Simplest way of exporting emails from Evolution to Thunderbird

I have taken Mark Greaves advice to move from Evolution to Thunderbird. Does anyone know of a simple and easy to understand way of getting all my e-mails over to Thunderbird?
Thanks in advance.


Set your Evolution up for an IMAP account, either by setting up an IMAP server on your own machine, or by using a hosted GMail or Zimbra account. This will appear as a second account in your list of accounts down the left hand side of the screen.

Then select your email in your local / Evolution mailbox and drag it onto the new account.
(then go make some tea, watch telly etc depending how much mail you have)

Once complete, configure Thunderbird to use the same hosted IMAP account.
In Thunderbird, select the IMAP account, select all the mail, drag and drop onto your local folder.

Yup, I’d do it Mad Penguins way… far easier than a million mouse clicks, but if want to do it manually… See here… it’s old, but should still work, as they both save in mbox format anyway:

remember if either have changed the way they store the mail, this sin’t going too work… Mad Penguins method will work no matter what.

This will help… a Thunderbird addon for importing mbox files, amongs other things:

The top link should tell you where to find the Evolution mbox files

Fantastic, now have all my e-mails and contacts in Thunderbird. Thanks for your tips .

Just one small problem - all incoming e-mails are still going to Evolution and not Thunderbird! The settings are identical so any idea what I’ve done? w2riong and how to correct it so I can close Evolution down altogether?


Uninstall Evolution :slight_smile: <— DON’T DO THIS… see below
Navigate to System>Preferences>Preferred Applications
and change the default mail application

How is the email arriving in Evolution?

Tip - there are three possibilities;

  • SMTP, mail is sent to your box and you are running a local mail server (I’m guessing unlikely?)
  • POP, your Evolution collects email from (and then empties) a POP mailbox located on the Internet
  • IMAP, your Evolution looks at email stored in an IMAP mail box located on the Internet

If I guess POP correctly, you will need to make sure Thunderbird has a matching POP setup, then delete the POP account from Evolution (or at least disable it).
Quiting Evolution is unsafe, at some point in the future you will inadvertently run Evolution and it will download your messages before Thunderbird can get to them. (I’m guessing as now)

I would recommend not uninstalling Evolution (reading Mark’s reply :wink: ) as Evolution is a dependency of many other applications and when you remove Evolution, it may well remove other applications that you want to keep.

MP is right DON’T uninstall Evolution, I forgot about Ubuntus dependencies… sorry, Mint user.

Navigate to System>Preferences>Preferred Applications
and change the default mail application

and again as MP says… remove the settings from Evolution, so it cannot pick up your email

You haven’t set Thunderbird to use the Evolution mail folder have you? (I’m guessing not, as in this case I would expect the mail to be seen by both programs)

Mmm, half in each application … unless you’ve checked the ‘leave mail on server’ option. (which is not recommended)

No, I was thinking that maybe he was using the same local directory as the mail store for both apps… so whichever downloaded them, they would both be able to see them as they both use mbox format.

Hi guys did as you suggested: Navigate to System>Preferences>Preferred Applications and changed the default mail application and disabled the settings in Evolution. Now I’m not getting e-mail in either.

Where do I find this “leave mail on server” option? Evolution or Thunderbird? Don’t remember clicking on it, but you never know!

How are you picking your mail up… POP(3) or IMAP… the leave mail on the server isn’t going to help you.

and who from?.. googlemail, etc

Actually, setting “leave mail on the server” just for now in Evolution (but not in Thunderbird) WOULD help… can’t tell you where the setting is though, I don’t use evolution… it will be in the settings somewhere.
Then if Evolution downloads your email… when you sort out Thunderbird it would still be there for it to download too… saving you having to move it between apps again.

This will handle all of my “active” messages. I suppose that similar will work for messages that I “archived”
into some other folder? Specifically, I already use IMAP from my ISP so that I might access email from
several nodes and from web mail. Each month, I “archive” from out there to local to reduce the quota that I pay for.
Evolution sees a OnThisComputer==>MyFolders==>{year-month} with a corresponding place in $HOME.

Using this approach, do I make an new IMAP folder out there and simply copy-to … with the corresponding cuppa
and telly?

Mail clients should handle copying from locallocal and localremote, but typically not remoteremote … as your archived folder should just be ‘another local folder’, you should be able to copy (or drag and drop) between locations, subject to the aforementioned rules …