Whether you just use OS X’s Mail.app or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, the Address Book in Mac OS X stores a lot of vital information that you don’t want to lose. If you’re going to be making any changes to how you sync this data, adjustments to where and how it’s stored, or just want to move it to another Mac, here’s how to back it up.
Exporting from Address Book
By far the easiest way is to just export the archive from Address Book.app itself:
- Go to the File menu scroll down to Export, then choose ‘Address Book Archive’
- Name the backup something meaningful and export the .abbu file to the desired location
The resulting .abbu file can only be read by Address Book, but it’s easy to reimport by going to File > Import. This file can then be stored for backup purposes, or if you just want to move or copy Address Book data and contacts to a new Mac but not include all of the other iPhone Backup files, this allows for that too.
Performing a Manual Backup
Alternatively, you can also do a manual backup of the Address Book, which is located at:
The quickest way to get there is by using Command+Shift+G and pasting that directory path in. You’ll want to keep the entire folder and its contents, so copy it elsewhere or just archive the entire thing to move somewhere safe.
It is definitely recommended to backup the Address Book one way or another before you do anything dramatic, I’d even suggest doing so before syncing with Google Contacts or anything similar, just to be safe with your data.
Another good use here is to export the file and to then re-import on your other Macs so that your contacts lists are consistent across multiple Macs. This will be achieved through iCloud as well, but if you don’t plan on using the service then manually doing so is always an option.