Archiving Messages

in Mac Software edited January 2014
I have only recently (about a month or so) began using a Mac as my main work computer - i was previously using a PC with Windows XP. One of the obvious adjustments I've had to make is going from Outlook 2003 to (3.1 / Leopard).

The transition was made a lot easier by the fact that my email is IMAP based - all I had to do was download my entire inbox into Mail. Once I figured out's differences and learnt to use it properly I've been flying - absolutely love the spotlight searching features.

Anyway, the last hurdle I need to cross is archiving. I don't want an IMAP account filled with tens of thousands of old messages, but I don't want to delete them either. In Outlook on WIndows, it used to take care of archiving for me - every 30 days it would move messages older than 6 months into an archive PST file, which I kept regular backup copies of. The Archive PST was instantly accessible via Outlook in case I ever needed to search for an old message. I'm looking for a Mail equivalent, or a similar solution. I found the "Archive Mailbox..." command in the Mailbox menu, but all this does is creates a COPY of my whole mailbox as a file which must be reimported to access. Anybody have a proper archiving solution? If it's impossible to retain Spotlight searching in archived mail, that's fine, but ideally I would like to be able to recognize, browse and open archived mail without having to re-import all the messages back into my main mailbox account.

Any ideas?
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