How to Export to MBOX in Thunderbird

By Sean Hill

Mozilla Thunderbird stores your emails, trash and various settings in mbox files. These files can be exported for use on other systems or with other email clients. Doing so requires simply downloading an add-on and locating the files you want to export.

Things You'll Need

  • Mozilla Thunderbird (version 3.0+)
  • ImportExport Tools (version 2.3.4+)

Step 1

Go to the ImportExport Tools website.

Step 2

Right-click on the download link and select "Save Target/Link As."

Step 3

Save the ".xpi" file to your computer's hard disk and note the location.

Step 4

Start up Thunderbird and select "Add-ons" from the "Tools" menu.

Step 5

Click "Extensions" in the new window and click "Install."

Step 6

Browse to your saved ImportExport Tools ".xpi" file and click "Open."

Step 7

Click the "Install Now" button and close Thunderbird.

Step 8

Restart Thunderbird and select "ImportExport Tools" from the "Tools" menu. Click "Options."

Step 9

Select the "Export Directories" tab. Check the box next to "Export folders as MBOX file."

Step 10

Browse to the drive and folder to which you want to export your mbox files. Click "OK" twice.

Step 11

Select "ImportExport Tools" from the "Tools" menu again. Click on "Export all the folders."

Step 12

Choose a folder from Thunderbird's collective "Profiles" folder and its contents will be exported as mbox files.

Tips & Warnings

  • Mbox files that will be exported for each profile include: "Inbox" and "Trash." These files have no extensions.
  • The location of your Thunderbird "Profiles" folder depends on your operating system. If you use Windows Vista, XP or 2000, select "Run" from the Start menu. Type "%AppData%" and press enter. If you use Windows 7, type "%AppData%" in the Start menu's search box. If you use Windows 95, 98 or ME, access "C:\\WINDOWS\Application Data" in Windows Explorer. If you use Mac, navigate to "~/Library" in Finder. After you have performed one of these options, the remaining steps are the same for all operating systems. Open the "Thunderbird" folder and the "Profiles" folder is inside.
  • If you have multiple profiles, you will see multiple folders in the "Profiles" folder. You can export all your profiles' mbox files by choosing the collective "Profiles" folder in step 12.