How to Transfer Thunderbird Profile from Windows to Ubuntu

One of the tasks I faced in moving completely from Windows to Ubuntu was to transfer all my saved emails and my profile from Thunderbird. In Windows locate your Thunderbird profile, this will usually be in Documents and Settings>YourName>Application Data>Thunderbird>Profiles. The profile folder will be named with a random 8 character name and a .default extension (e.g. htg34gtd.default). You should be able to access your Windows partition from Ubuntu so once you’ve located the profile folder just copy it across to your Ubuntu partition.

Now go to your home folder in Ubuntu and select View>Show Hidden Files look for a folder named .mozilla-thunderbird. This may already have a .default folder in it, if it has then delete it then move the folder you copied from Windows here. Last thing you have to do is create a profiles.ini file in the .mozilla-thunderbird folder, in my case Thunderbird had already created this file so all I had to do was replace the text with below with the correct .default name;


Where oooooooo = the 8 character name of your folder.
Now run Thunderbird, all being well you should now see all your emails etc as they were in Windows. This was not the case for me however, Thunderbird decided to create a new profile .default folder but all I had to do was delete it and rename the one I copied across to the one Thunderbird created…voila!

21 Replies to “How to Transfer Thunderbird Profile from Windows to Ubuntu”

  1. Thanks a bunch for this primer… I am just getting started with a Windows / Ubuntu migration and this definitely helped a lot.

  2. Seoras,

    After messing around (an Ubuntu 9.04 novice) for hours with various recommendations obtained over Google on how to bring the Ubuntu TBird up with the same profile as one had/has in XP, I came across your extremely clear cut and overly (seemingly) simple procedure. I followed it to the “T” – – – and, “voila!”

    Thanks to you, I am now in business with a new TBird in Ubuntu that’s exactly the same as the one on my other XP machines. Bravo. Job well done. You’re an excellent instructor. (I had been looking for the same profile as that I found in the Windows installation of TBird, but couldn’t find it in Ubuntu – anywhere. The trick was to change the view so all files were visible. Your “Voila!” proved most accurate.

    ric lambart

  3. Hi, I’m trying to migrate to Linux Mint from XP but first need to become more familiar with it on a separate machine. Thanks to this I now copy the mail directory and profile directory on a flash drive over to the laptop running Mint and carry on work. Excellent.

  4. Hi, thanks for this tutorial. It saved me a LOT of hassle!! Just started Thunderbird in Linux and it has my everything I need right there in place. Awesome.

  5. Great, clear instructions for a Ubuntu noob. I copied my profiles from the windows partition (10GB) and had an error “T’bird already running,..” Checked your instructions again, and I had copied the whole direcetory up one level of the tree, so when I followed what you said EXACTLY, it worked like magic. so long as the oooooo.default dir was at the same level as the .ini file.

  6. Trying to setup a work environment in linux ubuntu. Its not a simple copy and paste issue like you do in windows. It does require time and research. Your small piece of advice above helped save hours of trying to make it work! Greetings from the tropics.

  7. This worked perfectly for me, transferring my files from a Windows XP machine to a laptop with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS – the Lucid Lynx.

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Ubuntu 10.10 from Vista Ultimate 64 worked like a charm. Many thanks for a simple solution,
    Make it a good day!

  9. This is a great way to go from windows to ubuntu, thank you.

    If been checking the internet for 3 days but this is the best way.

  10. Just used this method to migrate from Windows 7 to Ubuntu 10.10 with a couple of slight modifications.

    Being the overly cautious type I did not overwrite the old *.default file on the Ubuntu partition. I just changed the extension from “default” to “defold”.

    Everything worked like a champ except my calendar (Lightning) extension. I had installed that extension through the Synaptic Package Manager when I installed Thunderbird. When I opened Thunderbird after transferring my profile as above my three mail accounts worked fine, but my calendar came up with blank squares for the days (not even a date, let alone the listing of a recorded event). Also the “New Event” and “New Task” commands were grayed out in the ‘Events and Tasks” menu item.

    I figured I wouldn’t lose much if I tried an uninstall and re-install. In Thunderbird, I went to Tools>Add-ons>Extensions and clicked the “Uninstall” command button in the Lightning section. I said OK to a message that this would screw up things for Google Calendar something or other. I closed and restarted Thunderbird and, blow me down, not only was Lightning still there (I didn’t have to do a re-install), but it was working and filled with my existing events, preferences, etc. Checking the Synaptic Package Manager I see that the Lighting Extension is still listed as installed. Not sure what I did “uninstall” (maybe a duplicate that was overlaying the version dragged over from Windows 7), but now when I check Tools>Add-ons>Extensions the “Uninstall” command button in the Lightning section is grayed out.

    Hope this little wrinkle helps any other convert folks.

  11. Great tip! works just as well for Ubuntu 11.10 – so I suggest renaming the title to something more up to date or generic 🙂

    Thanks very much!

  12. Hello, questions allowed here?
    First – Thanks for the instruction. I was almost looking for that instruction. Only difference to my problem is, that I have a dual boot, (win7/Jolicloud) and want the same .default folder usuable for both. Is that possible at all? Can I tell TB that the .default folder is somewhere else, than in the Jolicloud partition?
    All help appriciated
    THX Pi

  13. As far as I know you’d have to locate the profile on the Win partition which Jolicloud should be able to access, then somehow point TB to that partition. I have never done this but I think it may be possible. Good luck.

  14. Good explanation, simple and fast. But two things missing, first we are not all experience linux users so hidden files in home is Ctrl-H, when the default thunderbird folder in copy to linux, just use notepad to open de profiles.ini replace the xxxxxx part in xxxxxx.default name for the one you just copy to linux in the in Path line of the profiles.ini save it. Thats it, start thunderbird.
    Thanks, Cheers

  15. Thunderbird use its own two different directories in Win7 en Linux, so how is that ever gone become a problem to use the same name on two different partitions with also two different file systems? So you are free to use the same xxxxxx.default name.

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