Switching to Thunderbird

Switching to Thunderbird

Table of Contents

  • Switching from Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail to Thunderbird
  • Importing Windows Mail Messages
  • Importing Windows Mail Contacts
  • Importing from Outlook and Eudora
  • Eudora is not installed
  • Switching from Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail to Thunderbird

    Windows Mail is the default mail client included with Windows Vista. Windows Live Mail is the email client bundled with Windows Live Essentials. Both client programs store emails in the .eml file format. In order to export messages from Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail to Thunderbird, you must export messages from the Windows application and import them into Thunderbird. A similar method is needed to export contacts from Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail to Thunderbird.

    To find the location of the email files in Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail, go to Tools > Options > Advanced > Maintenance > Store Folder.

    If you do not see Tools, try File > Options > Mail… > Advanced > Maintenance… instead.

    Importing Windows Mail Messages

    Importing Windows Mail (.eml files) into Thunderbird is enabled by the third-party add-on ImportExport Tools. Download and install this add-on to transfer messages from Windows Live Mail to Thunderbird.

    1. Export your messages from Windows Mail in .eml format.
    2. In Thunderbird, create a folder in “Local Folders” to hold your imported mail and select it.
    3. Right click the folder and select ImportExportTools > Import all messages from a directory > also from its subdirectories.
    4. Navigate to the .eml files folder. The default location for Windows Live mail is C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail (or \Windows Mail).
    5. Click Open. Your data will be imported.
    Note: To be able to see the “AppData” folder, you must change the Folder Options to “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” first. See the Microsoft Support article Show hidden files for more information.

    Importing Windows Mail Contacts

    In order to import Windows contacts into Thunderbird, you must export the contacts to vCard files (.vcf format) and import the files into Thunderbird.

    1. In Windows Live Mail, open the Contacts and select all the contacts you wish to export.
    2. Click on Export > Business Card (.VCF).
    3. Select an empty directory to save these to.

    In Thunderbird, install the MoreFunctionsForAddressBook add-on following these instructions.

    1. Click on Address Book.
    2. Click on the address book you wish to import the contacts into.
    3. Click Tools > MoreFunctionsForAddressBook > Actions for Contacts > Import vCard / VCF.
    4. Browse to the folder where you exported your contacts to.
    5. Select all the contacts you wish to import.
    6. Click Open to import all selected contacts.

    Alternatively, if this does not work or is not supported in your case, you can try this:

    See the Export contacts from Outlook article at Microsoft.com for instructions on how to export contacts in Windows.

    After creating the required file, you can import your contacts using the import wizard:

    1. In Thunderbird, go to Tools > Import….
    2. Choose Address Books and click Next.
    3. Choose Text file (LDIF, .tab, .csv, .txt) and click Next.
    4. Choose Comma Separated (or All files) in the drop-down list at the bottom right, browse to the .csv file you just created, select it and click Open.
    5. Wait for the import to finish and click Finish.

    In the Import Address Book window that appears, use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to match the address book fields on the left to the correct data for import on the right, and uncheck items you do not want to import. When you are done, click OK. Your contacts should now be imported and ready for use in Thunderbird.

    Note that if you are having problems importing the fields properly (like when all record data to import shows up inside the first field row when inside the Import Address Book window), this is probably a result of an exported .csv file containing semicolons instead of commas, or the other way around. This usually happens because the separator in Windows Regional settings does not match the one for the Thunderbird locale, for instance when you exported a .csv file using an English Windows version and try to import it into a non-English version of Thunderbird. In this case, you should make the list separator match in your Regional settings before exporting the .csv file, or you could edit the already exported .csv file using a text editor and replace all semicolons by commas (or vice versa), and retry the import step.

    Importing from Outlook and Eudora

    The normal Thunderbird import process requires that you have Eudora or Outlook installed on your computer. If you do not have them installed, there are alternatives as noted below.

    To use Thunderbird’s import wizard, you must use an older version of Thunderbird, because the wizard is disabled for Outlook and Eudora in Thunderbird version 38 and newer versions. Install version 31.8, import your data, then upgrade to the latest version of Thunderbird via the built-in update mechanism.

    For Eudora, if you have data problems or crashes, try an even older version of Thunderbird and a tool to clean the data. An example of a data cleaning tool for Mac OS is Eudora Mailbox Cleaner.

    An alternative to Thunderbird’s import wizard is to find a tool to transform your data to mbox format (.mbx), and then use Import Export Tools add-on in Thunderbird to import the mbox files. One such mbox conversion tool for Eudora is Eudora Rescue.

    Eudora is not installed

    If Eudora is not installed and you want to use the Thunderbird import wizard, you can easily change the Windows registry to point to your Eudora files, then run the import wizard.

    • Create a .reg file called eudora.reg containing the following lines. Replace H:\\SCRATCH\\Eudoradata with the location of your Eudora data. (note the double backslashes and the blank line)
    === Registry file, adjust file location as required ===
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    "Current"="Anything H:\\SCRATCH\\Eudoradata Anything"
    • In a Windows command prompt, run “regedit /s eudora.reg”.
    • Use the Thunderbird import wizard.

    Switching from Web-based Email Applications to Thunderbird

    If you are using a web-based application provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to access your email, you probably only need to configure your account information to switch to Thunderbird. See Manual Account Configuration for instructions.

    Once you have configured your account in Thunderbird, you should be able to access all your messages (both incoming and sent). However, your address book (contacts), mail filters and other settings will not be automatically transferred to Thunderbird.

    Some web-base email applications allow you to export contacts in text or comma-separated formats. Check your ISP’s documentation for more information. To import contacts into Thunderbird, select Tools > Import… and follow the instructions on the screen.