How to Switch From Outlook to Thunderbird Email

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Microsoft Outlook to Mozilla Thunderbird Message Import

My Outlook has been a real annoyance recently. It would not download any emails and then all of a sudden would receive a batch of 1-2 hours worth of emails at once. In the end, the only solution I saw was switching email programs to Mozilla Thunderbird. It’s very easy to install but importing email from Outlook is another story.

Install Thunderbird and Setup Email Account

  1. Download and install Thunderbird
  2. File > New > Existing Email Account
  3. Thunderbird should autodetect the POP3 connection information
    • Server Type: POP Mail Server
    • Server Name: secure.emailserver.com
    • User Name: xxxxx@domain.com
    • Connection Security: SSL/TLS
    • Authenticate method: Normal password
  4. Email from the server will start to download
  5. Tools > Account Settings. Under Server Settings, change “Check for new messages every” to 1 minute.

To actually import the mail, we’ll have to use two third party programs. The Outlook import method has been disabled in Thunderbird since version 31. Even after downgrading to version 31, I could not get it to work. The below method did work after some trial and error.

First, we need to export the emails from Outlook in the correct format.

MailStore Home

  1. Download and install MailStore Home
  2. Open MailStore Home
  3. Click on Archive E-mail
  4. Select Microsoft Outlook under E-mail Clients
  5. Double-click Microsoft Outlook which is now under Saved Profiles. This will run the backup and process each email.
  6. Click on Export E-mail
  7. Click on Directory (File System) under E-mail Files
  8. Select EML Files and ensure “All Folders” is selected
  9. Click Next
  10. Click Browse and select your Desktop as the Target Folder
  11. Once you’re done, double-click on Directory (File System) under Saved profiles. This will create the EML folders on your desktop.
  12. Close MailStore Home

Second, we’ll need to use another third party tool to import our backup into Outlook.

ImportExport Add-On

  1. Download ImportExport Tools add-on and save to desktop
  2. Open Thunderbird
  3. Click on the Menu icon, then Add-ons to open the Add-ons Manager
  4. Click the gear next to the search bar and select Install Add-on from File. Select the downloaded .xpi file on your desktop.
  5. ImportExport will now show under Extensions. You may have to restart Thunderbird.
  6. Tools > ImportExportTools > Import all messages from a directory > also from its subdirectories
  7. Select the Outlook directory from your desktop
  8. The import will run and create Outlook folders under Local Folders

Finally, I wanted to move the recently imported folders to a new location in Thunderbird. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to drag and drop the entire folder but this method did the trick.

Move Folders

  1. Under your account, right click and select New Folder. Type in the folder name.
  2. Under Local Folders, go into the matching folder.
  3. Click on the first email, then hold shift and press End. This will select all emails.
  4. Drag and drop all the emails into the New Folder under your account at the top.
  5. Do this process for each folder.

Since the move, Thunderbird has been an amazing tool. The search features have really helped me stay organized and find past emails within seconds. I’m also happy to report that I don’t have to change my font from the default Outlook blue each time.

If you can make it through the export and import from Outlook, I highly recommend Mozilla Thunderbird as your next email client.

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