UPDATE (JAN-2017):

The following setup works fine since, approximately, July-2016:

  1. Windows 10 64 on PC1,
  2. Ubuntu 16.04 64 on PC2,
  3. Mozilla Thunderbird and Firefox recent versions (fresh installs on Windows 10 PC1, updated on Ubuntu 16.04 PC2),
  4. Shared Thunderbird and Firefox profiles between 2 PCs.

When sharing through a cloud service and profile folders on PCs are going out of sync (when working simultaneously in rare cases - just for experiment) several IMAP folders (those with the highest traffic) get duplicated. These duplicates are removed automatically, when synchronization completes.


Software versions: Thunderbird (v.24), Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Windows 7

I have the following setup:

I use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as a main working system (host) and Windows 7 running in VirtualBox as a secondary system (guest). I've created a profile in Mozilla Thunderbird (v.24) located in the folder accessible by both systems. Since VirtualBox uses the same user ID in the host system, there are no issues related to sharing the same folder between multiple users.

  1. I used Thunderbird running on guest OS (Windows) to create the profile and to setup the mail account inside the profile.
  2. Then I created a new Thunderbird profile in Linux and linked it (through profiles.ini) to the folder with profile created at step 1.
  3. I made corrections to the file prefs.js according to instructions here: http://web.archive.org/web/20050207141558/http://texturizer.net/thunderbird/share_mail.html (Replaced Windows-specific absolute path syntax with Linux-specific absolute path syntax, removed lines containing "[ProfD]").

I used the following sources of information:

  1. http://kb.mozillazine.org/Sharing_a_profile_between_Windows_and_Linux;
  2. the link mentioned in the previous section;
  3. http:@@//ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=203524

I tested this setup under Windows and Linux (I haven't tested them yet working simultaneously). Everything seems to work fine (currently I am keeping all my mail on the IMAP server, therefore all my inbox messages are not downloaded to the profile/account folder).


  1. My sources of information seem to be rather outdated (see above). I am not sure whether editing prefs.js file was required.
  2. It would be fine if someone who is engaged in development of Thunderbird could answer my question and tell the world what is the right procedure to organize the profile sharing between several instances of Thunderbird running on Windows and Linux (possibly, running simultaneously).
  3. What if the mail is downloaded from the IMAP server and stored in the profile folder?
  4. What if some instances of Thunderbird use extensions (Lightning) but the other don't?
  5. What if some instances of Thunderbird are running under different user IDs (i.e. the profile folder is shared between several users on Linux systems)? What steps in terms of chmod / chown / chgrp are required in this case?

In my opinion all these questions need to be answered if we are going to use Ubuntu Touch with Thunderbird on a mobile device accessing Thunderbird profile stored in the cloud (Ubuntu One?)/ NAS server. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

Thank you.


You don't. Thunderbird profiles are not meant to be shared across operating systems, or with other users. Syncing it in any cloud service is also a bad idea, as there are several files which are machine specific, and others which change quite often and can be numerous and large (such as the cache).

  • Thank you for your response. It answers all of my questions :) It seems like Thunderbird profiles were really designed to be local and "firmly" related to a particular device and a Thunderbird instance running on it. If you come across any white-papers or good tutorials on best practices of implementing Thunderbird in a BYOD environment - please share a link. – Dmitry Somov Nov 9 '13 at 14:22
  • I am sure Mozilla developers are thinking about it as well (What about splitting a profile and making one-half local and one-half independent of a particular device - i.e. shareable? Is it feasible?)... – Dmitry Somov Nov 9 '13 at 14:28
  • If Thunderbird internally supports a sync service for syncing your profile to other machines, you could use that. But syncing the on-disk files for Thunderbird is a generally bad idea. – dobey Nov 9 '13 at 16:01

Recently, I've tried the following setup: Thunderbird profile is stored in the cloud service folder and shared between Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 machines (synchronized locally). This set up works fine for me (all plugins are working fine). Thanks to Mozilla team - now it is really a cross-platform universal solution.

  • Could you edit the answer and add the version of Thunderbird on both OS's . Do you you know exactly at which version Thunderbird become compatible between the two systems? – user.dz Jan 7 '17 at 12:36
  • 1
    I've updated the question - added updated information on software and setup changes since 2016. Unfortunately it's hard to say now which Thunderbird version was first working fine in this setup. – Dmitry Somov Aug 6 '18 at 4:12

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