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Import maiboxes into Thunderbird Apps
The new nightly release of Thunderbird (10.7mb download) sees the inclusion of Kevin Gerich's wonderdul pinstripe theme into Mozilla's Thunderbird. It's a wonderful app, and is now my default over Apple's, but it does still have some omissions. For instance, the address book doesn't use Apple's standard Address Book, and you can't import's mailboxes –- until now. Before trying the following, make sure you back up all your data!

Go to your Library folder, usually located in your user's Library -> Mail -> *your default account*. Make a copy of the inbox.mbox (perhaps to the desktop), then control click on the copied inbox.mbox and select Show Package Contents. Locate the file called "mbox" and change its name to "inbox." Run Thunderbird, and set up an account (the same as the account in your

Close Thuderbird and navigate to the default user's mailbox, which is normally in your user's Library -> Thunderbird -> Profiles -> Default -> [random_string] -> mail -> *your mail account*/. Overwrite the inbox file with the file you've just changed in the Inbox.mbox. This worked for me, although I can't confirm any attachments. I guess you could do this for all your accounts / drafts / outboxes / archives as well, to restore all your old emails. Obviosuly if it fark's your machine - I take no responsability, but I hope it helps some people. I'm now going to convince my director we should be running TB on all clienst (open-source rocks).

[robg adds: I'd love to say I tested this, just to check out Pinstripe, but the latest nightly builds won't run at all on my G5. I tried the last three or four, and they all failed -- even after trashing all Thunderbird-related files on my drive. I'll have to test later on another machine...]
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Import maiboxes into Thunderbird
Authored by: BPlaney on Apr 06, '04 05:17:40PM

How does Thunderbird compare with Entourage? I really like Entourage (one of the only MS apps for which this is the case), but I'll switch if a compelling argument (based only on features and functionality) can be made. I switched from Safari to Firefox with no regrets...

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: Crimson Napkin on Apr 06, '04 07:46:11PM

I'd like to know why you Thunderbird users out there would choose it over I don't know much about the details of Thunderbird and don't really want to pour through the literature about it. Just looking for an informed summary of why it is better than Apple's freebie.

--- is one reason PC users should switch to a Mac.

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: krykertano on Apr 06, '04 08:11:25PM

Honestly, Thunderbird stinks in comparison to It's slow and it's not really Aqua native--all the UI elements feel like they're pasted on with Elmer's glue. I'm pretty sure most people who prefer Thunderbird do so because they're rabid open source zealots.

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: seedy on Apr 07, '04 09:48:50AM

As an ex-AppleCare rep, I can say that the most rabid zealots in the computing world are Apple-zealots. They're the kind of folk who care more about GUI than functionality.

When Apple's Mail was peeing itself retrieving mail over a cable connection, many of these folks didn't want to try Mozilla to see if the issue was a connection issue or a Mail issue, but those who did got their eyes opened when Mozilla instantly grabbed their messages without a problem, while Mail kept putting up error messages about server problems.

Mail was one of the worst things we had to support, the program AC reps hated the most, next to Keychain.

While I worked there I refused to use Mail because it was so incompetent; one day they sent out an attachment, a Word file, and then had to send it again because Mail couldn't handle it. Mozilla handled it the first time without an issue.

So on a corporate LAN, Mail even makes Apple look bad, yet the Apple zealots insist that everything's fine, you're just thirsty, drink more koolaid.

Mozilla does two things that no Apple products do:

-You can hold-click on a link in an email and open it in a new tab, leaving your other tabs undisturbed (tabbed browsing did not debut on Safari, btw, but Safari is based on KHTML, which is product of open-source zealots)

-You can hold-click on a web page, choose Send Page from the menu, and Mozilla will open a new email with the page attached. Yeah you could write an Applescript to do the same thing, but then you'd be acting like an open-source zealot, no?

Nothing is Disposable

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: seedy on Apr 07, '04 09:54:36AM

Also, if you want to make Mozilla look better, find a theme called Apollo for it, since Gerich hasn't updated Pinstripe for Moz lately.

The page with Aaron's themes is here:

Nothing is Disposable

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: krykertano on Apr 07, '04 05:38:35PM


FYI, Thunderbird isn't Mozilla--in particular, it lacks the ability to do the two things you pointed out. And when was the last time you used It's improved a lot in the last three years, you know...

And by the way--this is so irrelevant it verges on ridiculous to mention--the KHTML team is much less afflicted by open-source zealotry than the Mozilla project. Browse around Bugzilla for long enough, and you get the impression these people working on Mozilla are concerned about correctness above practicality and didacticism above good taste. Contrast with KHTML, which (for example) renders poorly coded pages much better than the Mozilla engine.

I stand by my assertion that Thunderbird is a bloated piece of poop (who the hell wants an XUL interface but open-source zealots?) even in its latest incarnations. I understand there are people who might need to use it for its special features, but I am unaware of any of these features that lacks. Would you enlighten me?

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: bezvardis on Dec 06, '04 10:35:49AM

I have no particular prejudies agains any of the programs but still after a short trial of I switched to Thunderbird. For two reasons:
1) I did not like the drawer with mailboxes on the right hand and could not figure out how to change that,
2) When typing my reply mail, the font seemed so tyiny that I had to use 16p instead of normal 12 to prevent my eyes getting hurt. And I could not figure out how to zoom in that window.

Thunderbird had better situation with both of these things. Sometimes it gets a bit slow but in general it does not have any serious problem.

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: dik on Apr 07, '04 09:50:08AM

We have a serious problem with here at work that results in users having to put in passwords up to 15x times a day.

