Moving Outlook email (data) to Linux Evolution mail client

First I thought switching from MS-Outlook to Linux Evolution mail client will be easy. Evolution does not offer any easy method to import data directly from Outlook. After searching bit, I found solution:

MS-Outlook -> Import using Mozilla Thunderbird Under Windows -> Import using Evolution under Linux

You know, that is why I like the idea of using an IMAP server. No need to worry about import and export stuff. All you need to do is reconfigure Evolution/Thunderbird under Linux.

Anyway here is what I did to migrate from MS-Outlook to Linux client:

Step # 1: Import mails from Outlook using Thunderbird

  • Download thunderbird for Windows XP
  • Install Thunderbird
  • Start Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Do not setup Thunderbird as your default email client.
  • Since this is your first run, it will prompt you to import mail and other settings.
  • At Import dialog box, select Mail > Next
  • Select Outlook > Next
  • Within few minutes it will migrate all emails from Outlook to Thunderbird. Click Finish and shutdown Thunderbird application.

Step # 2: Transfer Thunderbird mail to Linux desktop

First, you need to find out your profile folder under Thunderbird application (you can also use Windows Explore to find out Thunderbird profile folder):.
Click on Start > Run > Type the command


And hit [Enter] key

Type the following commands to locate Profile folder:

C:> cd %APPDATA%\\Thunderbird
C:> cd Profiles

Now locate directory called “Local Folders”. Again use CD command to go to Local Folders:

C:> cd “Local Folders”
C:> cd “Outlook Mail.sbd”

Copy all files from “Outlook Mail.sbd” folder to USB pen or use network connection to copy files to your Linux home-directory (~/.mozilla-thunderbird)

You are done. Now you can open mail using Linux thunderbird client.

Step #3: Import mail to Evolution

Copy all mails (files) from ~/.mozilla-thunderbird to ~/.evolution/mail/local directory.

Or, use GUI tools. Open Evolution > Click on File > Import. This will start Evolution Import Assistant program. Now just follow on screen instruction.

This is fine, if you have 1-2 desktop system. Now, just imagine having 250+ desktop system migrations from Outlook to Evolution. If anyone aware of bulk import or export method just comment it back below 🙂

See also:

  • Don’t forget to visit mozillazine migration articles. It will save lots of time for sure 😀

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🐧 27 comments so far... add one

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27 comments… add one
  • needee Feb 9, 2007 @ 10:18

    I am using outlook 2003… configured the pst file.

    I followed the instructions…but thunderbird fails to import pst from outlook

    following eror
    An error occured importimg mail from outlook
    Error importing mailbox, unable to create destination mailbox.
    Error creating destination mailboxes,cannot find mailboxes

  • Daniel May 8, 2007 @ 15:21


    just a thanks for this ‘workthrough’, worked perfect for me!

    for needee, can only say that it looks like a permissions issue…

    cheers and thans again Vivek

  • Ravi Kumar May 12, 2007 @ 15:50

    Thanks a lot for this superior suggestion but I have one more problem

    ” Earlier I am using linux and acoording to your suggestion succesfully imported the data from Outlook Express to Thunderbird ( On Linux ) I used that for a month but now due to some other works I again have to use Microsoft XP but problem is that How can I import thunderbird ( Linux) data to Outlook Express. ”

    Pls help me !!!

  • rajamurugan May 16, 2007 @ 14:30

    I am using ms office outlook 2007.

    I followed the instructions…but thunderbird fails to import pst from outlook

    following eror
    An error occured importimg mail from outlook
    Error importing mailbox, unable to create destination mailbox.
    Error creating destination mailboxes,cannot find mailboxes
    plz,can you help me.
    Rajamurugan K

  • Countman Jun 14, 2007 @ 3:22

    needee, rajamurdan

    You may want to try Outport from

    I have tried it on Outlook 2003, and seems to work. I too had trouble with Thunderbird import from Outlook. Also tried Eudora, but it lost my photos, though the rest imported very well. All of these approaches need to run in Windows first, then migrate the data to Linux.

    Hope that helps.

  • Tinfalco Jun 30, 2007 @ 21:38

    This is a good article when talking about the windows end. But when talking about linux starts assuming prior knowledge. For instance, the location ~/.mozilla-thunderbird is mentioned, but a full path would be more useful. I had to guess where it was, and I found one directory of this name, below a directory called etc. But I was informed that I did not have permissions to save the “outlook mail.sbd” file to there. Despite the fact I only have one user set up on this computer, which is the one that carried out the install. Please bear in mind that anyone who is likely to be moving files from windows to linux is likely to be a linux newbier, and thus a more in depth description of ops at the linux side would be welcomed.

  • 🐧 nixCraft Jun 30, 2007 @ 22:09

    ~/.mozilla-thunderbird refers to your own home directory. For example, if your login name is tom, your home directory should be /home/top, so your path should be /home/tom/.mozilla-thunderbird or /home/tom/.mozilla.

    ~ refers to your own home directory in UNIX and Linux.

  • Sachin Sep 19, 2007 @ 18:58

    This solution is for the person who was having trouble importing outlook mail to thunderbird and was getting the following error:

    “An error occurred importing mail from outlook
    Error importing mailbox, unable to create destination mailbox.
    Error creating destination mailboxes,cannot find mailboxes”

    I was having the same problem, and the reason was that I had two sub-folders with the same name under two different parent folders. Once I renamed one of them the import worked fine.

    Hope this helps!

