Importing Outlook Express Emails Into Thunderbird And Evolution

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited 03/17/2007

This tutorial shows how you can import Outlook Express emails, contacts, and account settings into Mozilla Thunderbird and Evolution. This is quite useful if you want to switch from Windows to Linux but don't want to lose your mails and address book. The procedure should be similar if you use Outlook instead of Outlook Express.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

To export the mails and contacts from Outlook Express, we will install Mozilla Thunderbird on our Windows system. We can then use a wizard in Thunderbird to import the Outlook Express emails/contacts/settings. Once we have done this, we can move the Thunderbird directory that contains the imported files to our Linux desktop where we can "feed" the files to the Thunderbird installation on our Linux system. In an additional step we can import the mails and contacts in Evolution, but even then we need Thunderbird.


2 Install Thunderbird On Windows And Import Emails/Contacts/Settings

If Thunderbird isn't already installed on your Windows desktop, download the latest version from and install it.


2.1 If This Is The First Time You Start Thunderbird...

Then start Thunderbird. If this is the first time that Thunderbird is started, it will come up with an Import Wizard. This is exactly what we need to import mails from Outlook Express into Thunderbird. Select Outlook Express and click on Next:

In the next step your Outlook Express account settings, contacts, and emails are imported into Thunderbird:

Click on Finish to leave the Import Wizard afterwards:

Now start Thunderbird. You should find that your emails, email accounts, and address book have been properly imported (you can get a list of your email accounts under Tools > Account Settings...):


2.2 If This Is Not The First Time You Start Thunderbird...

If this is not the first time you start Thunderbird, no import wizard will come up. In this case, go to Tools > Import...:

Now you can select what you want to import (address book, emails, settings). If you want to import more than just one type of material, run the import wizard as often as you need.

Next, select Outlook Express:

Your data will then be imported into Thunderbird.

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From: at: 2008-06-22 07:02:47

I followed the instructions here and they worked very well.  However, I had already set up a user in Thunderbird (it was the same email address and user that was imported).

I tried editing the profiles.ini file to point to the new folder but that did not work for some reason.  Thunderbird thought that there was another instance running and would not open at all.  I ended up just changing the name of the folder that I had brought over from Windows to the one that was already established and it worked great.

 After checking the server settings (these did not all come across, or it may have been due to my circumstances of a previous installation) I am sending and receiving mail!


Cheers -




From: raj at: 2013-04-03 12:43:39

its working thanx:)


From: Anonymous at: 2009-01-18 18:52:32

Hay there is a easier way by directly exporting from the outlook.

Just follow the steps at



From: saravanan j at: 2009-07-16 11:27:13

Outlook to thunderbird mail convertion, very useful for me.



From: Nell at: 2009-09-11 09:28:29

I am transferring from a windows 2000 computer to a Mac OSX (the Mac email application would not install a stand alone pst file from outlook). I followed the instructions here and I now have all my old emails and addresses in thunderbird on the Mac (I could now easily import from thunderbird into the standard Mac OSX Mail programme if I wished). Thanks a lot. I edited the profiles.ini file in textedit on the Mac rather than via the console. FYI, the profiles on the Mac are stored in Users/username/library/thunderbird/profiles. Thanks Nell

From: Russell Smith at: 2014-11-19 11:16:03

Really, it is helpful for Outlook Express to Thunderbird migration.  Let me know the further steps for converting Thunderbird emails into MS Outlook.

From: Anonymous at: 2012-07-02 07:10:14

Very helpful. Thanks

From: Anonymous at: 2012-10-09 13:16:09

Excellent article... it helps me a lot!!!

From: Adam Stanley at: 2009-10-27 02:44:49

I just wanted to say thanks, and as a total Newbie to Ubuntu, I found your article superb. One area I had difficulty with was installing Thunderbird On Ubuntu, until I realised there was an Add/Remove (synaptic?? )in the Applications menu.

I seperately googled that, and got caught in some moments of awareness as I realised there were command line methods, and utility applications as well as me trying to make the whole thing too hard.

It might improve your article to 100% if you hyperlinked that one sentance to instructions (for the linux repressed) on how to install Thunderbird. It may not improve it either - just a thought I share with respect.

None the less, I am so deeply grateful to you for taking the time to prepare that document - I am now windows free with my accounts running in Crossover on a really old toshiba laptop breathing a new lease of life.

Kind Regards,