A hard drive thought dead has started working allowing me to copy old Thunderbird profiles – and I think even one from Microsoft Outlook… The question is ‘how to import that information into the most recent Thunderbird profile?’

1 – Emails: (This also works for importing emails from Outlook)

When I did this before I think I used a program called Pheonix which may be ‘this‘ set of software, but it seems you need to pay now… Luckily for us there is a Thunderbird addon called ‘ImportExportTools‘ that we can use.
To install the addon “go to Tools -> Addons -> Extensions. Select the icon that looks like a gear (its actually a list box) near the top of the window and then “Install add-on from file”.
Locating your mbox files:
“Your folders are stored as mbox files in a profile. These are text files with the folders name and no file extension. For example your inbox folder is the “inbox.” file and the Sent folder is the “Sent.” file.”
“You can safely read one using a text editor to verify it contains mail messages though its not user friendly because it contains the raw message source, including all of the headers and big blocks of characters all run together whenever you have a binary attachment.”
  • Read this article to figure out where your profile is stored.
  • Go to your profile directory using Windows Explorer. If you’re not sure you found a profile look for a prefs.js file and a Mail subdirectory.

“If the folder was in Local Folders or you used a global inbox it will be somewhere in the “Mail\Local Folders” directory within the profile. Otherwise look for a subdirectory named after the accounts mail server. For example, if you’re using a Gmail POP account your inbox would normally be the “inbox.” mbox file at Mail\pop.gmail.com.”

“Ignore the .msf files, they don’t have any messages. You want the files with the folders name and no file extension.” (Note their small file size!)
You can then import the mbox files by choosing Tools -> ImportExportTools -> import mbox file.
Organizing your imported emails:
The next thing you might need to resolve is merging all imported emails and removing any duplicates. This was a must for me as I imported emails from a number of profiles.
What I did was merge all the emails into a master inbox, sent, drafts, etc. I then installed an addon called Remove Duplicate Messages. You can then right click on your master folders to delete the duplicates.

Note that for some folders (such as trash) I had to first move all the messages to a different folder first.

2 – Contacts:
“The address books that you use with Thunderbird or Mozilla Suite are by default stored in your profile folder. The two default address books, called “Personal Address Book” and “Collected Addresses,” are named “abook.mab” and “history.mab“, respectively. Other address books that you create in addition to these will also be named with the “.mab” extension, such as “abook-1.mab” or “abook-2.mab”.”
To import these address books we can use the MoreFunctionsForAddressBook extension to import the .mab files. (Another option is to use the Dawn utility to convert .mab files into .ldif. You can import a .ldif address book using “Tools -> Import -> Address Books -> Text Files” and then selecting the .ldif file(s).)

If you install the addon open the Address Book and import the .mab files from “Tools -> MoreFunctionsForAddressBook-> Actions for addressbook -> Import addressbook from mab file“.

The imported contacts will be put into seperate address books. To merge them simple open an addressbook and drag all the emails into the addressbook of your choice.
The problem now is that you will have lots of duplicate addresses. I couldn’t find an automated way to do this, but it shouldn’t take too long to do manually.

Note: to import contacts from outlook you can imprt the contacts into the windows address book and then import into Thunderbird using the Tool -> Import… wizard.

3 – Reference: