Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Migrating Your Kmail to Thunderbird

I have decided to quit Kmail and give Thunderbird a try. I've been wanting to do this for ages, but the process for moving mail from Kmail to Thunderbird is rather formidable. I will attempt to document my "method," much of which I owe to the above linked blogger, TiJaJoMa, and the rest to the creator of the below linked import addon for Thunderbird.

1) I installed this add-on for Thunderbird... thanks, Kaosmos! (Click the download link at the bottom of the page, then in Thunderbird you'll have to click "Tools -> Add-ons -> Install" and then navigate to the .xpi file... on mine it landed on the desktop).

2) My Kmail folders were maildir format, so within Kmail I had to do this for each folder:
  • For a folder named Family, I created a new folder named FamilyM or FamilyMbox or whatever. Make sure when you are creating the folder that you select the mbox format!
  • move all the mail from my original folder to the new one.
  • delete the old empty folder, just to avoid confusion
3) After all the folders were converted to mbox format I chose to leave them with the temporary name (e.g. FamilyM), so as to make them easy to identify in the next step.

4) I created a folder on my desktop called "TempMail."

5) Using the Konqueror file manager to navigate to /home/les/.kde/share/apps/kmail/mail, I copied all the "" folders into the new TempMail directory on the desktop.

6) In the new TempMail directory, I deleted the "." from the beginning of each of these folder names, so they would be visible to the importer script.

7) In Thunderbird, I created a new folder named Family (or Whatever) by right clicking on "Local Folders" in the folder tree, and selecting "New Folder"

8) Then I right-clicked on the new folder just created, selected "Import/Export," and "import mbox file," then "Select a directory where searching the mbox files to import." (Italian English?)

9) A box opened where I had to navigate to the TempMail folder on my desktop, and select one of the "" files therein, and click "Open."

10) I then was asked "Do you want to import the file /home/les/Desktop/TempMail/Whatever?
I clicked "Yes!" and guess what? It worked!

11) Finally it was time to rename all the new Thunderbird folders, because the importer script adds a random 3 digit number to the folder name, to avoid the possibility of overwriting an existing mail folder.

Whew! I know this is going to be automated someday! I hope this helps someone. Let me know if it needs clarification.


  1. Having, in the remote past, migrated from Thunderbird to Kmail, I would not recommend anyone to follow your example. Kontact/Kmail does an excellent job, from my point of view at least.

  2. I agree that Kontact/Kmail does an excellent job, and likely will be better yet in KDE 4.x.(or perhaps already is). But as I said, I've been wanting to try Thunderbird for ages, especially now that you can integrate the Lightning calendar as a plug-in. How would I know which was better without giving the competition a try?

    Thanks for stopping by!