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I updated ubuntu to 11.10 using the update notification. I am also switching from Xubuntu to ubuntu - gnome interface. I have been using evolution for years and would like to port the emails to thunderbird.

I have looked at the similar questions with no luck and the thunderbird help on manually importing. Most of these assume that the evolution file structure is similar to the evolution file structure.

When I set up thunderbird it seems to have imported the contacts from evolution (and actually removed them from evolution. However no mail got transferred. I found the evolution mail in ~/.local/share/evolution/mail/local . this has folders.db and 3 directories - cur ,tmp, and new. then there are the hidden files and directories. Each directory has three related files with extensions .cmeta, .ibex.index, and Then all the directories had files that seem to contain the individual messages. I have not looked at rhyme or reason to the file numbering/naming scheme.

is there a nice way to import these files?

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possible duplicate ->… – hhlp Oct 15 '11 at 17:21
I have looked at that set of links as well. the evolution folder has all the directories as hidden files. Each of these has three folders:cur, new and tmp. Even if you take all the messages out of cur and put them in the sub dir in thunderbird, then the messages get interpreted as folders with nothing in them... thus unreadable. evolution folders do not have the .sbd extension as in the last link, they are just .higerdirname.lowerdirname – jim Oct 15 '11 at 17:56

Since the solutions above didn't work for me and because I think this should help a lot of users. Without guarantee ;-)

Why the problem is still relevant

I've had the same problem and unfortunately Evolution was not able to export the mails correctly as mbox files. So I searched a good amount of time and finally found a solution.

I have a lot of folders and really a lot of messages. For some reason Evolution created mbox-files being really big (about 2GB for 100MB of mails). The size wouldn't be that problem, but Thunderbird couldn't import that files.

The solution

So fortunately there is this python script which gives advanced users the opportunity to move mails from Evolution to Thunderbird.

The solution is described here:


I used: Thunderbird 12.0.1, Evolution 3.2.3, Ubuntu 12.04.

Using the python script to convert from maildir to mbox you can create a mbox-structure that is imported with only a couple of clicks:

  1. Better safe than sorry: Copy your maildir structure from ~/.local/share/evolution/mail/local/ to a directory of your choice - let's say /tmp/mail-copy/local
  2. $ cd /tmp/mail-copy/
  3. Use the script $ python local LocalMbox
  4. Open Thunderbird (should be installed and Import/Export Tools too)
  5. Right click on your Inbox and select Import/Export->Import mbox file->Import one or more mbox files, with its/their subdirectories and select the /tmp/mail-copy/LocalMbox file
  6. Enjoy your thousands of old mails :-)
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I really like this solution as it doesn't require Evolution to be installed (no exporting needed). – Beernarrd May 8 '13 at 21:48
I am adding the link to the same script in git: – Beernarrd May 8 '13 at 22:09

Have you seen this post?

  1. Backup Evolution: Alt-f, Backup evolution settings...

    Install Thunderbird from Ubuntu Sotware Center and setup Thunderbird with your mail account information. Close Thunderbird, after checking whether sending and receiving works.

  2. Open evolution and move all sub-folders (dragging them) to the highest level. Before going to the next step make sure no sub-folders exist any more. Then close evolution.

  3. Open Nautilus.

    Assure you are in your /home/yourname folder. Press Control-h, now you see all hidden folders and files below your own folders, by example: .aptitude Move to /home/yourname/.local/share/evolution/mail/local/Inbox.sbd Press F3. This opens another panel in Nautilus.

    In this panel goto /home/yourname/thunderbird/xxxxxxx.default/Mail/ServerName

    This servername you can find in Thunderbird account settings (Alt-e, a), go to Server Settings. Here you see the ServerName.

  4. Copy only the "mailbox file" files from your Evolution "Inbox.sbd" folder to the Thunderbird "ServerName" folder. Do not copy the other files like xxx.cmeta, xxx.ibec.index, etc.

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Unfortunately the above tip doesn't help me, it just create a mailbox file but, inside it, doesn't have all my messages. To solve the problem I did:

  1. a backup of the mail in the evolution program using its File -> Do a backup possibility. It will create a .tar.gz file.
  2. remove the Evolution program after purge it;
  3. install thunderbird and configure it to your account;
  4. re-install - from zero - evolution and, before accept all the indications, restore the .tar.gz backup: at this moment it will ask you if you want to migrate to maildir files and if so, it will create a mailbox just to 'in case' if you re grate the new format.
  5. go to /~.local/share/evolution/mail/local_mbox and just copy the mbox files
  6. paste it to your ~/.thunderbird/xxxdefalt/mail/localfolder

That's it.

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After trying all the above I found a much simpler solution.

Drag and drop your Inbox icon in the left pane of evolution to your desktop. A file called Messages_from_Inbox will be written. Now rename it to Inbox and copy it to


If you open up thunderbird it will now be there. Repeat this procedure with any other folders that you need.

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You also can select messages in Evolution and press Ctrl + S to save messages as 'mbox'. Then copy the file to ~/.thunderbird/xxxxxx.default/Mail/mail_acc/. When you start Thunderbird it will automatically create a folder with your messages

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