Simple way to backup Thunderbird emails

A client just asked me how to easily export and save her emails. After a bit of Googling and trying to guide her through the normal “copy profile info to external hard drive” bit, I found something a heck of a lot easier. A little add-on to Thunderbird which allows you to save selected emails right from within Thunderbird and saves them in a human readable format to your hard drive.

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Simply install the add-on (Thunderbird Menu -> Tools -> Add-ons -> Install add-on) and then restart Thunderbird.

The backup add-on can be found at Kaosmos website and downloaded for free! It works on all platforms as far as I know (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux).

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to get it working (in my case it’s Thunderbird running on Ma OSX). The screen shots can be enlarged by clicking on them:-

Go to your Thunderbird Tools Menu and select add-ons:

The add-ons screen. Now select “install” from the bottom left corner:

A dialog pops-up asking you for the location of the file. Select it and press “open”:

A security prompt will ask you to confirm whether you really want to install the file. Press “Install now”:

The dialog box will show the installed file and prompt you to restart Thunderbird. Press “Restart Thunderbird”:

After Thunderbird restarted go to your inbox and select the emails you want to export:

Right-click on any of the selected messages to bring up a menu. Go to “Save selected messages” to view the choices:

Select the desired export format. I suggest EML since it’s the easiest way to import emails to other programs. You can also import to Plain Text and HTML if you just want a backup you can read later but not require it to be in any mail program:

A dialog appears, asking you where to save the emails to. Make your choice and press “Choose”:

Now browse to the selected destination to view your exported messages. In my case it’s on a Mac:

Hope this was useful to you. Have a nice day :)

5 Responses to “Simple way to backup Thunderbird emails”

  1. Angela says:

    Thanks so much for this. Works great and now when I get my new laptop I don’t have to worry about losing all my emails! They’re all safely exported to my external drive.

  2. Angela says:

    Thanks so much for this. Works great and now when I get my new laptop I don’t have to worry about losing all my emails! They’re all safely exported to my external drive.

  3. Wildeidea says:

    Thank you so much for a fantastic little tutorial! I was switching from POP to IMAP and needed to save my emails first, which was no problem in entourage, but without your help I’m not sure I would have managed in Thunderbird!

  4. Wildeidea says:

    Thank you so much for a fantastic little tutorial! I was switching from POP to IMAP and needed to save my emails first, which was no problem in entourage, but without your help I’m not sure I would have managed in Thunderbird!

  5. Gujche says:

    You make my life much easier. Thanks a lot for this add-on suggestion