Reminders.app just ate all my reminders!

Arg! Reminders.app just ate 10 years of my accumulated brain. The bug report I sent to Apple is below in case it’s interesting to anyone.

I have current TimeMachine backups, but I’m not sure how best to recover data back to Reminders.app or Microsoft Todo.

I’m hoping I can simply:

  • Use System Preferences to disable Reminders in iCloud and Exchange (to make sure nothing crazy happens with sync’ing).
  • Use TimeMachine to recover ~/Library/Reminders & ~/Library//Containers/com.microsoft.to-do-mac

Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

Many thanks,
Adam.


Details of what I think happened in bug report to Apple:

I needed to share my reminders with someone on a Windows computer so decided to use the Microsoft reminders backend with the Apple Reminders.app. This allows him to share reminders with me using Microsoft ToDo.

Using System Preferences I added a Microsoft account and enabled Reminders (no other services).

Using Reminders.app I created a matching set of Lists and Groups in the Microsoft section of Reminders.app.

I copy and pasted all my reminders from the iCloud section of Reminders.app to Microsoft.

I closed Reminders.app and left it over night, double checked that everything was safe in both locations (ICloud and Microsoft).

The following day (today) I verified that everything had copied across successfully to Microsoft and then used Reminders.app to delete the iCloud copy of my reminders.

It happened very quickly so I’m not exactly sure what happened, but what I think happened is that as I deleted the very last list of reminders in iCloud (so nothing remained under iCloud reminders) it also deleted everything under Microsoft.

One moment there was only a single list remaining in iCloud (and everything as it should be under Microsoft) and then as I deleted the final list, everything under Microsoft disappeared as well.

I very very definitely did not accidentally delete the wrong thing. I don’t think there’s even a way to delete all of the lists and groups at once.

As far as I can tell the data is now permanently gone from both locations with no option to undo or backup. I’ll have to figure out how to recover the data from TimeMachine tonight.

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So I’ve managed to recover my Reminders.app data by:

  • Turning off all cloud account reminder services (in my case iCloud and Exchange)
  • Restoring ~/Library/Reminders from TimeMachine
  • Rebooting

The rebooting step is crucial if anyone else ever has to attempt this.

Wheew!

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Update, so actually it’s not that simple. Copying back ~/Library/Reminders and rebooting does work. After the reboot I open Reminders.app and all of my old reminders are there … and then a few seconds later they all get automatically deleted.

Did you turn off Reminders syncing under System Preferences/Internet Accounts?

Yeah, tried restoring wiith sync’ing to iCloud enabled and disabled.

Interesting it deletes all my reminders more slowly with iCloud enabled, like it’s checking against iCloud and deleting everything.

I’m going to try getting rid of my entire ~/Library file and see if that helps. :frowning:

Well that was disappointing. I tried ditching the entire ~/Library folder and Reminders.app still deleted everything. At this point I can only assume that there’s either some weird interaction going on between my Mac and my iPhone or that my Mac and iCloud.

Finally realised I could restore ~/Library/Reminders/ and chown to root. Rebooted and that stopped Reminders.app from being able to delete things which gave me enough time to copy them all out and into Microsoft To Do which I think I will use from now on.

Reminders.app is dead to me. :-/

Glad you came up with a solution

This episode does raise an interesting question. For both Apple Reminders and Apple Notes, is our data locked into a proprietary Apple format? Is there any way to export the data regularly as a backup in a form we can confidently retrieve?

But originally you said…

I don’t understand. You deleted it yourself didn’t you? If you delete the data from iCloud, when the apps are using iCloud for their data, isn’t that the expected result?

I am probably not understanding something, but when I read what happened, this sounds like expected behavior to me. Which is also why I don’t use Reminders or Notes for anything important.

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I have been unable to find anything which will backup Reminders.app data.

For Notes.app there is the Exporter app which dumps out everything in Markdown format. It’s pretty great but has two significant limitations: it only exports some types of attachments and all embedded HTML links are lost. I believe these are limitations of the Mac API.

I’m looking to move away from Notes.app for this reason. Which is super frustrating because I actually really like Notes.app, but the lack of export fidelity is getting me down.

Sorry it’s a bit confusing to explain.

I added Exchange as a backend to Reminders using System Preferences. Then I copy/pasted all my reminders from iCloud to Exchange. At this point I had two full copies of my reminders, both showing in Reminders.app (one on iCloud and one on Exchange).

Then I deleted everything from iCloud, expecting to be left with a full copy remaining on Exchange.

However as I deleted the last list from iCloud, Reminders deleted all my lists from Exchange as well. So at this point there were no reminders visible in Reminders.app in either iCloud or Exchange.

When I restored ~/Library/Reminders, rebooted and opened Reminders.app I would see all of my reminders as expected (depending on what date I chose the backup I would see only my iCloud or both iCloud and Exchange reminders).

However Reminders.app (or perhaps iCloud) would immediately delete everything again.

My best guess is that there’s an internal version number. So by copying back my reminders data iCloud was correctly recognising it as an old copy and deleting it so that it was in sync. But if that’s the case I have no idea how you’re supposed to restore lost data!!?

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I’m having a very similar situation and it’s absolutely driving me up the wall. In my case, I’m only syncing with iCloud across several devices: iMac, iPhone, and iPad; no Exchange accounts or anything else involved. I think a recent MacOS Monterey update caused my reminders to disappear as well.

I’ve turned off syncing and tried copying over the Reminders from an archived Backblaze version. Just as you described, it seems to work, but then when I bring up Reminders.app, lo and behold they just disappear before my eyes.

I like your theory about an internal version number. There’s something that’s telling Reminders that the list is out of date, but I for the life of me can’t figure out what it is.

Have you had any success or abandoned Reminders altogether? I think I might also switch to Microsoft To Do, only because that’s what I sync my work Outlook account with.