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10.5: Make Spotlight index Thunderbird 2.0 messages Apps
After some work, I finally managed to get Thunderbird 2.0 and Leopard's Spotlight working together -- at least it is good enough for me, but it is still far from the kind of integration you get between Mail.app and Spotlight.

Here are the numerous steps I took to get it working (I use two GMail accounts managed via IMAP):
  1. Download the Thunderbird.mdimporter. Double-clicking on it should install it in /Library » Spotlight.
  2. In Thunderbird, open Preferences » Advanced » General » Configuration Editor. Set mail.spotlight.enable to true.
  3. Reboot your Mac and verify that the Thunderbird.mdimporter is registered by checking the output of /usr/bin/mdimport -L in Terminal.
  4. Create a Thunderbird.emails directory in your user's Documents folder.
  5. Make sure Thunderbird is not running, then copy the ~/Library » Thunderbird » files » xxx.default » ImapMail directory into your newly-created Thunderbird.emails directory. If you are adventurous and short on disk space, you cant try a move instead of a copy, but you are on your own ... and no, a symbolic link does not do the job.
  6. Kill the network, start Thunderbird, and go to Account Preferences. For each account, change the Local Folder setting under Server Setting to point to the new corresponding directory under ~/Documents » Thunderbird.emails » ImapMail.
  7. Restart Thunderbird, start the network, and make sure everything is working. If it is, delete the ~/Library » Thunderbird » files » xxx.default » ImapMail directory.
Spotlight searches should now return your emails, and they'll show up in the Documents category.

Notes:
  • Generation of .mozeml files by Thunderbird takes a very long time, and follows its own logic. Be patient. You can check the live progress of their creation by typing mozeml in the search box of the Spotlight window.
  • Generating those mozeml files defeats the purpose of IMAP if you use IMAP to avoid a local copy of your emails.
  • Generating those mozeml files significantly increases the hard drive space requirements for Thunderbird -- each mozeml file is at least 4KB in size, and some are eight times that size.
[robg adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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