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Migrating from Outlook to Mozilla Thunderbird in Linux (part 1) - page 2

Shy on Bling, Loaded With Useful Features

  • February 17, 2009
  • By Eric Geier

Microsoft uses a proprietary format (.pst file) for storing their mail and settings, while Mozilla uses a more standardized and universal format (.mbox file). Thus in order to get your mail from Outlook to Thunderbird, you must extract the messages from the PST file into the MBOX format. You might be able to find free or open source convertors, however I used MessageSave, a commercial Outlook add-on.

Once you have the .mbox files compiled, move them to a flash drive or network share so you can get them onto the Linux machine. Then you want to browse to and move the files to their finial resting spot, the Local Folders directory of your Thunderbird profile folder. You should be able to find this at /home/username/.thunderbird/xxxxxxxx.default/Mail/Local Folders. Now open Thunderbird and you should see new folders, filled with the messages and their attachments in tack.

Now you may want to organize your folders in Thunderbird. You can drag the messages from the imported folders to the global Inbox, Sent, and Trash. Don't freak out if� you don't see the Sent folder; it appears after sending the first email.

Moving the address book or contacts

If you used the Address Book in Outlook, you probably want to migrate this to Thunderbird as well. Microsoft actually provides a better way to export this information. Click File > Import and Export. Choose to Export As File, in the Tab Separated Values (DOS) format.

Once you have the text file moved to the Linux machine, bring up Thunderbird and click Tools > Import. Then choose to import Address Books, in the form of a text file. On the dialog to open the file text, you may have to select the Tab Delimited format from the drop-down menu in the lower right before you can see the file. Once you open the file, you'll see a dialog where you need to match field names. This way you import the data into the correct fields, so everything looks good in Thunderbird. You should leave the First record contains field names option checked. Then by using the up and down buttons, match the fields name as close as you can. The Next and Previous buttons let you page through the contacts. When you're done, click OK and it should load them into Thunderbird's Address Book.

Stay tuned--in the next part, we'll see how to get the calendar, task, and note features in Thunderbird. Plus we'll export the data for these features Outlook and import them into Thunderbird.

Eric Geier is an author of many computing and networking books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Windows Vista (Que 2007).

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