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How to Export Mail from Thunderbird to Outlook Express and Other Email Programs

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On The Move?

Be the switch voluntary or not, dreaded or eagerly anticipated, changing email programs is usually a challenge. To make sure it is not also a struggle accompanied by frustration and loss of data, you'll want to take your existing contacts, filters and, most importantly, emails with you in a smooth manner.

If your past email program is Mozilla Thunderbird and your future Outlook Express or another Windows email program, your starting point is good. Thunderbird has stored your messages in mbox files which can be opened in a text editor and are easily converted to other email programs. Let's find out how.

Export Mail from Thunderbird to Outlook Express and Other Email Programs

To import messages from Mozilla Thunderbird into Outlook Express (and, consequently, other email programs):

  • Download mbx2eml and extract it to your Desktop.
  • Click on the Desktop with the right mouse button.
  • Select New | Folder from the menu.
  • Type "mail".
  • Hit Enter.
  • Open your Mozilla Thunderbird store folder in Windows Explorer.
  • Open the Local Folders folder.
  • Highlight all files named like folders in your Mozilla Thunderbird that have no extension.
    • Exclude "msgFilterRules" and "Inbox.msf" as well as all other .msf files, for example.
  • Copy or move the highlighted files to the "mail" folder on your Desktop.
  • Open a Command Prompt window (via Start | All Programs | Accessories | Command Prompt).
  • Type "cd ".
  • Drag and drop the "mail" folder from your Desktop onto the Command Prompt window.
  • Press Enter in the Command Prompt window.
  • Type "mkdir out".
  • Press Enter.
  • Now type "..\mbx2eml * out".
  • Press Enter.
  • Open the "mail" folder from your Desktop.
  • Open the "out" folder.
  • From the sub-folders of "out", drag and drop the .eml files onto the desired folders inside Outlook Express.

If your Local Folders folder has any sub-folders with mailboxes you want to keep, repeat the process for each of these folders.

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