Profiles - Where Thunderbird stores your messages and other user data

All your data such as messages, passwords and user preferences, and changes made while you use Thunderbird, are stored in a special folder called a profile. Your profile folder is stored in a separate place from the Thunderbird program, so that if something ever goes wrong with Thunderbird your information will still be there. It also means that you can uninstall Thunderbird and reinstall without losing your settings and data. (Most users use the single default profile, but it is possible to have Using Multiple Profiles.)

How do I find my profile?

  • Click the menu button fx57menu, click Help and select More Troubleshooting Information. The Troubleshooting Information tab will open.
  • Under the Application Basics section, find the Profile FolderProfile Directory row, then click on Open FolderShow in FinderOpen Directory. A window will open that contains your profile folder.Your profile folder will open.
Note: If you are unable to open or use Thunderbird, follow the instructions in Finding your profile without opening Thunderbird.

Finding your profile without opening Thunderbird

Thunderbird stores your profile folder in this location on your computer, by default:
"C:\Users\<your Windows login username>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\"
Windows hides the AppData folder by default, but you can find your profile folder as follows:

  1. Press Windows Key+R on the keyboard. A Run dialog will open.
  2. Type in:
    %APPDATA%\Thunderbird\Profiles\
  3. Click OK. A window will open containing profile folders.
  4. Double-click the profile folder you wish to open. If you only have one profile, its folder would have "default" in the name.
  1. From the Start Screen, click the Desktop tile. The Desktop view will open.
  2. From the Desktop, hover in the lower right-hand corner to access the Charms.
  3. Select the Search charm. The Search sidebar will open.
  4. In the search box, type in:
    %APPDATA%\Thunderbird\Profiles\
    without pressing Enter. A list of profile folders will appear.
  5. Click on the profile folder you wish to open (it will open in a window). If you only have one profile, its folder would have "default" in the name.
  1. Click the Windows Start button. The Start menu will open.
  2. In the Search box at the bottom of the Start menu, type:
    %APPDATA%\Thunderbird\Profiles\
    without pressing Enter. A list of profiles will appear at the top of the Start menu.
  3. Click on the profile folder you wish to open (it will open in a window). If you only have a single profile, its folder would have "default" in the name.
  • Alternatively, you can find your profile by pressing the Windows Key key and then start typing: %APPDATA%\Thunderbird\Profiles\
Note: To set Windows to show the AppData folder and other hidden files and folders, see Show hidden files - Windows Help.
  1. Click the Windows Start button, and select Run….

    win-run.png
  2. Type in:
    %APPDATA%\Thunderbird\Profiles\
    then click OK.
    A window will open containing profile folders.
    win-rundialog.png
  3. Double-click the profile folder you wish to open. If you only have one profile, its folder would have "default" in the name.
  1. Click the Finder icon in the dock. On the menu bar, click the Go menu, hold down the option or alt key and select Library.
  2. Open the Thunderbird folder, and then the Profiles folder.
  3. Your profile folder is within this folder. If you only have one profile, its folder would have "default" in the name.
  1. (Ubuntu) Click the Places menu on the top right of the screen and select Home Folder. A File Browser window will appear.
  2. Click the View menu and select Show Hidden Files if it isn't already checked.
  3. Double click the folder marked .thunderbird. Your profile folder is within this folder. If you only have one profile, its folder would have "default" in the name.

Backing up a profile

To back up your profile, first close Thunderbird if it is open and then copy the profile folder to another location.

  1. Locate your profile folder, as explained above.
  2. Shut down Thunderbird.
  3. Go to one level above your profile's folder, i.e. to %APPDATA%\Thunderbird\Profiles\~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/~/.mozilla/Thunderbird/
  4. Right-clickHold down the Ctrl key while you click on your profile folder (e.g. xxxxxxxx.default), and select Copy.
  5. Right-clickHold down the Ctrl key while you click the backup location (e.g. a USB-stick or a blank CD-RW disc), and select Paste item.

Restoring a profile backup

  1. Shut down Thunderbird.
  2. If your existing profile folder and profile backup folder have the same name, simply replace the existing profile folder with the profile backup, then start Thunderbird.
    Important: The profile folder names must match exactly for this to work, including the random string of 8 characters. If the names do not match or if you are restoring a backup to a different location, follow the steps below.

Restoring to a different location

If the profile folder names do not match or if you want to move or restore a profile to a different location, do the following:

  1. Completely close Thunderbird, as explained above.
  2. Use the Thunderbird Profile Manager to create a new profile in your desired location, then exit the Profile Manager.
    Note: If you just installed Thunderbird on a new computer, you can use the default profile that is automatically created when you first run Thunderbird, instead of creating a new profile.
  3. Locate the backed up profile folder on your hard drive or backup medium (e.g., your USB-stick).
  4. Open the profile folder backup (e.g., the xxxxxxxx.default backup).
  5. Copy the entire contents of the profile folder backup, such as the mimeTypes.rdf file, prefs.js file, etc.
  6. Locate and open the new profile folder as explained above and then close Thunderbird (if open).
  7. Paste the contents of the backed up profile folder into the new profile folder, overwriting existing files of the same name.
  8. Start Thunderbird.

Moving a profile

Occasionally, you might want to move a profile or tell Thunderbird to use a profile stored in another location.

  1. Shut down Thunderbird.
  2. Move the profile folder to the desired location. For example, on Windows XP, move the profile from C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default to D:\Stuff\MyMailProfile. (If you are reverting to a backed up profile, this step isn't necessary. Just note the current location of the profile you want to restore.)
  3. Open up the profiles.ini file in a text editor. The file is located in the application data folder for Thunderbird:
    • The path is %AppData%\Thunderbird\ for Windows~/.thunderbird/ for Linux~/Library/Thunderbird/ for Mac OS X.
  4. In the profiles.ini file, locate the entry for the profile you've just moved. Change the Path= line to the new location.
  5. If you switch from a relative path to a non-relative path, the direction of the slashes may need to change. For example, in Windows, non-relative paths use backslashes, whereas relative ones use forward slashes. Change IsRelative=1 to IsRelative=0.
  6. Save profiles.ini and restart Thunderbird.

See Also

Was this article helpful?

Please wait...

These fine people helped write this article:

Illustration of hands

Volunteer

Grow and share your expertise with others. Answer questions and improve our knowledge base.

Learn More