Migrate emails from Thunderbird mbox on Linux to Outlook 2007

April 16th, 2011 Atie Uhan

I bought the software to be part of a solution for a very specific problem:

I needed to migrate emails from Thunderbird (mbox format) on Linux to Outlook 2007 on Windows 7 RC1. I had been using Thunderbird for some time to collect POP3 email before starting to use Windows 7 – and for a while I was running them both and collecting mail (POP3) on both clients.

This migration requires the following steps as I saw it:

1. Save .mbox files from Linux installation

Thunderbird does not offer any way to export mails so it is required to work with .mbox files

2. Convert .mbox to individual .eml files

Outlook does not offer any method for importing the .mbox format directly so another step in the process is required. I chose the special Thunderbird extention – ImportExportTools (enchanced MboxImport) to convert the .mbox to eml files. Note that I assumed that there would be an easy way to then bring these into Outlook 2007 although this was not to be – see next point.

To install the extension, follow this procedure:

  • If you are using the Windows system you can download the free mbox to eml converter and extract emails from mbox files
    OR
  • Rright clicking on the link and choosing “Save target as” to download the Thunderbird addon xpi file,
  • Run the Thunderbird, select “Tools” then choose “Addons” (or “Extensions”) and click on “Install”
  • Pick the xpi file you downloaded and follow the instructions
  • Restart Thunderbird
  • After that you can use following options to save emails from thunderbird to EML files: Tools Menu > ImportExportTools or File menu > Save selected messages

Now e-mails are exported from Thunderbird to EML files and can be imported into Outlook using Outlook Import Wizard.

3. Convert eml files to msg files OR find a way to migrate eml files directly into Outlook 2007

Windows 7 RC1 does not offer any way of importing eml files into a native mail client (for example, Windows XP has Outlook Express and Windows 7 Beta – Build 7000 – has Windows Mail) and since Outlook 2007 does not allow this, the only way without installing yet another mail client such as Lotus Notes, is to find another product.

Outlook Import Wizard works well as I can point it at a folder of eml files and import them into Outlook. It then brings them into Outlook in a subfolder of the destination folder specified.

If, at this point, you simply drag and drop from the subfolder into the parent folder then duplicate items may then occur. It would be good therefore if you had the option of converting the eml files to a PST file (OR point 3. below) which would then allow an import operation in Outlook – when you import a PST into Outlook you have the option of how to deal with duplicate items – such as ignore, copy regardless…

As it was I had to write some VBA script to remove the duplicate items from a number of folder.

Outlook Import Wizard – the best way to import eml files into outlook. Outlook doesn’t support dragging and dropping of .eml files but you could use Outlook Import Wizard utility to import them into Outlook.

I understand that this is a very specific operation and the reason I needed a 3rd party application was that Thunderbird does not offer a real “export” feature and Outlook does not offer the ability to import eml files. That being said, in summary, the features below would be great in the Outlook Import Wizard – note that that the each point assumes that the preceding point is not achievable. For example, if point 1 was possible then 2 and 3 would not be required in my scenario.

1. Import mbox into Outlook

2. Convert mbox to msg (eml)

3. Intelligence to remove/avoid duplicates in Outlook during an import operation (regardless of the format)

Having said the above, the product works well for what I wanted it. Thanks.

Jonathan

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