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Making moves
Status: Trending idea

On some Computer My Thunderbird Profile is still the same as from the first version of Thunderbird from 2006. It contains a lot of strange files and is much larger than a new profile.

Please develop a full migration of the Thunderbird profile into a new profile.

Beside my I'm also Family admin of several PC with Thunderbird. Most of their Profile has the same age like my profile. It would be nice If I could migrate these profile as easy as possible. I do not wish to set up new mail clients  and may forget settings or add-ons.


I suggest following behavior.

  1. User do start a Profile migration
  2. Thunderbird requests some basics
    1. [x] Automatic cleanup - nothing get lost you currently use.
    2. [ ] Custom cleanup - remove some data you currently use but you do not need anymore.
      -> Add some requests If custom cleanup is active: list of add-ons, experimental settings, remove password list, etc.
  3. Create a new Profile
  4. Install all currently active add-ons
  5. Migrate all settings of Thunderbird
    1. Migrate all settings Thunderbird in the current Version is able to use
    2. Migrate accounts and also their mail filter rules
    3. Settings of migrated add-ons.
    4. Cleanup cached Mails
  6. Perform a Thunderbird start
    1. Migrate cached Mails
      -> May check ahead of the Migration if enough disk space is available
    2. Migrate requested Passwords.
      -> May ask for removing Password from the old profile If the whole migration was successful
  7. If every thing is successful and the next Thunderbird start was also successfully too, tar.xz the old Profile.
Status changed to: New idea
Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks for submitting an idea to the Mozilla Connect community! Your idea is now open to votes (aka kudos) and comments.

Making moves

If they can automate the "migration" or "cleanup", your senior profile wouldn't be cluttered with "strange files" in the first place!

Export all the mails in local folders (or also mail account folders if running POP3). Export all the address book contacts. Check out all the add-ons currently in use and mark them all down. Check out all the passwords stored and write them down on paper (or in temporary text file). Check out all the mail account settings and write them down too. Create a new profile, switch to it, than import everything back in.

Making moves


I agree with @Mannshoch .

Who wants to do all that? (But thanks for the instructions 😉

My reccomended flow is

  1. click on your profile image in upper right (or wherever).
  2. click manage
  3. click export
  4. set options and export path
  5. go do something else!
Making moves

In my opinion Thunderbird could do this all 10 Major version on his own. (In that case a backup e.g. tar.xz would be important)

Making moves

In my opinian Thunderbird should do that all 10 Major Version on it's own. (Backup as e.g. tar.xz is Important)

Not applicable

Totally agree with this. Over the years I've had a number of email address which have come and gone and the profile file pref.js has got remnants of the old identities (id and server numbers) hanging around in the code. In the file, I can also see these old email addresses too so that implies the 'removal' process didn't work properly either. 

So a neat little function to parse through the accounts/identities in the file, asking the user what to keep and what not to, checking consistency of the email/accountID/Identity/Server items, and removing the 'left hanging' items - code lines that are no longer used, would be a great idea.

Making moves

I've been suggesting a *settings* Export/Import utility for quite a while.  Right now the only E/I utility simply backs up your entire profile as one blob, and copies it to a new system.  No edits, cleanups or changes.

This needs a more granular system, that can feed your settings out to JSON or something similar, with the option of tarring/zipping up your mailboxes, or skipping the message archive if you're on IMAP (and you trust the host server to reliably restore your mail).  This would let you restore just the bits you want to keep.  It also would be useful for migrating profiles between operating systems (to/from Linux and MSWindows, etc).  I expect this needs to be a separate utility, as integrating it into the main application would be a lot more work than a standalone solution.

Now the thing is I know there's a major renovation in the works, so maybe by this summer it may be in place anyway.  (is there anything that currently converts a prefs.js file to json, yaml or even xml?)

Strollin' around

Yes, Thunderbird really needs a more simple option to update, clean, and/or move to a new computer. Thanks for requesting this. You get my vote! But please also keep the ability to just copy the profile folder.

New member

I disagree:

I use Thunderbird since many years and it's my daily driver. I also want to have some overview and a  tidied up Thunderbird installation and meaningful settings.

But I think this is not the way to go. You as a user should know what are the information you care about (Email accounts, local folders, spam configuration, filter, RSS, etc) and then clean this up, export and take it into a new profile/thunderbird installation.

To let the thunderbird devs handle the complexity of n-years of old configuration combinations to a proper state sounds like a huge task. As a dev I wouldn't like to do that. It is easy for you to do that but for a dev it's a big task.

Although I kinda agree more with SenileOtaku in this thread regarding improved export functions.

Making moves

On Debian there are many config files, all in different formats. - Like FF/TB.

There is a directory with files (/etc/default) that have a similar and or simpler format.
These files are processed into the config files that the programs on the system can use.

An export/upgrade option would take certain settings, create a new profile, and the user would be happy as a peach that things are going so well.

A simple concept, I don't know if I explained it right.

The old profile can auto-expire or lock or whatever.

Making moves


My Idea do not need any converting of old data. At the end Thunderbird simply copy the data thunderbird in the current Version could use into a new Profile and check the same for addons.

And after the first start in the new Profile Thunderbird could import only used Login data into the new Profile.

I'm not a developer, but I think thunderbird should know which of the current TB settings are valid settings.

New member

@Kobert... I disagree. It needs to be simple for a user to use. Thunderbird email is a fantastic app on a laptop. A lot of people using Thunderbird email are non-technical. I am partially technical but the current method of cleaning requires a deep understanding of Thunderbird and it's just not practical. A Wizard to walk through the process in real-time is required, plus some uncomplicated unwind process (or simple backup everything) should it go wrong is required also. 

Strollin' around

The Thunderbird Development Team should truly collaborate with the developer of the "ImportExport Tools NG" extension to make it easier for a user to migrate and remove unnecessary or outdated Thunderbird profile files. That extension has a few issues and limitations, and it has complex settings that may be difficult for Thunderbird users who have limited technical knowledge.

Yes, many customizable settings are an advantage, but there should be more help for each setting, both by mouseover on an (i) icon for information AND in a separate help file, tutorial, or support page where a user can read information AND have the ability contact someone for help.

Currently, there is no quick and easy way to migrate a profile from a previous Thunderbird installation (especially a previous Thunderbird version) to a new installation of Thunderbird (with a current Thunderbird version). If you have many emails sorted in folders over time, or have many add-ons installed, the risk increases that your migration could become corrupted and be unsuccessful. At worst, you could lose years of emails you have saved. At best, you save your emails but need to reinstall and reconfigure all your settings and your add-ons and their settings.

Status changed to: Trending idea
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hey all,

Quick update…

This idea has been upgraded to a “Trending idea” here on Mozilla Connect, which means it’s one step closer to reaching our internal teams for review—learn more about The Idea Journey.

Please keep the conversation going and stay tuned for updates 😃

Making moves

Definitely needs to be an extension or external utility.  I would opt for the latter, personally (especially if your profile is degrading under the newer TB versions).   Already TB 102 can't see or browse to filesystem folders (it sees folders *within* the email profile just fine), and in addition the recent betas are showing blank panes if I open an existing profile.  Doing an "import" of an old profile into a new one just makes the new profile just as problematic as the old one.