Moving Thunderbird Data to a New Computer

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  • Revision id: 73184
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  • Creator: Michele Rodaro
  • Comment: new {for win} to show instructions for Windows only
  • Reviewed: Yes
  • Reviewed:
  • Reviewed by: user917725
  • Is approved? Yes
  • Is current revision? No
  • Ready for localization: Yes
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  • Readied for localization by: user917725
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Windows Easy Transfer Wizard

Recent versions of Windows come with an Easy Transfer Wizard which offers to transfer your data, documents, videos and email to your new computer. The default settings for this transfer wizard do not transfer Thunderbird data to your new computer. However, it is simple to make the changes necessary to have the software move your Thunderbird data.

Once the wizard has finished the "Checking what can be transferred" routine, a customize option will appear under the account name. Click this option to open a dialog that provides access to advanced options.


Click Advanced at the bottom of the list, which opens a file selection dialog. Expand the folder named Application data and check the box beside the folder name Thunderbird as shown below.


Click Save and continue with the wizard. Your Thunderbird data is now included in the data that will be transferred from your old computer to your new computer.

Manually moving files

If you are moving from one operating system to another (such as changing from Windows to Mac) then you must manually move your profile from one computer to the next. You'll need to first back up your profile using the instructions on the Profiles page, then follow the directions on that page for "Restoring to a different location."

Using Gmail to move messages

In this method, you transfer messages to a Gmail account and then synchronize them to your new Thunderbird installation.

  1. Create a Gmail account if you don't already have one.
  2. Create a Thunderbird account on the original computer for your Gmail account.
  3. Make sure that your Gmail account properties are configured to use IMAP rather than POP3.
  4. In Thunderbird, create matching subfolders under your Gmail account for every message folder you want to move. Thunderbird will automatically create a corresponding folder in your Gmail account. You can create nested subfolders. For example...
  5. Thunderbird folders

  6. For each folder you want to transfer, go to the original folder in Thunderbird, select all the messages, right-click and select Copy To and then select the corresponding folder in the Gmail account. As Thunderbird copies the messages to the new folder they are also copied to your online Gmail storage space.
  7. On your new computer, install Thunderbird and create your Gmail account.
  8. Your online folders and messages should now be available in Thunderbird on the new computer. As you click on each folder, it will synchronize with your Gmail account.

See Also