Switching from Evolution to Thunderbird – importing the works

Feb 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Linux / Freebsd, Technology

So today was the last straw with Evolution. It is just too buggy and too unstable of an email platform for me to use anymore so I began the dreaded migration of 1.1 GB of emails to a different client. Thanks to the awesome walkthrough below it turned out to be a lot less painful than I had imagined.

If you are using Evolution and are getting fed up of the little bugs and instabilities here and there then check out the article below on how to switch to Thunderbird:


A quick highlight :

Migrate local mail from Evolution

First, we will migrate the Evolution mails that are stored locally in your hard disk.

Open up two Nautilus windows (if you like, you can open two tabs instead of two windows). Press Ctrl + H to reveal the hidden folders. In one window, navigate to the .mozilla-thunderbird folder. You should see a folder with name similar to i7bqvbzk.default. Click on that folder, followed by Mail and Local Folders. You should see some files like Inbox, Trash, Unsent Message etc.


In the second window, navigate to .evolution -> mail -> local folder. Similarly, you will find files such as Inbox, Outbox, Sent, Trash etc.


Now copy the five files Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Templates, Sent from the Evolution folder to the Thunderbird folder. If it prompts you whether to replace the existing files, click Replace All.

If you have used any subfolders in your Evolution, you should see a folder with a .sbd extension (such as #evolution.sbd). In your Thunderbird folder, create a similar folder with the same name. Back to your Evolution folder, copy and paste all the files in the subfolder that don’t have a file extension to the Thunderbird subfolder.

That’s it. Restart your Thunderbird. You should see all your Evolution mails imported over.

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12 Comments to “Switching from Evolution to Thunderbird – importing the works”

  1. none says:

    yea, delete my above comment.. LOL.. still works!!!

  2. ZAKhan says:

    does not work with Thunderbird 9 and Evolution 3.2.2

  3. admin says:

    Care to elaborate? What wasn’t working with the process?

  4. yot says:

    works fine, successfully imported all my e-mails. thanks to all! hurray!!!

  5. yot says:

    Type your comment here


    works fine, successfully imported all my e-mails. thanks to all! hurray!!!

  6. rechard says:

    seems not working after trying the steps above, any help?

  7. Michael says:

    The basic process works with Evolution 3.2.2 and Thunderbird 10.0.2 with slight modification to the process. Since my Evolutin stores everything in in a signle file called folders.db. My process was:

    1. Have Evolution open
    2. Select a folder
    3. Highlight all of he messages inside that folder (if you don’t do this, you will only get 1 message)
    4. Select File > Save as mbx
    5. Save in the .thunderbird > i7bqvbzk.default (similar name profile folder) > Mail > Local Folders (You do not need the .mbx extension as it will show up in Thunderbird).
    6. Restart or open Thunderbird and your messages will show up.

    You will have to recreate your email folder structure and move the messages/folders within Thunderbird.

    Also, If you create your folder structure prior to the “Save as mbx” step, you can save directly into the .sbd folder.

    I also suggest that you delete duplicate mailboxes. For example, in order to have the “Sent” folder show up, I had to delete the Sent files (sent and sent.msf files), then proceed with the above process. During the “Save as mbx” step, name it “Sent” with no extension specified.


  8. Hemanth says:


    I am using 12.04 LTS and using evolution. When i take the backup of the evolution it saves as .tar.gz. Now I have installed thunderbird and i dont know how to export the mails from evolution to thunder bird. Can you please tell me what are the steps to follow.

  9. Emy says:

    Thanks Michael!
    Your way was the only works for me

  10. Emy says:

    Problem: the size of my thunderbird’s account became huge.
    On evolution, it was about 7,8G and at the middle of importing the size became 32G

    Not good for me!! No more free space !!

  11. Haris says:

    Thanks Michael, your suggestion worked also for me. Other suggestions I had seen around refer to migration from older versions of Evolution, which utilized .mbox files, and thus were inappropriate for migrating from the most recent versions of evolution (these versions, by the way, seem to be getting more and more full of bugs, in my experience).

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