When stuff just works: Moving from Thunderbird on Windows XP to Thunderbird on OS X

I’ve been using Gmail for a while now, but I like to have an offline backup of all my stuff – you never know. I’ve been using Thunderbird for this purpose, but I recently got a MacBook and only now got around to the problem of transferring my offline mail to it.

Every time I’ve switched computers, backing up and moving data has been a chore. Considering that I was moving between operating systems, I was fearing the worst.

Turns out I had no reason to worry – I just fired up Tbird in OS X, let it create a profile with an IMAP account (I have both IMAP and POP3 accounts), quit Tbird, and copied my Mail and ImapMail folders from the XP Thunderbird mail directory (under Application Data/Thunderbird/Profiles) into the corresponding directory in OS X (user/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles). Then I started Thunderbird, all my mail was available – the IMAP mail in the IMAP folder and the rest under Local Folders.

I wish all import/export/transfer/backup/restore operations were this simple!


5 Responses to “When stuff just works: Moving from Thunderbird on Windows XP to Thunderbird on OS X”

  1. Matthew H Says:

    Thanks for this tip – I was trying to do this for hours today and yours is the only website that actually worked!

    It would also be nice if there could be an easy way to copy the accounts across too.

  2. Are Wold Says:

    Thanks for the feedback!

    I really didn’t think about just trying the same for the profiles/accounts themselves – can’t remember if it was just because it didn’t occur to me or because it’s not possible.

  3. Luke C Says:


    thanks, i have been searching around for a while and just stumbled upon this. i haven’t tried it yet but im excited to not have to write command line strings in dos and what not ;)


  4. Are Wold Says:

    Good luck, mate!

  5. JuanManuel Says:

    Thanks for the tip… very usefull in my switch confusion.

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