How can I migrate from Apple Mail to Mozilla Thunderbird (Mac)?

Roland B January 27, 2014

I have an archive file exported from apple mail that reads .mbox in the information.
I need to import this file in mozilla thunderbird. I have checked the mozilla thunderbird import function and used it to import the folder. But it imports only the blank mail folders and the emails in them are not present. I don’t know what and where the problem is occurring, please help me solve the issue of migrating the email folder from Apple Mail to Mozilla Thunderbird.

  1. Dr. D.
    February 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Similar to Jan F.'s answer, above:
    * in Apple Mail, Export mailbox (right click on it, choose export)
    * Apple Mail will prompt for where to export, but will hide the file (*.mbox) within an arbitrarily-named folder there (e.g., 'Import')
    * After mbox is exported, open it. Rename 'mbox' to desired name of mail box.
    * With Thunderbird closed, drag the renamed 'mbox' file into:
    {username}/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/{arbitrary_name}/Mail/Local Folders (latter is space-separated).
    * Launch Thunderbird, look in Local Folders.
    (note: to make your Library folder visible (by default, not), open a Terminal window and type: "chflags nohidden ~/Library" (followed by return))

  2. Oron J
    January 28, 2014 at 10:27 am

    You can also use EMailChemy (, which is excellent, but costs $29.95 (or more, depending on the version).

  3. Tony G
    January 28, 2014 at 6:44 am

    [Ed: removed suggested tool due to poor WOT rating]

    You can get more hints from the following link:

  4. maria
    January 28, 2014 at 3:42 am

    I suggest to contact with Apple support team. Form there, you would be able to find required resources for manual transfer.


  5. Jan F
    January 27, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Yes, some time around (I believe) Mail 6.0 Apple changed the "mbox" format created during export.

    As for Thunderbird if I recall correctly you have to go "inside" of the .mbox file and rename the mbox. Sounds a bit complicated so here is a step by step example:
    Let's say you have an "Inbox.mbox" from Apple mail.
    This is actually not a file but a container, a folder.
    Double-click the "Inbox.mbox" or right-click and select open (whichever works)..
    Inside you will find 3 files but the only relevant one is called just "mbox".
    Rename this file to "Inbox".

    You should now have:
    Inbox.mbox > Inbox
    Inbox.mbox > info.plist
    Inbox.mbox > table_of_contents

    If you import this "Inbox.mbox" into Thunderbird it should have all the mails inside.
    If that doesn't work then drag & drop the renamed "Inbox" file to the desktop, rename it again to "Inbox.mbox" and try importing.

    If I'm not mistaken one of those should do the trick.

  6. Oron J
    January 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Thunderbird uses MBOX for storage, so you really should have no difficulty importing the folders, unless there's something funny about the MBOX files created by your Apple Mail.

    Do the following test. Take one of the MBOX files and place it along with Thunderbirds other mbox files (you can find the location of TB's storage from the Preferences. It's listed in the Accounts section in the "Servers" panel). Restart TB and see if the folder appears in the list and its contents displayed properly (it may take a few seconds for TB to do this as it needs to build a new index for the folder). If it works, you can import the rest of the folders in the same way. If not, the files exported by Apple Mail are not true MBOX (or are corrupt), and you need to export them again.

    There are other ways of migrating your mail (e.g. by using IMAP), so if this doesn't work, get back to us and we'll suggest other steps.

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