Evolution import from Thunderbird

In the past I have switched to Thunderbird from other email clients, everything was just imported like magic - 3 email accounts and my local addresses. I’m now trying to switch from Thunderbird to Evolution. One email account and addresses stored on the mail server have been imported, nothing else.
I assume that if I created a new email account it will only download emails and addresses from the server, not the local emails. Also, import only seems to offer to do it from an earlier version of Evolution.
A search on the help page wasn’t terribly fruitful. How should I ensure that all 3 account’s emails, local emails and local email addresses are imported?

the only automatic way is though File->Import->Import data and settings from other programs, but the Thunderbird importer was not updated for a long time, thus it’s a manual job for anything not covered by the Evolution importer.

You might export your local address books into a vCard format and then create a new book in Evolution and import the file into it. Similarly with local mails.

Remote accounts (IMAP, CalDAV, CardDAV, and so on) can be just created with the same settings as in the Thunderbird and the data saved on the server will be downloaded for the Evolution.


This is turning out to be a nightmare. Evolution is able to import several different types of files, so I won’t blame it. Initially it looked as though Thunderbird could only export one special file - which Evolution doesn’t know about. However, as you say, there are other options.

  • The first email account was imported from the disk without much trouble
  • For my other account I created a link to the server in Evolution and it imported it all.
  • For the address book I went into contacts, merged them all into one address book, right-clicked on that tab and exported it as a csv file which Evolution was able to import.

For my Thunderbird “Local Folders” (which contain emails from closed accounts) I have found that I can attach one of those folders to an email account and it will be copied into Evolution. Can’t seem to do that with the “Inbox” and “Sent” folders though.

… and exported it as a csv file …

if they provide vCard export, then use rather that. It passes much more data in vCard, than in CSV

For my Thunderbird “Local Folders”

I do not know how on your machine, but for me the Local Folders are stored at ~/.thunderbird/*.Default\ User/Mail/Local\ Folders/ . Each folder might have there its file. They seems to be MBOX files (those, which start withFrom .... line), which Evolution can import. The MBOX format is like that, one file per folder.

Unfrtunately I didn’t spot Evolution’s abilty to import mbx files until too late. It was very difficult to copy the “Local Folders” my way, as TB appears to allow you to copy things when something else is still happening - then you find it hasn’t (: I think I’ve succeeded though, I’ve just got to check.

vCard export - That’s a good point, I’ll look for that.

My original reason for looking at Evolution was that Thunderbird stopped working on Fedora-39Beta and I wanted to try another option just in case it wasn’t fixed quickly (fixed now). After all this messing about I have a strong impression that Thunderbird does not prioritise helping you export data should you wish to move to another email client, which made me concerned about sooner or later being trapped in Thunderbird, so I have now switched permanently to Evolution. There is also the advantage that it has a much tidier and more up-to-date interface than even the latest Thunderbird has. Probably most important (for any OS or application) is that there were zero responses to be request for help on TB’s forum, but here on the Evolution forum you have been extremely helpful. Thanks

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