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Exporting a Single Message in Thunderbird 3.x

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Last seen: 13 years 4 months ago
Joined: 2008-06-18 13:40
Exporting a Single Message in Thunderbird 3.x

Greetings to the forum.

I would like to take a single message received, say, during a Thunderbird Portable session and export it to the Thunderbird setup on my hard drive so that it appears as one of the messages on the hard drive version. In the past, I have forwarded such messages to myself, but obviously, the header integrity has been lost. Can this feat be accomplished?

Thank you for all help.


John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Last seen: 2 min 17 sec ago
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21
Not Easily

Thunderbird stores all messages within a folder in a single text file all stuck together. It's called mbox format.

Your best bet is to move it on and off an IMAP server.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

J Neutron
Last seen: 1 month 4 days ago
Joined: 2008-06-10 19:26
A little complex

This solution is not for the average user - some advanced skills are required. Please read the entire instructions before you start! Do not do this if you aren't comfortable with the directions or your skills.

There's a way of doing this if you REALLY want to and aren't afraid of mucking about with files, etc. I recommend backing up both the Portable and permanent versions before doing anything.

I do the Portable version when I go on the road and then import the messages back into my permanent (hard drive) install when I return. Note that the Portable version is configured to work offline (so it doesn't do anything on its own) and there are no rules configured (so everything stays in the Inbox until I move it.)

First, you need to know a bit about the structure. In the Thunderbird profile folder of the Portable and permanent versions you'll find a directory called \Mail\Local Folders\Inbox.sbd

In there, you'll find two files for each mail folder you have in Thunderbird, the mail itself (with no extension) and then index (same name, with msf extension).

So, in your ThunderbirdPortable version, create a folder called "Transfer". Have no other folders (except Inbox and Transfer) in this version. Mail comes in and stays in the Inbox and you move messages you want to transfer into Transfer. I usually delete most incoming mail and just want to save a few. Quit ThunderbirdPortable.

Using a file manager, go into the \Mail area and copy the Transfer file (and msf if you wish) from your USB stick to the corresponding location on your hard drive.

Quit the file manager, and start Thunderbird. You might have to reindex (easiest way is to pull down File and choose Compact) but you will now have a Transfer mail folder that holds all the mail you wanted to transfer from your Portable version. Tag all of the messages and drag them into your Inbox. Then drag the (empty) Transfer mail folder into the trash.

Remember to clean out the Transfer folder in the ThunderbirdPortable version so you'll be able to start fresh the next time. Of course, verify that everything went correctly before deleting anything.

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

Tim Clark
Tim Clark's picture
Last seen: 13 years 4 days ago
Joined: 2006-06-18 13:55

A little complex: YES
Elegant: NO
Functional: VERY !

One of the few encyclical comments I've seen that was well worth the space it took up.

Nicely done Jimmy.


[edit: Before someone feels the need to comment, I mean "encyclical" very, Very Loosely!, as in the sense of big or long Blum ]

Things have got to get better, they can't get worse, or can they?

J Neutron
Last seen: 1 month 4 days ago
Joined: 2008-06-10 19:26

Nicely done Jimmy.

Thanks a lot, Tim.

After you've done it once or twice, it gets a lot easier.

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

Aciago's picture
Last seen: 5 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 2007-01-24 14:23

take one of those sync folder programs and configure it to copy/replace the folder "Tranfer" for you, then it will be more easy... Wink

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort,
and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
then the socket packet pocket has an error to report Biggrin

Last seen: 13 years 9 months ago
Joined: 2010-06-24 15:59
Just the other day I found

Just the other day I found this extension.


I found it while looking for ways to import .eml files that Thunderbird 3.x can save from an open email using the file menu or by right clicking on a or multiple selected email in the list view.

You wouldn't even need to install the extension in Portable Thunderbird since it is not needed for general exporting of .eml files one at a time or in multiples at a time. The extension works just fine for me in Portable Thunderbird 3.1 RC2 so it should work on a local install of 3.1.

Last seen: 4 months 20 hours ago
Joined: 2010-03-18 22:29
The standalone opera mail

The standalone opera mail client is able to move emails from imap and pop3 accounts into other imap accounts. Hopefully this can help someone who needs to move a couple of emails around.

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