How to Export Emails from Thunderbird to Outlook 2007 on Vista OS

OK, let me warn you, this is a pain in the butt!  Most Microsoft haters right from go will probably tell you not to do it, but after using Thunderbird for a year, I chose to go back to Outlook because Thunderbird just isn’t as good as Outlook (unstable file sizes and all)

While it was easy and fast to export email from Outlook to Thunderbird, going in the other direction is not easy, because Thunderbird apparently doesn’t want to help anyone export out of their software.

I had to download a program called IMAPSize which happens to include an exporter that converts Thunderbird Mbox files into .eml files which can then be dragged and dropped into either Outlook Express or Outlook Expresses replacement, currently called Windows Live Mail and formerly called Windows Mail.



It was pretty easy getting the emails from .eml format into Windows Live Mail, simply go select the files within windows file explorer and then drag and drop them into the live program folders (ergo crank up windows live mail like you are going to write an email and drag and drop those computer files into the windows live mail folders).

It may take a while to process so do not panic if you see the circular spinning icon of purgatory, YOU ARE NOT DEAD YET Vista is just waiting to determine your fait.  😉

Once all your emails are loaded into Windows Live Mail you may be flumoxed, confouned, annoyed and left searching Google for an answer to the question, Where the hell is the Export button in Windows Live Mail???

This definitely left me confounded and annoyed, until I realized that the first question I should have asked is Where the hell is the menu system in Windows Live Mail.  My default installation of the program left the menu system hidden, so I had to unhide the menu then I quickly found the Export button in the File menu item.

Once you click export you may be confounded anew, when it FAILS to give you an option labeled ‘Outlook’ instead you get Microsoft Windows Live Mail (the stupid program you are actually in already!) or Microsoft Exchange which is the right choice in this case, and which is promptly proven after you click it on an educated guess.  The pop up menu then tells you that Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Outlook are the targets for the export.


But don’t hit that OK button until you check the tip at the bottom of this article! 

who says the most important content in any article should go towards the top?  we’re saving the good stuff for the very end, don’t miss it or you will waste some cycles

Then you are almost there, just wait for your messages to export

Note I’m not sure but the export might go faster if you make sure that Outlook is closed before you do this step.  It might also help if you send out negative twitter messages about Steve Jobs and his tendency to buy livers out from under poor people in Tennessee.  Not saying its right, just saying it might speed the program up under the Schroedinger’s Cat Principle.


Now don’t fret if it doesn’t show the true number of emails in your folders at first, mine initially showed just 1k email, then it caught up a bit later


If you have a butt load of emails, don’t expect a fast export.  Fortunately, you can select multiple folders so you will not have to repeat this for every stupid folder that you want to export to Outlook, so just sit back and chill, or go find something better to do. 

As you are working on a desktop application, your browser should be free so this would be a great time to surf around the internet, gossip on Facebook, update your LinkedIn profile talking about your Outlook expertise, or hide under your desk and take a nap.

Just to let you know that Windows Live Mail did not completely screw up, you should see this message when the export is done.


Read This Tip Before you Export from Windows Live Mail

If you were smart enough to setup the same folder structure in Windows Live Mail and in Outlook before the export (aren’t you glad I’m telling you now, instead of when it might have been useful?  leave your comment complaints below) then when you open up Outlook the emails will magically appear in the right folders automatically and you are done!


image image

Aren’t You Glad that is Over?

Now don’t you ever think about leaving Outlook again!




here are some resources that I used to figure this out.  Some of them helped a little bit, none of them helped with the full solution, and a few may have lead me astray . . . . – would have been perfect a couple years ago