Computers and Technology

Step by Step Thunderbird to Outlook Migration Without Losing Attributes

Are you looking to switch from Mozilla Thunderbird email application to the MS Outlook platform. Well then, welcome to the list of hundreds fellow users going through the same pain; thousands of people who are in the middle of Thunderbird to Outlook migration process; and, millions who have already switched to Microsoft Outlook.

By the end of this blog, I am hoping you will join those thousands of users worldwide without enduring the complexities that email migration has to offer. So, let us start with a little heads-up about what we are going to cover here.

Table of Content

  • A Brief Introduction
  • Difference b/w Thunderbird & Outlook
  • Reasons for Proposed Migration
  • How to achieve Thunderbird to Outlook migration
    • Manual method
    • Automated solution
  • A Brief Conclusion

Intro: Mozilla Thunderbird is an open-source email client with extensible features via add-ons. With a rather simple UI, it is one of the more popular email applications with a pretty good userbase (in numbers). MS Outlook, on the other hand, is a product of Microsoft and is available in the MS Office suite. Ever since its launch, it has been steadily gaining popularity among users, especially at the organization level.

Currently, it is the most used desktop email client ahead of Mac default Mail, Thunderbird & other clients.

Technical Difference Between Mozilla Thunderbird & MS Outlook

Thunderbird has two options (maildir and MBOX) to allow saving of emails and attachments. Out of which MBOX is the default. However, this file is not the regular MBOX file, but a variation in which there are no extensions associated with it. So Thunderbird mailbox files are actually files with no extension with each MBOX storing entire emails of particular Thunderbird folders (e.g., Inbox, Sent, etc).

MS Outlook stores the entire account data in a single PST file. Yup, you read that right, no particular Inbox, sent or anything like that. Moreover, it actually saves contacts, calendars, task, and journals along with emails and attachments in its PST file.

This, my friend, is the ultimate difference between Thunderbird and Outlook which hinders the entire migration scenario. How? Well, because neither Thunderbird supports and provides a way to export data in PST format, nor does Outlook has any functionality to import MBOX files. Lack of official solutions ultimately leads to manual workarounds and third-party solutions.

Why Migrate From Thunderbird to Outlook?

There are a variety of reasons that can cause such migration needs. In most cases, you may find all these reasons to be interrelated with each other.

  • One phase is to analyze both these email clients, and see if Outlook increases your productivity and overall email experience. If the difference is significant, then email migration is the need of the hour.
  • In another scenario, the analysis part is done by someone else, and you have to oblige by converting your Thunderbird emails to Outlook. It can be a recommendation by family or friend, or an order from your employer/organization.
  • An often forgotten reason is not necessarily migration, but the need to provide some Outlook users with PST file, when you yourself is a Thunderbird user. Those someone can be clients, employers, etc.

But whichever the case, the fact remains that Thunderbird to Outlook migration is a complicated process, if not done the right way.

How to convert Thunderbird mailbox to Outlook – The Manual Way

In this day and age of technology, lack of official methods does not mean much. We humans always find alternatives. And in this case the alternative comes in the form of a creative manual technique that takes advantage of one file both Outlook and Thunderbird supports: EML file. Wondering how? Just take a look at following steps to know in detail:

Ist Phase

  1. Run Mozilla Thunderbird email client.
  2. Open the mailbox folder containing email you wish to migrate (e.g., Inbox)
  3. Select all the email messages and right-click on one of them
  4. In the list that appears, go for the Save as.. option
  5. In the window that appears, select the folder where you want to save these EML file. I will recommend saving them on desktop under a new folder named Inbox. Since the emails you saved were from Inbox.
  6. Repeat the steps for each and every mailbox folder from different accounts until everything you want to migrate are saved as EML files.

IInd Phase

  1. Run MS Outlook email client.
  2. Create a new folder named Thunderbird and open it
  3. Now go to the storage folder where all the EML files are saved.
  4. Select all the EML files and drag and drop them into Outlook interface
  5. You get the idea! Repeat the steps till every EML file is imported in MS Outlook.

There you have it!! All the Thunderbird emails successfully migrated into MS Outlook.

Important Note: The folder structure entirely depends upon you. If you have the time, create folders on desktop and Outlook exactly as they are in your Thunderbird account. And then move emails accordingly.

The Automated Way to Go About Converting Thunderbird Emails into Outlook format

Another alternative is to go for third-party solutions. This is certainly a great way to access the entire Thunderbird data into Outlook in a matter of minutes. And the entire process remains safe and secure, if you download the tool from official websites and avoid cracked version which are malware disguised as software.

Out of the variety of tool available online, you can opt SysTools MBOX to PST Converter. It is available for both Windows and Mac. You can convert MBOX to PST and access the Thunderbird files in any version of Outlook without losing attributes. Also, it takes way less time than the manual method and ensures accurate and error-free conversion. Other than Thunderbird, it also supports other email clients such as Mac mail, Entourage, Eudora, Spicebird, The Bat! etc.

Important Note: The proposed automated solution contains two methods by which Thunderbird data can be migrated over to the Outlook platform.

  • One is Auto-fetch where users only need to run the software on the same system having configured Thunderbird. And the tool will automatically fetch the entire data of Thunderbird along with all its attributes and folder structure.
  • The second way is by adding the Thunderbird MBOX files into the software. The location of these files can be found by right-clicking on the account name, going to Settings, then Server Settings, in Thunderbird interface.

A Brief Conclusion

In here we learned about the what, why & how nature of Mozilla Thunderbird to Outlook migration. Both the manual solution and automated approach are provided. What you prefer and want to use entirely depends upon you and your requirements. If you have any queries, do post them/ contact support team of relevant software firms. This is all you need to know about converting Thunderbird MBOX to Outlook PST.

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