There's no way I'd recommend Micro$oft, and Eudora is seriously flawed - so when Thunderbird came along its seemed a wothwhile alternative.

As in my original post, I pointed out it does have some major flaws - but seeing as its a nightly build that incorporate the pinstripe theme, you have to respect it as an app that isn't 100% finished.

- oh and the fact that I'm religous about open source (some may say even a zealot), but hell its a pretty good stab for a free aplication (and one that stay that way (can anybody say iDisk))...

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: dik on Apr 07, '04 09:52:35AM

damit this was supposed to be in response to ST's post...

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: nesius on Jul 11, '05 03:25:08AM

One reason and one reason only for me.

I cannot figure out how to get Apple's program to display plain-text attachments inline.

Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.... no problem. - simply shows an attachment. Double-clicking results in a prompt to choose an application even though the attachment is already defined by the mime headers as 'text'.

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: st on Apr 07, '04 08:01:59AM

There are three major reasons for me to stick with Mozilla, which has an even uglier GUI than Thunderbird, but has more or less the same functionalities:

1. Option to prevent remote images to be displayed. Remote images are images that are not sent together with the message but that are downloaded from a website. With this option activated, most spam is rather harmless, sparing me images that I definitely do not want to see.

2. Folders separated by accounts. I have two IMAP mail accounts: private and business. With Mail it is not obvious which folder is on which account. With Mozilla and Thunderbird they are in two diferrent branches of the mail archive hierarchy. In fact, Mozilla supports full hierarchies, Mail, unless I'm mistaken, does not.

3. Incremental search (what some call find-as-you-type) in the message body. It's still the fastest user interface for searching texts.

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: Crimson Napkin on Apr 07, '04 03:14:13PM

Wow. That open up a can of worms, lol.

Anyway, I appreciate the advice about Thunderbird. Sounds like, as someone with only 1 mail account, switching to Thuderbird (or Mozilla's mail) might not really be worth it. I've personally never had one bit of trouble with so I think switching would end up being not worth my time. Thanks!

(btw, I AM thinking of switching back to a Mozilla product for browsing instead of using Safari. As much as I like Safari, the fact that it cannot handle certain sites (usually secure, financial ones) is a major problem for me.)


--- is one reason PC users should switch to a Mac.

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Thunderbird vs. why?
Authored by: peterjcarr on Aug 16, '04 12:46:18PM

Ever since updating via Software Update to 10.3.5 (from 10.3.4) circa Aug. 2004 my Mail application crashes regularly. About once every ten minutes.

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Import maiboxes into Thunderbird
Authored by: ichnisan on Apr 06, '04 09:10:47PM

I tried it and it does indeed work, however, there is one small change to make.

When you change Inbox.mbox to just InBox in Finder, it becomes(always was) just another folder, which contains a file called mbox this is the file which you want to move into the specified thunderbird directory and rename to match whatever folder you are replacing.

Also in the thunderbird folder in addition to the InBox file, there is a Inbox.msf file, if you have ever had anything in the inbox. It is probably a good idea to remove that file as it seems to be an index of the actual InBox fle. Might get a bit messy if you dont remove it. Though I didnt decide to test it.

I am just trying Thuderbird out to see if I like it, so I can't yet comment on it compared to, however, compared to Entourage it is great. Of course I switched from to Entourage and then switched back to after deciding that Entourage sucked. I specifically hated the search function in Entourage, it was fairly sophisticated in that you could refine your searches very well, but, it took for freaking ever to run a search on my mailboxes. Yes I did have a very large Mailbox at the time, but was able to search it quite quickly.

So far I have only one complaint about Thunderbird, if you have multiple accounts, it will only let you search in one of them at a time. I worked arround that by setting filters so that all the mail goes into local folders anyway, so it wasnt a big deal.

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Import maiboxes into Thunderbird
Authored by: ichnisan on Apr 08, '04 12:38:08AM

I am happy to report that the reverse process, moving mail back to works great as well.

To import, open, create a mailbox, close
go into that mailbox in the command line, or rename it in finder getting rid of the .mbox extension so you can go into it


delete content_index and table_of_contents, then copy the Thunderbird file which contains the mail you are moving into this directory, rename it to


then if you changed the Mailboxname.mbox folder in finder so you can get into it, change it back to Mailboxname.mbox

open and it will re-create the index and table of contents.

I like Thunderbird, I really did, but the lack of support for vCards, no builtin Calendar app, yeah I know doesnt have one, but it can be used with iCal. Basic integration with other parts of the OS was a problem, for example integration with a browser, Thunderbird is a stand alone email app, which is fine, but there was not any easy way to use it in conjunction with Safari(i.e. click a mailto link) or even Mozilla 1.6 or firefox.

Since I was not on a crusade for opensource, I switched back.

[ Reply to This | # ] vs Thunderbird
Authored by: bouddi4 on Jun 09, '05 02:39:30AM

Mail is very good, particularly dynamic searching across multiple mailboxes. My big problem was lack of "read receipts". Most of my mail recipients don't send acknowledgements but won't block read receipts, so after wasting a lot of time chasing responses, I haved moved reluctantly from Mail to Thunderbird.

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Import maiboxes into Thunderbird
Authored by: shdw on Mar 27, '08 12:59:51PM
Here's an update for those who would be searching this for a while.

A conversion tool exists to convert .emlx files ('s email format) to mbox "databases" compatible with Thunderbird and many other emailing apps.

Hope it helps someone !

- shdw -

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