Export messages and folders from Thunderbird to Outlook / Outlook Express / Windows Mail

I was tired of some problems I experienced with the Thunderbird database and the lack of support of Windows Desktop Search.  So I decided to migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook.

I found several tutorials explaining how to do it using the free tool IMAPSize.

The problem with this procedure is that email conversion using this tool requires you to manually select each Thunderbird directory that contains the messages of each folder. It is fine for a few directories but a very long task if you have more than a hundred.

In addition to this issue, I found some export problems using the tool: it works with most of the messages but there are some problems with certain messages that are created with a wrong structure or with problems in the header (e.g.: empty subject and wrong received timestamp) when importing into Outlook Express / Windows Mail.

Looking for another method, I found a free tool Tbird2OE from PractiSoft. It is rudimentary but it does the first job: it exports all the messages to eml format keeping folder structure and no errors.

To import messages into Outlook Express / Windows Mail, the tutorial suggests to drag them in each exported folder. Again, this is simple for small amount of folders but it could take considerable amount of time if you have lots of folders.

For that reason, with the help of our Custom Software Development and Outlook Plugin Development teams I wrote a tool to import the exported messages using our product OEAPI to store messages in Outlook Express / Windows Mail.

Here is the step-by-step tutorial:

  1. Compact messages (recommended but optional)
  2. Make sure you have lots of disk space free to store the messages (from Chuck).
  3. Use Tbird2OE to export messages from your Thunderbird profile:
    • Top edit box your mail root in the top edit box, usually something like this: C:Documents and SettingsUserNameApplication DataThunderbirdProfilesawfiwoeu.defaultMailLocal Folders
    • Bottom edit box: any path where the emails will be stored in eml format keeping folder structure
  4. Install OEImportEml:
    • Set the same directory that you specified in Tbird2OE as export path (the bottom edit box)
    • Set Thunderbird ‘Sent’ folder if your installation is not English (the folder specified here is forwarded to ‘Sent Items’ in Outlook Express / Windows Mail)
  5. If you want to use Outlook, run Outlook and select to import messages from Outlook Express / Windows Mail

Windows 7

User Edgar reported that the process works using Outlook 2007 and Windows Live Mail but no account set up.

Another option reported by Johnny Y.: To Migrate messages from an XP to Windows 7 PC, use Outlook on the original XP PC to import from Outlook Express. Then Export to a PST and transfer PST files to the new Windows 7 PC and import, since Windows 7 does not come with Outlook Express.

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