Mozilla Thunderbird: archiving emails with an email client

Thunderbird is a free, open source email client from Mozilla that exports individual emails in EML or email archives in MBOX.

Retrieving webmail

  • Open Mozilla Thunderbird.

  • Click 'Create new account: Email'.
  • A new window opens. Select 'Skip and use my existing email address'.

  • Enter name, email address and password, and click 'Continue';
  • Thunderbird searches your email servers for incoming and outgoing email. Select 'IMAP' and click 'Done'.

  • Thunderbird asks for permission to access your emails and then retrieves all messages.

Exporting emails to the folder structure

  • Open the message that you want to export;
  • In the window, click 'File' and then 'Save as'. Select to save the message as a file.

  • Put the email in the correct folder and click 'Save';
  • The email is saved as an EML file.

You can install the ImportExportTools NG add-on in Thunderbird, which makes it possible to export multiple emails from your mailbox in EML format.

  • Right-click on the folder you want to export;
  • Select 'Import/Export in mbox/eml format - Export all messages in the folder - EML format'.

  • Select the folder you want to save the emails to and click 'Select folder'.

  • You will see the following window. Click 'OK'.

  • All emails are saved. A file called 'index.html' is also saved, which is an HTML file with a table of all the emails you have exported.

Saving an email archive in MBOX

  • Right-click on the email address you want to archive;
  • Select 'Import/export in mbox/eml format' and then 'Export all folders (with structure)'.

  • Click 'OK'.

  • Select the folder you want to save the email archive to and click 'Select folder';
  • Mozilla Thunderbird exports the entire email archive in MBOX. An MBOX file is created for each folder in the mailbox.

Authors: Nastasia Vanderperren (meemoo) with help from Rony Vissers (meemoo) and Pieter De Praetere

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