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10.4: Migrate from 2.0 to Thunderbird Apps
Tiger only hintI hadn't seen this hint posted here yet, though it seems to have been around the Internet for a while.

As you may know, with 2.0, the mailbox format on disk has been 'exploded' into individual messages (so Spotlight can search them), rather than being stored in a monolithic mbox-format file. This causes an issue if you would like to migrate to Thunderbird (don't ask why, I assure you that there are good reasons).

Credit where credit is due, I originally discovered the solution on this blog, which referred to this program (also hosted on Apple's downloads, right here).

I'm not going to repeat the steps documented in the above links, suffice to say that the idea is to merge the .emlx files into an mbox file, and copy that to where Thunderbird can see it. This will probably work for most people. However, when I did this, the message count in Thunderbird did not match the message count in If you don't have this problem, then hey, good for you. If you do, read on.

I also noticed that some messages were broken, and partial content was stored in new messages which appeared with no subject or date, and a strange Sender name of "the" or "this" or "Dubrovnik." What causes this is the fact that the messages in the .emlx files are stored in plain text, and are merged into the mbox as plain text. In the mbox format, the word "From" at the start of the line is used to indicate who the sender is. So, what happens if the message looks like this (in the mbox file)...
From Rubble, Barney Wed Nov 14 22:42:00 2001
From: <Rubble, Barney>
To: "'Fred Flinstone'" <>
Subject: Changes to rock processing
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 08:42:00 +1000
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
X-Priority: 3


They're changing the way we process the rocks.

From Monday the 19th, we are supposed to be cleaning the rocks
before they are airlifted by the pterodactyls to the site.

Doesn't make sense to me, but I'm not a rock engineer. What do you think?

Thunderbird picks up From Rubble, Barney and From Monday as new messages. So what you get is two messages, with only partial content in each. The second message will not have a date or subject, but the sender will be "Monday." So there will be more messages in Thunderbird than there are in (The version of this app that is hosted on the Apple site says something about a "From" field bug being fixed. Maybe it was. But this problem is still occurring.)

This is easily fixed, though:
  1. Open Thunderbird and view the offending mail folder.
  2. Sort the view by date (ascending) and scroll to the top.
  3. Check for messages with no subject or date and note the dodgy sender names.
  4. In a Finder window, browse to the location of the mbox file (~/Library -> Thunderbird -> Profiles -> random_dir -> Mail -> Local Folders/), and open it in a text editor. Keep Thunderbird open if you need to refer to it.
  5. For each of the dodgy sender names, do a search for the word From with the name after it, e.g. in this case: From Monday. When you find the text, make sure that it is actually part of the message content.
  6. Add a > in front of the From, e.g. >From Monday -- don't worry, this is the standard way to do it in an mbox file; it won't show up when you view the message in Thunderbird.
  7. Save the mbox file.
  8. Close Thunderbird.
  9. Delete the .msf file that Thunderbird created for the mbox (in the same directory and has the same name, but with .msf) -- don't worry, it's a metadata file that Thunderbird will rebuild next time.
  10. Start Thunderbird again and view the folder and make sure all those partial messages are gone, and the original ones are complete.
Lastly, to add to this already-long hint, if you find that you are now missing messages in Thunderbird (especially if at any stage in the past you imported messages from Thunderbird into, you might want to check out this other blog entry.
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10.4: Migrate from 2.0 to Thunderbird | 4 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Migrate from 2.0 to Thunderbird
Authored by: tim-wood-MacOSXH on Nov 18, '05 01:40:18PM

There's another solution. If the people who handle your email offer imap as an option, switch to using imap.

You can then copy all your messages to the server by dragging them to the new folder that represents in that represents your imap account.

Once you've done that, it's simply a matter of installing another email program (Thunderbird and Outlook both support imap) and entering your account information.

In the FWIW category, both Thunderbird and allow you to store copies of your imap messages locally so you can still have them when you don't have a net connection.

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10.4: Migrate from 2.0 to Thunderbird
Authored by: genericuser on Nov 25, '05 11:05:07PM
The following tutorial also seems to work (caution, its written in German ;-) ):

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Emailchemy (a.k.a. Email Alchemy) also seems to work well
Authored by: escoles on Dec 30, '06 06:50:50PM
Email Alchemy will translate from and to any of a number of formats. It seems to work well for 2.0, avoiding a lot of the work that this article's procedure entails. Costs about $30, which may or may not be worth your while depending on how much of your diet is made up of generic peanut butter.

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10.4: Migrate from 2.0 to Thunderbird
Authored by: nichos on Jul 03, '07 08:54:19PM

No longer necessary. According to the thunderbird FAQ:
"Mail 2.0 does not store message folders in mbox format; so you'll need to export your folders to mbox format. In, use Edit > Select All to select all messages in a folder, then use File > Save As to save the messages in "Raw Message Source" format. The resulting file will be an mbox file, that you can copy to your Thunderbird profile."

worked for me.

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