How to open a mbox file? Mutt displays no mails when calling mutt -f sent.mbox.

The mbox format is "From" without colon.

Is there any mbox viewer for Linux?

Thank you in advance.

  • Mutt should be able to open an mbox file. It's normal to have a From line without a colon at the top: this is for the email's envelope. It's difficult to diagnose your problem without seeing the file contents. Of course I appreciate the file contents is probably too private to publish. Look at the file as a text file (for example with less). Is the From line followed by header lines (From:, Subject: and so on)? Is there a Lines: header, a Content-Length: header? – Gilles Mar 18 '12 at 19:29
  • It looks like this: pastebin.com/49fG0N7E I deleted the recipient, content and domain name. – chris Mar 18 '12 at 20:46

The first line of the mail is the “envelope From line”. It begins with the 5 characters From␣ where is a space character. This is normal.

From Christian xxx <cg@xxx> Mon May  15 20:22:35 2010

What is unusual is that the email address is between <…>. This is unusual. I don't know if it's against the RFCs or not, but I can see Mutt chokes on it.

You should get a valid mailbox (as in, one that Mutt can parse) by processing the mailbox file through the formail command from procmail Install procmail.

formail -ds sed '1 s/^From .* <\(.*\)>/From \1/' <sent.mbox >sent-reformatted.mbox
mutt -f sent-reformatted.mbox
  • I appreciate your answer. Unfortunately, formail doesn't add this header. RFC 822 / 4155 knows nothing about it. – chris Mar 18 '12 at 22:04
  • After reformatting the file with formail, four (of a hundred) mails are displayed in mutt. – chris Mar 18 '12 at 22:11
  • @chris How many files does formail -ds sh -c 'cat >$FILENO.mail' create? Can mutt read them as individual mailboxes containing a single mail? – Gilles Mar 18 '12 at 22:20
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    @chris Ok, I've reproduced this and found the problem: Mutt doesn't like it when the envelope From line isn't of the form From something@somewhere trailer text. In particular, it ignores a line where the envelope from address is John Doe <add@ress>. Now I'm going to see how to fix this. – Gilles Mar 19 '12 at 20:57
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    @chris I don't know whether it's a bug in mutt or in the program that produced this mailbox, but see my answer for a fix. – Gilles Mar 19 '12 at 22:12

Any text editor is capable of opening .mbox. Besides text editors Mozilla Thunderbird can open them too.

  • Do I have to copy the file to the Thunderbird profile? I don't want to change it. – chris Mar 18 '12 at 20:50
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    Yes. I was able to open mbox file in Thunderbird. This link provided the steps to be followed. commons.lbl.gov/display/~jwelcher@lbl.gov/… – prashanth Nov 29 '17 at 14:36
  • @prashanth 's link is a working solution. I could download my gmail archive as an .mbox file (takeout.google.com/settings/takeout) and open it with Thunderbird. All you have to do is place the .mbox-file in the Local Folder path on your file system. Before that you must create at least a newsgroup account with your real email adress (write anything as the news server address, it doesn't matter). Restart Thunderbird and then you have a new folder with all your mails and attachements. – aliopi May 9 '18 at 8:31

After a bit of nightmare on Windows with Firefox, where the .mbox gets open but only the first message is available, I found that Evolution works well: I created a new folder and then from File\Import... (I'm from Italy, the menu it's actually Importa...) I was able to read that old messages...

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    I dislike that by opening the mbox file, its really importing the file. – ThorSummoner Sep 1 '15 at 19:06

In order to view an mbox file in Thunderbird, I needed the following:

  • add the Import/Export extension, otherwise the "import" option in the Tools menu did not give me the option to import a file (only data, etc., from another account/app); and
  • to use an account which was configured for POP, not IMAP (since the import into IMAP is not possible -- at least with the mbox file I was importing).

With those two conditions in place, everything worked well, and the file was available "as mail" in Thunderbird after import (with attachments intact).

  • All the import/export extension does is copy the mbox file to thunderbird's local profile folder. You can also do that manually. – JanKanis May 22 '18 at 9:32

In thunderbird you can open the file by placing it in thunderbirds local profile folder, under $HOME/.thunderbird/<profilename>.default/Mail/Local Folders/ An .mbox file there will be picked up by Thunderbird and displayed. See also the detailed instructions linked by prashanth in a different comment.

protected by Community Oct 13 '15 at 14:29

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