How to Transfer Thunderbird Settings and Email on a Mac

By Alexia Petrakos

Thunderbird is a free, stable and secure email program with advanced spam filtering developed by the same people who released the Firefox web browser. While it's a popular program, it does lack the ability to move your accounts to a new computer easily. Facing an operating system upgrade? Or perhaps you need to move all your programs to a new computer. This article will show you exactly how to move your Thunderbird email settings and mail to a new environment.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple Computer
  • Thunderbird
  • Removable storage

Step 1

Launch Thunderbird on the "old" Mac.

Step 2

Empty your Trash and Junk folders for each of your email accounts. This will make moving your settings a little faster.

Step 3

Close Thunderbird.

Step 4

Locate your Default Thunderbird Profile folder named "XXXXXX.default" where the X's are a random mix of numbers and letters. On a Mac running OS X it's located in your Home folder (or if you have multiple users on your Mac, your user account's folder) > Library > Thunderbird > Profiles. Since it's possible to use multiple profiles on one installation of Thunderbird, you may have more than one.

Step 5

Copy all the files in the Default folder to your removable storage or a spot on the network, or directly to the new computer over the network. You can also choose to create a zip file and then move the one zip file. Compress the folders in the Default folder by selecting all the items in the folder, right-clicking and selecting "Create Archive of x Items" or "Compress x Items" (depending on which version of OS X you're running).

Step 6

Start up the "new" Mac running Mac OS X and download, install & launch Thunderbird. By launching Thunderbird, the program will create a new Default Profile in Home > Library > Thunderbird > Profiles.

Step 7

Shut down Thunderbird.

Step 8

Move (and unzip if you've made an archive) the contents of the Default folder from the "old" Mac to the "new" Mac's Default Profile for Thunderbird.

Again, the Default Profile folder is located in Home > Library > Thunderbird > Profiles and is named "XXXXXXX.default" where the X's stand for random characters.

Step 9

Relaunch Thunderbird--your old settings and email are ready for use in this new installation.