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How to copy your Thunderbird settings and mail to another computer

This article describes the steps for copying your Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0 account settings and mail to another computer.

You can use this process to copy settings between Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

 

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You have just spent hours setting up Thunderbird on your main computer. Now you want to set up your netbook or your office computer too. And your home computer is a Mac while your netbook runs Windows or Linux. How do you do this?

This guide takes you through the steps for copying all your account settings and downloaded emails from one computer to another regardless of operating system.

In this guide we copy settings from Windows to Mac OS X, but the steps are the same regardless of which operating systems you use.

Important! All the settings and email stored in Thunderbird on the secondary computer will be removed. This guide is designed with a new installation of Thunderbird in mind. If you have emails and contacts you wish to keep on your secondary computer you have to setup an account to synchronize with Gmail, copy your old emails to your Gmail account, and synchronize your contacts with Gmail before you continue. For details on how to do this please read the Thunderbird Essential Guide.

Note! Click on the images to see a larger version.

Before we start:

01_before_we_start

When we are done:

02_when_we_are_done

You will need to complete these steps:

  • Find the location of your Thunderbird profile.

  • Copy your profile from your main computer to a USB drive.

  • Copy your profile from the USB drive to your secondary computer.

  • Verify paths to mail folders and signatures.

Copying Thundebird 3 settings from Windows to Windows

If you are copying settings between two Windows computers you can use MozBackup to make the process easier.

You can find MozBackup here: http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/

Steps:

  • Install MozBackup on your main computer.

  • Backup your Thunderbird profile.

  • Copy the backup to your secondary computer.

  • Install MozBackup on your secondary computer.

  • Restore your profile from the backup.

If you would like step by step instructions please refer to the Appendix in the Thunderbird 3.0 Essential Guide, which you can download here: www.Easy-Email.net/download.

Find the location of your Thunderbird profile

The location of your Thunderbird profile folder depends on the operating system you use.

These are the default locations:

Windows 7 and Vista C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird
Windows 2000/XP/2003 C:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\Application Data\Thunderbird
Windows NT C:\WINNT\Profiles\[User Name]\Application Data\Thunderbird
Windows 98/98SE/ME C:\Windows\Application Data\Thunderbird
Mac OS X ~/Library/Thunderbird
Linux/UNIX ~/.thunderbird

If you are unsure of the location you can verify it in Thunderbird.

  • Go to the Tools → Account Settings... window (Edit → Account Settings... on Linux).

  • Select the Server Settings tab on your account.
    03_verify_folder_location_1 

  • Click the Browse button to verify the location of your mail folder for this account.
    Make a note of the folder location.
    04_verify_folder_location_2 

  • Now click on the Local Folders tab.
    Then click on Browse.
    05_verify_folder_location_3 

  • Make a note of the location.
    06_verify_folder_location_4 

Copy your profile from your main computer to a USB drive

To copy your profile on to a USB drive follow these steps:

  • Shut down Thunderbird.

  • Navigate to the folder where your profile is stored.

Tip (Ubuntu Linux): Show hidden folders

In your home directory the .thunderbird folder is hidden.

Press Ctrl + H in Nautilus Explorer to show hidden folders.

Tip (Windows): Show hidden folders

On Windows the AppData or Application Data folder is hidden by default.

 07_profile_folder_is_hidden

To show hidden folders on Windows:

  • Press and hold the Alt key until the menu bar appears.
    08_press_alt_to_get_menu 

  • Then go to Tools → Folder Options...
    09_folder_options 

  • Go to the View tab.
    Select Show hidden files and folders.
    Click OK.
    10_show_hidden_files_setting 

  • The hidden folder is now showing.
    11_folder_is_showing 

In the profiles folder find your profile. Your name will be different.
12_profile_folder 

Tip! Check the size of the folder before you copy it. Make sure you have enough free space on your USB drive before you copy the profile folder.

  • Right click on the folder name, and select properties.
    13_profile_folder_size 

  • Now copy the xxxxxxxx.default folder to your USB drive.

Copy your profile from the USB drive to your secondary computer

On your secondary computer we will copy the contents of the profile folder from the USB drive.

  • Install Thunderbird

  • Start Thunderbird for the first time so the profile folder gets created.
    You do not need to create an account since we are going to overwrite all the settings anyway.

  • Shut down Thunderbird.

  • Navigate to the profile folder.
    Notice how the profile name is different to that of the old computer.
    14_new_profile_folder 

  • Open the yyyyyyyy.default folder and delete all the contents of the folder.
    Do not delete the yyyyyyyy.default folder – only the contents of the folder!

Important! This will remove all email and settings you have stored on Thunderbird.
Only do this if you do not wish to keep the old emails.

  • On your USB drive open the profile folder from your main computer.
    15_copy_old_profile_to_new 

  • Copy the contents of the xxxxxxxx.default folder on the USB drive into the yyyyyyyy.default folder on your secondary computer.
    It is important that you do not change the name of the yyyyyyyy.default folder.
    16_after_copy 

Verify paths to mail folders and signatures

Normally the folder settings will work just fine.

If you do find that your email folders do not appear correctly in Thunderbird please verify the folder locations.

  • Start Thunderbird again.

  • Go to Tools → Account Settings... (or Edit → Account Settings... on Linux).

  • On the Server Settings tab verify the location of your email folders.
    17_verify_folder_location_1 

  • On the Local Folders tab verify the location of your local folders.
    18_verify_folder_location_2 

  • Click on the My Mail IMAP tab.

  • Verify that your signatures are set up correctly.
    If your signatures are stored in external files you will need to copy these from your main computer too.
    If – as in the example below – you entered your signature in Thunderbird it should be set up correctly.
    19_verify_signature 

 

Questions

If you have any questions in relation to this article or with Thunderbird or emailing in general you are most welcome to post them on our forum here.

 

If you would like help with synchronizing Thunderbird 3 on multiple computers you can download and follow the Easy-Email Essential Guide. See how this brilliantly simple solution will simplify your life by watching the quick video at sync thunderbird.

 
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