail, contacts, calendars, preferences, or all. (default: all)
  • –output=path: Save the imported data to a specified path.
  • –from=source: Import from a specific source format. Choose from mbox, emlx, vcf, ics, or plist.
  • –local=path: Convert a local mailbox to an .mbox file before importing.
  • –simulate: Perform a simulation run of the import process without making any actual changes.
  • –error=path: Write errors to the specified file.
  • –help: Display help information.


Import Mail from an MBOX File

mdimport ~/Documents/mail.mbox

Import Contacts from a VCF File and Save to File

mdimport --output ~/Documents/contacts.vcf --type contacts ~/Downloads/contacts.vcf

Convert a Local Mailbox to MBOX and Import

mdimport --local ~/Mail/Inbox --type mail ~/Mail/Inbox

Common Issues

  • Incorrect Source Format: Ensure that the source file is in the supported format specified by the –from option.
  • Insufficient Permissions: Make sure you have read permissions for the source file and write permissions for the output file (if specified).
  • Duplicate Data: If importing contacts or calendars, check for duplicates before importing to avoid creating unnecessary entries.


mdimport can be integrated with AppleScript or shell scripts for automating data migration tasks. For example, you can create a script that regularly imports mail from a specified folder.

  • Mail: Apple’s email client.
  • Contacts: Apple’s contacts manager.
  • Calendar: Apple’s calendar app.