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Trouble Migrating Thunderbird Email from Windows to Mac OS

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Hello All - Apologies. I'm not as computer savvy as you are. I'm trying to move my Thunderbird emails from a Windows PC over to a 2019 iMac. The emails have sentimental value.

I've been searching this forum for the past two weeks trying to figure this out on my own. There's a video and a file (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/moving-thunderbird-data-to-a-new-computer) that explain the migrating process; I've followed these instructions 7 or 8 times without any success. I've gone in and deleted all traces of Thunderbird from the iMac before each new migration attempt. I replace the profile file with what should be the correct profile file, but the newly installed Thunderbird doesn't "see" the old local mailboxes and instead prompts me to create a new account.

I was successful years ago in moving my Thunderbird account from one PC to another. This current situation is throwing me for a loop. It is probably something ridiculously easy that you will think everyone knows about, but clearly I don't. Thanks so *very* much for your help.

Hello All - Apologies. I'm not as computer savvy as you are. I'm trying to move my Thunderbird emails from a Windows PC over to a 2019 iMac. The emails have sentimental value. I've been searching this forum for the past two weeks trying to figure this out on my own. There's a video and a file (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/moving-thunderbird-data-to-a-new-computer) that explain the migrating process; I've followed these instructions 7 or 8 times without any success. I've gone in and deleted all traces of Thunderbird from the iMac before each new migration attempt. I replace the profile file with what should be the correct profile file, but the newly installed Thunderbird doesn't "see" the old local mailboxes and instead prompts me to create a new account. I was successful years ago in moving my Thunderbird account from one PC to another. This current situation is throwing me for a loop. It is probably something ridiculously easy that you will think everyone knows about, but clearly I don't. Thanks so *very* much for your help.

Chosen solution

Thunderbird must not be running on either computer.

Windows OS : Default location for where Thundrebird stores profiles etc.

  • C:\Users\<Windows user name>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\<Profile name>\

Copy the 'Thunderbird' folder.

Mac OS X Profile folders are located here:

  • ~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<Profile name>/

The tilde character (~) refers to the current user's Home folder, so ~/Library is the /Macintosh HD/Users/<username>/Library folder. Delete the 'Thunderbird' folder. Paste the copied 'Thunderbird' folder into the 'Library' folder.

Start thunderbird

Now you will need to get the mail accounts to look in the correct place and get the 'prefs,js' file updated.

If you move your profile between dissimilar operating systems (Windows to Mac OS X for example) the path names in the prefs.js file may have the wrong syntax.

eg: Windows - a pref may say something like this: "C:\\Users\\User Account name\\AppData\\Roaming\\Thunderbird\\Profiles\\abc12345.default\\Mail\\Local Folders"); But that location does not exist in a MAC especially the part I've marked in bold.

You can update the information stored in the prefs.js file by using the "Browse" button for the local directory in each mail account 'Account Settings' > 'Server Setting's And also Local Folders: Account Settings > Local Folders to specify the correct local directory.

See image as guide, so you know what I'm talking about regarding 'Local directory:'

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  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_14_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/78.0.3904.70 Safari/537.36

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Toad-Hall
  • Top 10 Contributor
1839 solutions 12406 answers

Chosen Solution

Thunderbird must not be running on either computer.

Windows OS : Default location for where Thundrebird stores profiles etc.

  • C:\Users\<Windows user name>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\<Profile name>\

Copy the 'Thunderbird' folder.

Mac OS X Profile folders are located here:

  • ~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<Profile name>/

The tilde character (~) refers to the current user's Home folder, so ~/Library is the /Macintosh HD/Users/<username>/Library folder. Delete the 'Thunderbird' folder. Paste the copied 'Thunderbird' folder into the 'Library' folder.

Start thunderbird

Now you will need to get the mail accounts to look in the correct place and get the 'prefs,js' file updated.

If you move your profile between dissimilar operating systems (Windows to Mac OS X for example) the path names in the prefs.js file may have the wrong syntax.

eg: Windows - a pref may say something like this: "C:\\Users\\User Account name\\AppData\\Roaming\\Thunderbird\\Profiles\\abc12345.default\\Mail\\Local Folders"); But that location does not exist in a MAC especially the part I've marked in bold.

You can update the information stored in the prefs.js file by using the "Browse" button for the local directory in each mail account 'Account Settings' > 'Server Setting's And also Local Folders: Account Settings > Local Folders to specify the correct local directory.

See image as guide, so you know what I'm talking about regarding 'Local directory:'

Thunderbird must not be running on either computer. Windows OS : Default location for where Thundrebird stores profiles etc. * C:\Users\<Windows user name>\AppData\Roaming\'''Thunderbird'''\Profiles\<Profile name>\ Copy the 'Thunderbird' folder. Mac OS X Profile folders are located here: * ~/Library/'''Thunderbird'''/Profiles/<Profile name>/ The tilde character (~) refers to the current user's Home folder, so ~/Library is the /Macintosh HD/Users/<username>/Library folder. Delete the 'Thunderbird' folder. Paste the copied 'Thunderbird' folder into the 'Library' folder. Start thunderbird Now you will need to get the mail accounts to look in the correct place and get the 'prefs,js' file updated. If you move your profile between dissimilar operating systems (Windows to Mac OS X for example) the path names in the '''prefs.js''' file may have the wrong syntax. eg: Windows - a pref may say something like this: "C:\\'''Users\\User Account name\\AppData\\Roaming'''\\Thunderbird\\Profiles\\abc12345.default\\Mail\\Local Folders"); But that location does not exist in a MAC especially the part I've marked in bold. You can update the information stored in the prefs.js file by using the "Browse" button for the local directory in each mail account 'Account Settings' > 'Server Setting's And also Local Folders: Account Settings > Local Folders to specify the correct local directory. See image as guide, so you know what I'm talking about regarding 'Local directory:'

Modified by Toad-Hall

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Toad-Hall
  • Top 10 Contributor
1839 solutions 12406 answers

If it is still not picking up profile try these methods: 1. Help > Troubleshooting Information click on 'about:profiles' You should a default selected that is a new profile, but below it you should see a list of other - imported profile. Below the relevant profile, click on 'Set this as default'. Close Thunderbird, wait a few moments for background processes to complete, then start Thunderbird again and see if it picks up the imported profile.

