ImportExport Tools: A Thunderbird essential

Remember my last post about how Thunderbird didn’t have a proper import/export function? Since then I discovered, installed and used ImportExport Tools to allow me to import Mbox-formatted mail archives into my main Thunderbird installation.

I was able to easily bring all the messages from my Windows Thunderbird install into my OpenBSD Thunderbird, and now all of my e-mail is in one place.

The reason for this was switching over from IMAP to POP because I was (and am)  not comfortable leaving my mail on the server and want to have it all on my local drive (and backed up to CDs/DVDs).

To consolidate my two Thunderbird archives into one, I took the whole local directory from one, burned it to a CD, moved it to the other PC and then used ImportExport Tools to bring the folders into my current Thunderbird local directory one by one. Once I had the new folders in my new Thunderbird install, I then distributed the messages to the appropriate folders and deleted the temporary folders I created to hold the transferred mail.

I continue to think that this import-export function should be done wholly in Thunderbird with Mozilla-maintained code, but having an add-on that works is better than nothing at all.

Using IMAP, as I did for a few years, allows for quite a bit of flexibility, since the mail stays on the server and I can use any number of clients to access it from any number of machines.

To give me some added flexibility now that I’m POP-ping the mail down to one computer, I have Thunderbird configured to keep the last 10 days’ worth of mail on the server so I can use my mail service’s Web interface at any time to see all the mail in the past 10 days.

The one problem with this 10-day solution is that any e-mail I write in Thunderbird goes into the Sent file on my local machine and is never on the server. To get around this, if I write an e-mail that I’d like to have access to via the Web address, I BCC it to myself so it goes on the server as well.

I do the same thing if I write an e-mail in the Web interface, copying myself so I have it both on the server and in my local directory.

Before I close, I should say that I chose Thunderbird as my mail client because I’d been using it for a few years (and was comfortable with it) and because it’s a cross-platform app that runs in Windows, Linux, Mac OS and every BSD. I really like any app I can easily get in every OS I run (or might run).

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2 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, the import feature does not seem to work. I have posted on my website the result of installing ImportExportTools v.2.4.2 on Thunderbird 3.1.7 running under Ubuntu 10.10.

    As you can see, the option to import is grayed out.

  2. I just installed ImportExportTools yesterday and I’ve been unable to get ImportExportTools v.2.7.2.1 to do anything successfully on Thunderbird v12 or v13. Could it be because my profile and emails are stored on a non-default drive & folder? I right-click a folder and try the various export or import options and get nothing – no emails, no errors – nothing.


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