How-To: Import Thunderbird Emails to Evolution

2 minute read

Lately, I wanted to make the move from Thunderbird to Evolution.

The main motivation for this move was the fact that Evolution is by far well more integrated with Gnome Desktop, Beagle

This Tutorial will explain how one can import mails from Thunderbird to Evolution.

Changing email client can be a risky task, as you usually want to keep your old email just in case you need to refer back to it. This can usually be easily done by using the Export function from the client you want to move from, and finally import to your new client using the Import function.

Unfortunately, Thunderbird does not offer an export option yet. Because of that, importing your old mails to Evolution is not made that easy.

But, luckily enough, Thunderbird uses a standard mail box format: mbox. mbox format is suported out of the box by Evolution through its import feature.

Now, we know that we can easily import mails from thunderbird, the only thing left, is to find out where those emails files are… The location can be found through the account properties page. In Thunderbird go to Edit->Account Settings… and select the account you want to import the mails from, then select the sub-entry Server Settings and look for the Local Directory text field. It should look like:


If you ‘ls’ this directory, you will find a collection of files and directory. Lets take Inbox for instance. We have:

  • Inbox.sbd directory
  • Inbox.msf
  • Inbox

Inbox.sdb is a directory containing all subdirectories and their messages that you might have create under Inbox folder in thunderbird.

Inbox.msf is a file containing a summary of your emails for better performance.

Finally, Inbox file contains your mails in a mbox format!!! This is the file you want to import in Evolution.

So, now, let’s import our Thunderbird Inbox to Evolution. In Evolution click on File->Import. This will open up a wizard window. Click Forward, choose Import a single file, click forward again. In the new window, open up the file browser, and make your way to /home/user/.mozilla-thunderbird/gfdse2df.default/Mail/ . Mind that you might need to right click in the file browser window to enable the “Show Hidden Files”.

Select your Inbox file and that’s it. Evolution is going to import your thunderbird files.

If you created a lot of sub directories, you will have to go through every files (without the .msf extension) and sub-folders under Inbox.sbd.

Hope this helps,