Importing Outlook Express Emails Into Thunderbird And Evolution - Page 3

5 Evolution - Importing Emails

Evolution can read the format in which Thunderbird stores its emails (mbox format), so we can use Evolution's import wizard and point it to Thunderbird's mbox files. As you know these files are in subdirestories of ~/.mozilla-thunderbird. The dot before mozilla-thunderbird makes that .mozilla-thunderbird is a hidden directory. To be able to navigate to that directory and pick mbox files, we must tell our file browser (Nautilus if you use GNOME) to show hidden files.

Open a file browser and go to Edit > Preferences. On the Views tab of the File Management Preferences window that pops up, select Show hidden and backup files:

Then close the file browser and open it again. You should now be able to see files and directories that begin with a dot. If this doesn't work, log out and in again.

Now start Evolution. If you haven't used Evolution before, the Evolution Setup Assistant will come up, and you must use it to set up your first email account in Evolution (I'm sorry, but email accounts cannot be imported into Evolution - they all have to be set up manually):

Now that you are in the main program, go to File > Import...:

The Evolution Import Assistant comes up. Click on Forward:

Select Import a single file:

Now click on the folder icon and go to the Mail/Local Folders directory within your ~/.mozilla-thunderbird profiles directory.

In that directory you can find all mbox files from which you can import emails. There should be one mbox file for each mail folder you had in Outlook Express. These mbox files do not have an extension, so don't pick those .msf files you see there.

If you had subfolders in Outlook Express (e.g. subfolders of the Inbox folder), you can find them in extra directories in the Local Folders directory. These extra directories have the extension .sbd:

Of course, you can import mbox files from these subdirectories, too:

Now that you've chosen an mbox file to import, click on Forward:

The default destination folder is Inbox. If you want another folder, click on Inbox:

A new window pops up. Either select an existing folder as the new destination folder, or click on New to create a new one:

After you have selected the destination folder, click on Import:

The selected mbox file is being imported into Evolution:

Afterwards, you can find your Outlook Express emails in Evolution:

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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,