Published Jul 10, 2004

I’ve kept all of my e-mail since 1995, and I don’t have any intention of losing it just because I switch from a Mac to a PC. I needed to export my mail from Mailsmith and import it into Outlook. The process I came up with acutally works to import mbox files into Outlook from any program that can make .mbox files — including Netscape Mail, Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, Pine, and, well, probably anything that runs on *nix systems.

Now, some folks will want you to give them money to import your mail from an .mbox file into Outlook. My procedure has the positive side effect of being free.

Since I was using Mailsmith, and not something like Netscape Mail or Apple Mail that uses mbox files as its native store, I had to export everything first. Fortunately, BareBones provides a simple Applescript to do just that.

Outlook won’t just go and import mbox files. It does import from Eudora, which uses .mbx files with associated .idx files that keep some sort of an index of something (I am too lazy to look inside). Eudora does import straight .mbox files and will generate .idx files for them. So, the Light or Sponsored version of Eudora is your friend, and our middle step in this process.

Eudora is very liberal in what it considers its mailstore; specifically, it will consider any .mbx file you put in your user folder as its mailstore and display it as a folder. To import all of your mbox files into Eudora, you just need to rename them with a .mbx file extension. You can use the shell to do this.

Once Eudora’s open, you’ll need to open and rename each folder to make sure that Eudora builds an .idx file for it. Sadly (since I have 90-some folders), I couldn’t figure out a way to automate this. Probably would be a quick job with some Visual Basic and COM, if you already knew Eudora’s object model.

Now that Eudora has built an .idx file for each folder, Outlook will be more than happy to import all of your mail. For free!

5 Comments

This worked great for transferring mail from Entourage to Outlook as well.

It should be noted that you need to use Eudora on Windows.

A few other things to note (for Entourage):

You have to save each Entourage folder seperately. You can’t import nested folders. Only the emails on the top level survive and the nested folders just disappear.

It seems to have trouble importing the last (oldest) email in the .mbx file. Most of the time it munges it one way or another.

I did not have to rename the mailboxes in Eudora 5.1 to have Outlook 2000 accept them. I was also unable to locate any .idx files. Perhaps this is only a requirement with older (or newer?) versions of Eudora. The .mbx format seemed to be Eudora’s default mail format, as native Eudora mailboxes also had a .mbx extention.

Thanks for the great information. You just saved us a ton of time!

Glad it worked for you, Jim! I thought this was one of those kinds of pain that people should only have to learn from once, so I wrote it down, and I’m glad you found it!

A couple other notes for anyone else that finds their way here:

On a couple machines, going from Eudora to Outlook crashed Outlook. The workaround was to use Outlook Express as an intermediate step. Eudora to Outlook Express to Outlook.

You do need to double click on the folders in Eudora to build a Table Of Contents file (renaming them also works). Otherwise you get an error in Outlook.

cheers,
Jim

Hi.
Im been googling the net to solve mi problem: I have Firefox installed in a W2K environment. But due some problems originated by the hard, i need to migrate to Outlook Express.

I have installed Eudora , and read OK the mailboxes from Firefox (Firefox mailboxes are in MBOX Unix format). But the attachtments are not OK…. Eudora show the attachments inline… in format MIME (without identify as files), ie:

—============_3342955==_============
Content-Type: image/jpeg; name=”DCP01263.JPG”
; x-mac-type=”4A504547”
; x-mac-creator=”3842494D”

The attachments originally in Firefox, are OK

Some ideas?
Regards
Andres
Santa Fe, Argentina

Andresu,

I haven’t tried this with Outlook Express, which I think actually uses a different (non-.pst) storage format for its mail database. Have you tried to finish the import into OE? It might be that your attachments will turn out fine. I do believe that my attachments came across OK. (I have mail back to about 1996 in my database and haven’t checked it all so I can’t say for sure…)