My evolution (3.0.3) has a maildir directory:


folders.db says something about sqlite in it, I can't tell if there are mail messages in that file; the files under cur seem to have messages in them; but they are not in mbox format, and it doesn't look like all of the messages that I have under "On This Computer" are in these files.

There is no ~/.evolution/ directory.

How (and where if I'm not looking in the right place) does evolution store its email?


The default local folder implementation (for folders under "On This Computer") uses mbox(5) format, in which all the messages at the top level of each folder are kept contiguously in a single file, supplemented by some summary and index files. This structure lives under ~/.evolution/mail/local/. For every mail folder foo, some or all of the following files exist:


The file foo is just plain old mbox(5) format and you may access it (carefully, and preferably read-only) with a MUA which understands mbox format, i.e. nearly all of them. For example with 'mutt':

$ mutt -R -f ~/.evolution/mail/local/foo

You should only do this when Evolution itself is not running. Note that any of the supplementary files can be removed and Evolution will reconstruct them next time it runs. You can also grep the file for text strings or addresses for use in the normal UNIX world.

The foo file contains only messages. If the foo folder contains other folders the contents of the foo.sbd directory recursively look like the above list.

I can honestly say with out any hesitation that I have got this answer from think FAQ-Evolution web-page. you can review that for more information.

  • 1
    This answer applies to evolution < 2.32.0. – Dave Jun 24 '13 at 19:41

On my version of Evolution:

dpkg --status evolution | grep -i version

Local folders ("On This Computer"): ~/.local/share/evolution/mail/local/.<folder_name>

ls -a ~/.local/share/evolution/mail/local/ . .. ._2EDrafts ._2EDrafts.cmeta ..cmeta cur .Drafts .Drafts.cmeta folders.db ..maildir++ new .Outbox .Outbox.cmeta .Sent .Sent.cmeta .Templates .Templates.cmeta tmp

If you want to look at the cached IMAP e-mails, for example:


Your folders are going to be there as well as your mbox messages:

ls ~/.cache/evolution/mail/1441623493.6846.2@ubuntu/folders
Calendar  Contacts  Deleted Items  Drafts  INBOX  Journal  Junk Email  Notes  Outbox  Sent Items  Tasks  Trash

 grep -R 'mailfrom' ~/.cache/evolution/mail | head -n3 
~/.cache/evolution/mail/1441623493.6846.2@ubuntu/folders/INBOX/cur/3d/655:  smtp.mailfrom=yy@xyz; 
~/.cache/evolution/mail/1441623493.6846.2@ubuntu/folders/INBOX/cur/16/513: smtp.mailfrom=yy@xyz; 
~/.cache/evolution/mail/1441623493.6846.2@ubuntu/folders/INBOX/cur/16/512:  smtp.mailfrom=yy@xyz; 

From the help documentation in Evolution;

Evolution 3.6 and later stores its data according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. By default this means:

The user's data files


Various configuration and state files


Account settings


Disposable data caches


Configuration settings in GSettings


Evolution uses the Maildir++ specification for local folders, as stated in this commit. The emails end up in a cur folder, each in a separate file, named as such:


The VERSION is always 2. The FLAGS are the first letters of these words: Passed, Replied, Seen, Trashed, Draft, and Flagged.

Other mail readers, such as mutt, should be able to use these folders. It doesn't recurse in subfolders, though:

mutt -f ~/.local/share/evolution/mail/local/.Archives
  • That's a very old question but I hit it any way when searching for the answer. May it help others. – Christophe Drevet-Droguet Aug 30 '19 at 14:19

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