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MBOX is the most widely compatible format, supported by several email applications. Users often use them to store old emails, which continue to hold relevant information that can be used in the future. These MBOX files have a simple format and can be opened on Windows as well as Apple environments. If you are a Mac system user, it might be a bit tricky to read them directly due to their formatting. But to get out of this problem, there are a few approaches that will help you to open an MBOX file in Apple systems as well. You can also transfer the files from Apple Mail to PST, which is another suitable format to store the information.

MBOX is a simple format that stores all the messages of the mailbox in a single text file. All the emails are saved in a back-to-back format which can be differentiated only by the ‘From’ header. It is not a convenient way to store a series of emails holding relevant information, but still, users decide to use it. Also, multiple email clients extend their support to MBOX files, including Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Opera Mail, Spicebird, Entourage, Sylpheed, Eudora, Sea Monkey, etc. Without further ado, let us see how to open MBOX file on Mac.

Methods to open an MBOX file on Mac

Since all the Mac systems have a different environment altogether, they are not compatible with all the existing file formats. But that is not the case with MBOX. This format is well supported and can be opened on a Mac system using two of its own applications-

  • A text editor
  • Apple Mail

The procedures for both have been discussed at length here-

Open MBOX with a Text Editor

The easiest way to open an MBOX in a Mac system is through Finder and a text editor. It will help you to search for all the existing files on the system, and further change their display settings or even remove them.

  1. Open Finder and click on the Spotlight icon. It acts just like the Quick Search option available on iPhones and iPads.Open Finder and click on the Spotlight icon
  2. Type the desired files, and it will locate all of them.locate all of them
  3. Right-click on the selected files. Click on Open With and choose a text editor to view the files.Right-click on the selected files

The slight issue with this approach is when the files and all their contents are merged. It gets difficult for the user to separate different emails among the entire files.

Open MBOX with Apple Mail

You can simply use Mail, the default email application of all Mac systems. This will make the email and structure clearer and easier to understand. The files must be imported first to Apple Mail, and then you can view them easily.

  1. Open the Mail application and select the File menu.
  2. From the drop-down menu, click on Import Mailboxes.Import Mailboxes
  3. You need to select the source of the file.
    • If you are importing it from the same or another Mac system, then select Apple Mail.
    • If you are importing the files from Windows or UNIX systems, select Files in mbox format.

    Click on Continue to find the files.Click on Continue

  4. Browse through the files and select the required ones. Click on Choose.Click on Choose
  5. You will receive a message informing you about the new folder’s name in the list of mailboxes that holds all the MBOX files. Click on Done. The importing process will begin.Click on Done
  6. The folder will be added to the Mail sidebar, and you can view them whenever needed.
How Can I Create a MBOX File?

A Mac user can easily create a MBOX file. You just need to export the email folder you wish to convert. Follow these simple steps.

  • To export a MBOX file, select the email folder you want to export.
  • To export an email folder, right-click on the folder and choose Export Mailbox.
  • Using the Choose button, select the folder or location to create the MBOX file.
An alternative approach

Another solution that you can opt for is using the Kernel Mac MBOX Converter. It is a powerful software that can convert MBOX files from several email clients into a more secure PST format that can be accessed anytime. This entire conversion process is conducted, maintaining the properties and structure of the data without data loss. The tool does not limit the size and number of files, and it can be best used to take backup of all the essential data which the MBOX files have.


An MBOX file is the simplest form of file format, which is widely accepted by multiple email clients. We hope you got all your answers to how to open MBOX file on Mac. It can be easily opened in a Mac system as well using a text editor and Apple mail applications. Finder directly searches for the existing files on the system and displays them using a text editor. Whereas, if you are interested in viewing it in email form, then you need to import the MBOX file into Apple Mail and then view it without any interruptions. To deal with oversized MBOX file issues and convert the MBOX files into PST format, a professional utility can be used.

Q1. What email client reads MBOX?

Popular email programs and operating systems use the MBOX message database format for email:
Apple Mail
Mozilla Thunderbird
Opera Mail

Q2. What is the difference between mailbox and MBOX?

MBOX refers to a specific file format that stores email messages in a single database file, but a mailbox typically contains an entire email account with multiple folders. In other words, MBOX is just one part of a larger mailbox.