Search Support

Avoid support scams. We will never ask you to call or text a phone number or share personal information. Please report suspicious activity using the “Report Abuse” option.

Learn More

How to copy or import old e-mails?

  • 7 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • 307 views
  • Last reply by tpeters

more options

I got a new desktop box and installed Kubuntu on it. On my old box (Mint) I used Thunderbrid and I want to preserve my years of e-mails I stored on mail folders on my PC. On the new box I created my e-mail account making sure that it was not using the default mbox (all e-mail in 1 file) but maildir (each e-mail in its own file) as on the old box. But when I copy the "Local Folders" from my old to my new Mail directory, Thunderbird does list the directories (with subdirs " cur" and "tmp"), but does not appear to recognise the e-mail files.

In Thunderbird under menu there is "Tools" that has a wizard " Import". However when I select to import Mail, I only get a message "No application or file to import data from was found."

So how can I import my old mail files in the new Thunderbird instance?

Chosen solution

@Stans: I now copied the entire .thunderbird directory (which included Local Files) from my old to my new host, and now finally the new Thunderbird can read all my old messages.

A detail: I reported that when importing with InputExportTools I only got to see the messages of the last 2 months. It now became apparent that the last few months the e-mails have been saved as .eml, whereas the older files (that do not have a .eml extension) are in mbox format according to the `file` command. I don't know the reason for the change, I suppose a recent update of the program changed some settings. I find it silly to use mbox format for each and every individual message file, I don't know where that came from. I abandoned mbox a long time ago for several reasons, some are mentioned in the maildir-thunderbird page that Stans referred to.

I switched to Thunderbird 2,5 years ago, I am disappointed that the bugs in maildir support have not been ironed out since then. In any case thanks to Stan for his continued interest and good suggestions.

Read this answer in context 👍 0

All Replies (7)

more options

Use the ImportExportTools NG add-on to import the eml files.

Modified by Stans

Helpful?

more options

Stans said

Use the ImportExportTools NG add-on to import the eml files.

@Stans: I found and installed the add-on. When I open it from the Thunderbird dropdown menu I only get configuration tabs (see screenshot), I appear not to be able to start it. BTW it only mentions mbox settings, not maildir or EML. When I run menu Tools > Import, it still complains that there is no program. The User Guide suggests that there are several context menus but I do not get to see them.

Helpful?

more options

Debug shows that there is a problem with the manifest, and 2 syntax errors. Thunderbird 68.8.0 for 64-bit Linux; ImportExportTools NG 4.1.0 See screenshot:

Helpful?

more options

Does it not show when you right-click a folder?

Helpful?

more options

@Stans: Ah, OK, right clicking on Local Folders does give me a drop down menu with ImportExportTools. But effectively, no. If I do not already have folders to import under the new Local Folders subdir, I can only select to import an mbox file, which I do not use. If I do copy a mailbox directory (with "cur" and "tmp" subdirs) into my new Local Folders, and restart Thunderbird, then I do get to see those new dirs and can rightclick on those: the ImportExportTools then allow me to import messages (or import all messages from a directory), and open a file search window. But in all cases Thunderbirds file selector ignores hidden directories, which is obnoxious since Thunderbird puts all its files under .thunderbird/.p1990gq.default . Now when I do copy my old mails to a directory that is not hidden, I can import them, and then I do get to see them within the Local Folders of the navigator at the left side in the Thunderbird application. However I only get to see the messages of the last 2 months or so. Also no new directories appear under the .thunderbird/.p1990gq.default/Mail/Local Folders/ , so apparently Thunderbird is still referring to wherever I put those mails and does not copy them under its own Local Folders directory. Why is it so hard to get this working? I use one and the same application, why does Thunderbird not recognise the old e-mails if I just copy its whole Local Folders directory from my old to my new machine?

Helpful?

more options

tpeters said

why does Thunderbird not recognise the old e-mails if I just copy its whole Local Folders directory from my old to my new machine?

It could be the limited implementation of Maildir support in Thunderbird. The bold notes and warning issued here https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/maildir-thunderbird speak for themselves. I expect you did your homework and were privy to those advisories before switching to Maildir. Why don't you try migrating the whole profile instead?

Helpful?

more options

Chosen Solution

@Stans: I now copied the entire .thunderbird directory (which included Local Files) from my old to my new host, and now finally the new Thunderbird can read all my old messages.

A detail: I reported that when importing with InputExportTools I only got to see the messages of the last 2 months. It now became apparent that the last few months the e-mails have been saved as .eml, whereas the older files (that do not have a .eml extension) are in mbox format according to the `file` command. I don't know the reason for the change, I suppose a recent update of the program changed some settings. I find it silly to use mbox format for each and every individual message file, I don't know where that came from. I abandoned mbox a long time ago for several reasons, some are mentioned in the maildir-thunderbird page that Stans referred to.

I switched to Thunderbird 2,5 years ago, I am disappointed that the bugs in maildir support have not been ironed out since then. In any case thanks to Stan for his continued interest and good suggestions.

Helpful?

Ask a question

You must log in to your account to reply to posts. Please start a new question, if you do not have an account yet.