  • Newbie On a Roll Sep 21, 2007 @ 7:52

    Worked perfectly. Thanks

  • prajakta Nov 5, 2007 @ 6:20


    Can Sucessfully tranfer mail from outlook to Evolution.
    But …….. How do I do mass transformation with 300+ desktop and each user may have some folders created as well.
    There can be a script written and can be run during the installation of linux desktops.
    Any ways you need to have backup of mails from thunderbird manually.

  • Davias Jan 17, 2008 @ 14:51

    I follow your procedure, but no luck with emails. I’ve got settings and contacts fine in Thunderbird for linux 2.0.6 (the one in Ubuntu repositories for my 7.10 Amd64) from windows version 2.0.9 but can only see a empty Local Forlders in main view. I tried to move around the mail directory, but no matter were I put it, it’s not recognized by Thunderbird. It looked simple, but is not working.

  • Neuromancer Mar 6, 2008 @ 12:41

    nice trick (: it works

  • Adri May 4, 2008 @ 19:37

    I followed the instructions and…it works!!! Thanks!!

  • Scott May 27, 2008 @ 5:18

    Worked GREAT! Successfully migrated from Outlook 2007 under XP pro SP3 to Evolution under Mandriva 2008… the “cd” areas are not quite the same as mine but I figured out the actual file locations easy enough. THANKS!

    IBM Thinkpad R31, P3@1133MHz, 512 MB RAM.

    Mandiva 2008 is AWESOME!

  • meh May 27, 2008 @ 10:27 worked..keep up the good work

  • AHSAN KHALIQ Jun 16, 2008 @ 11:59



    Note i have also arranged folder names in my personal folder to eight char long and there is no duplication in folder name between folders… if anyone can advise why the following error is occurring and suggest a solution. 🙂

  • Bruce Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:52

    This worked perfectly. Thanks!

  • Anoop Jan 10, 2009 @ 13:42

    Thanks for the instructions, it worked for me in RHEL5.2 from windowsXP. The directory structures where little different than mentioned above.
    – Anoop

  • Richard N. Apr 3, 2009 @ 20:21

    Countman, thanks for the link!!! I’ve export my Outlook and all the objects, I’m going to try to import into Evolution when I get home! Cross my fingers!

  • Rebecca Wright Apr 13, 2009 @ 22:07


    I managed to import everything from Outlook, however, for some reason, the commands to locate the Profile folder are not working. It’s not showing an error or anything, it’s just not… showing anything, just giving me a new command line when I hit enter.

    I am running XP SP3, and Outlook 2003, so I dunno if that’s got anything to do with it.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  • Rebecca Apr 13, 2009 @ 22:10

    Ah, please disregard. Tried doing a search in Windows Explorer for the folder and it turned right up.

    Thanks a lot!

  • Rebecca Apr 13, 2009 @ 22:26

    Something isn’t clear to me. I have the files from the Outlook Mail.sbd folder. However, trying to import them to Evolution from the GUI isn’t working, for some reason. As I’m not importing from an older version of anything, I’m trying to import the individual files, but, however, they don’t have an extension Evolution recognizes. There are files without extensions, and some with a .msf extension.

    Do I need to have Thunderbird on Ubuntu as well in order to import, or is there some other step I’m missing here?

  • Brian McNeil Oct 11, 2009 @ 17:14

    Okay… I have what I think is a real challenge here.

    Thunderbird imports my email from Outlook just fine – I have already done this a few times as I poked and tweaked Thunderbird to see how I could configure it. But, I never stopped using Outlook as my main mail store; I wanted to really know what my options were, and what would be the best.

    Well, it looks like Evolution is the best solution.
    It is tightly integrated with Ubuntu 9.04, right down to double-clicking on the desktop clock and getting a calendar integrated with it. Seriously nice.
    AND, as I want to be able to continue to dual-boot, AND get at my email in either Ubuntu or Windows, it was a great find to discover there is a Windows version of Evolution available.

    However, every single thing I have looked up says you cannot change the default location for Evolution storing mail from your home directory. This is bad. I need it on an NTFS volume so I can see it in Windows.

    How on Earth do I deal with this?
    There are hints that Evolution can via some sort of message rule automatically move email somewhere else. What do I need to do here to have a shared store and all mail sent or received either in Windows or Ubuntu, go into that shared store and both OS Evolution clients be able to see it?

    This is made somewhat more difficult by having six email accounts on a variety of servers – some with, and some without their own SMTP-auth server, and a 1.5Gb store of mail in Outlook that goes back over 15 years.

    Anyone up to *this* challenge?

  • godspiral Nov 3, 2009 @ 19:48

    you can point windows evolution to the mail store in your linux directory. windows tools to mount ext3 as a drive letter.

  • venkat Jul 26, 2010 @ 11:12

    Dear Sir,

    This is venkat, i previous used Linux with mail and evoulation.Afterwards backup the evoluation mail i saved. Now i am using Windows 7 Preium ,so that i want use back mails in the previous .

    How to i can access the above. Please clarify the same.

    Thanks & Regards’

  • Bel Nov 18, 2010 @ 22:40

    I was able to get the Outlook Mail.sbd from my windows folder. But how will i copy the files inside of that folder to linux home-directory? (~/.mozilla-thunderbird) I don’t see a mozilla-thunderbird. Should i install thunderbird in ubuntu 10?

  • Badger Nov 27, 2010 @ 9:57

    There is no need to use Thunderbird. All you need to do is install evolution-pst extension and import .pst file directly. Works very well.

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