How to: Restore Address Book, Keychain, and iCal data

Maybe you’ve bought a new computer and can’t use Migration Assistant, or maybe you need to restore your data after it has been corrupted. Whatever the reason, you’ll be happy to know that replacing the data in Address Book, iCal and Keychain is as easy as replacing a file. Since OS X stores data inside standard text files, all data associated with a specific application will be found inside the user library.

Here’s where to find them.

Address Book

Navigate to userfolder / Library / Application Support / AddressBook. Inside that folder is a number of strange and mysterious file names. The one you’re looking for is AddressBook.data. If you try opening that file in a text editor, you’ll see gibberish because it is a binary data file.

Transfer that file to another Address Book instance (in the same folder), restart the application, and you’ll have all your contacts again.

Keychain

Restoring the Keychain, while basically the same process, requires slightly more work to complete. Navigate to userfolder / Library / Keychains and look for login.keychain. This file stores all the passwords and website form details that are collected whenever you save them. “Login” is the master keychain that the system always looks for. If you’re replacing this keychain with another backup, you’ll have to unlock it before you can use it properly again. To do that, open Keychain Access (inside /Applications/Utilities) and select Unlock Keychain “login” from the File menu. Enter your administration password, and you’re good to go.

iCal data

Backing up iCal calendar data is much easier if you export the calendar from inside iCal. To do that, select the calendar from the list on the left side of the window, and choose Export from the File menu. That will produce a file with a .ics extension that can be imported into iCal by double clicking the document.

If you’re looking for the iCal data specifically, the calendar files are located at userfolder / Library / Calendars. The problem with this method is that the calendars are stored inside a cryptically-named folder that can only be distinguished by opening the info.plist file inside the folder. Using the folder itself is probably only necessary when you need to rescue data and iCal cannot be opened.

Thanks to the file organization of Mac OS X, you can be sure that important personal data can be recovered or backed up if there is a problem.

[tags]Mac OS X, iCal, Keychain, Address Book, backup, troubleshooting[/tags]

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