2. Read info at this link on how to invoke the Profile Manager, so you can choose a profile. http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Manager#Mac_OS_X

If it is still not picking up profile try these methods: 1. Help > Troubleshooting Information click on 'about:profiles' You should a default selected that is a new profile, but below it you should see a list of other - imported profile. Below the relevant profile, click on 'Set this as default'. Close Thunderbird, wait a few moments for background processes to complete, then start Thunderbird again and see if it picks up the imported profile. 2. Read info at this link on how to invoke the Profile Manager, so you can choose a profile. http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Manager#Mac_OS_X
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Question owner

Thank you, Toad-Hall, I will try this.

Is it okay that Thunderbird is currently installed on the destination Mac OS system? I understand that Thunderbird cannot be running while I migrate the files. Should I remove Thunderbird from the destination iMac before attempting to migrate?

Thank you!

Thank you, Toad-Hall, I will try this. Is it okay that Thunderbird is currently installed on the destination Mac OS system? I understand that Thunderbird cannot be running while I migrate the files. Should I remove Thunderbird from the destination iMac before attempting to migrate? Thank you!
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Toad-Hall
  • Top 10 Contributor
1839 solutions 12406 answers

Helpful Reply

You do not need to uninstall the actual Thunderbird program on Mac. The program is installed in a different location from the profile stuff. It just needs to not be running.

You do not need to uninstall the actual Thunderbird program on Mac. The program is installed in a different location from the profile stuff. It just needs to not be running.
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Question owner

Your first solution worked! Thank you for walking me through and showing me where to look and what to do. I am so relieved and grateful. Thanks so much!

Your first solution worked! Thank you for walking me through and showing me where to look and what to do. I am so relieved and grateful. Thanks so much!
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dperson 0 solutions 2 answers

Migrating from machine to machine - even Windows to mac or Windows to linux used to be so easy. Now its a nightmare. Even after all of the above the server names were mangled and despite setting every bit of data I could find, I was unable to send or receive. It just kept demanding my password and then doing nothing.

There seriously needs to be a simple import that allows moving easily between diverse machines. I need to switch between the 3 platforms depending on the project I'm doing. It's very helpful to just pull my email with me rather than have to have another laptop along just for email.

Migrating from machine to machine - even Windows to mac or Windows to linux used to be so easy. Now its a nightmare. Even after all of the above the server names were mangled and despite setting every bit of data I could find, I was unable to send or receive. It just kept demanding my password and then doing nothing. There seriously needs to be a simple import that allows moving easily between diverse machines. I need to switch between the 3 platforms depending on the project I'm doing. It's very helpful to just pull my email with me rather than have to have another laptop along just for email.
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sfhowes
  • Top 10 Contributor
1838 solutions 9067 answers

dperson said

Migrating from machine to machine - even Windows to mac or Windows to linux used to be so easy. Now its a nightmare. Even after all of the above the server names were mangled and despite setting every bit of data I could find, I was unable to send or receive. It just kept demanding my password and then doing nothing. There seriously needs to be a simple import that allows moving easily between diverse machines. I need to switch between the 3 platforms depending on the project I'm doing. It's very helpful to just pull my email with me rather than have to have another laptop along just for email.

One thing that's often overlooked when copying the Thunderbird folder between Windows and Linux or OS X, is you should delete the pkcs11.txt file from the transferred profile folder to avoid password issues like the one you experienced.

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1263932 https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1257585

''dperson [[#answer-1271883|said]]'' <blockquote> Migrating from machine to machine - even Windows to mac or Windows to linux used to be so easy. Now its a nightmare. Even after all of the above the server names were mangled and despite setting every bit of data I could find, I was unable to send or receive. It just kept demanding my password and then doing nothing. There seriously needs to be a simple import that allows moving easily between diverse machines. I need to switch between the 3 platforms depending on the project I'm doing. It's very helpful to just pull my email with me rather than have to have another laptop along just for email. </blockquote> One thing that's often overlooked when copying the Thunderbird folder between Windows and Linux or OS X, is you should delete the pkcs11.txt file from the transferred profile folder to avoid password issues like the one you experienced. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1263932 https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1257585
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Tom Cat 0 solutions 5 answers

Same problem here, even when following above suggestions. From Windows 10 to Catalina 10.15.2. T-bird 68.4.1 (64 bit) (I am not super computer savvy.)

It will NOT show imported profiles! like Toad-Hall suggested (See screenshot) I tried switching to "hauptpostamt" (main post office -- whatever this may refer to), but on restart still get "Set up an existing mail account"...??

Same problem here, even when following above suggestions. From Windows 10 to Catalina 10.15.2. T-bird 68.4.1 (64 bit) (I am not super computer savvy.) It will NOT show imported profiles! like Toad-Hall suggested (See screenshot) I tried switching to "hauptpostamt" (main post office -- whatever this may refer to), but on restart still get "Set up an existing mail account"...??

Modified by Tom Cat

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