Thunderbird portable is the portable version of the email client Thunderbird. It does not require to be installed which makes it ideal for USB Flash drive and removable storage device use, but also for systems where users prefer to run portable programs.
I'm using Thunderbird on my desktop computer and made the decision to install a portable version of Thunderbird on my USB drive so that I can use it to check emails when I'm on the road using a different computer.
One of the things that I had to do was to copy the existing profile, including all emails, to the portable Thunderbird folder so that it would pick those up. It took some time but I finally managed that Thunderbird portable had all the mails, contacts and settings that I have had access to and used in Thunderbird for some years now.
Download the portable version of Thunderbird and install it on your hard drive or device that you want to use. Please note that this installation is more or less only an unpacking of the content, nothing is written to the Registry or system files.
Locate your Thunderbird profile folder which can normally be located in "C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default" if you are running Windows XP or C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default on newer versions of the Windows operating system.
Select Help > Troubleshooting Information > Open Folder if you have difficulties locating the profile folder. This opens it on the local system.
Now copy the files localstore.rdf, abook.mab, prefs.js, and the Mail and News folders to the profile folder of the Thunderbird portable directory. That folder is located in ThunderbirdPortable\Data\profile.
Replace the files if asked and open the file prefs.js afterwards. You will notice that the mail accounts are pointing to the profile folder of the normal Thunderbird installation: this has to change. Replace all paths to the local Thunderbird profile folder (the one starting with the original path to the profile folder with the path to the portable Thunderbird folder.
A valid path would look like this: F:\\Thunderbird\\ThunderbirdPortable\\Data\\profile\\Mail\\Local Folders. Please note that you have to use double \\ instead of single \. This has to be done for every mail account that you use. All are located in the same file though, so no need to worry that much.
Once that file has been edited you can start the portable Thunderbird installation. I changed one setting in portable Thunderbird, I did not want it to download and delete the mail from the mail server. I changed that so that it would download the mails but leave them on the server.
Tap on the Alt-key and select Tools > Account Settings and there every Server Settings entry. Check Leave messages on server for all accounts and close the settings afterwards. Another option would be to sync both profiles whenever both are connected to the same PC.
Syncing is probably the better option. You could use Sync Toy if you use Windows XP to sync both Mail folders with ease. I write about that in another article.
An alternative is to use IMAP only, as it will sync with all instances of Thunderbird automatically without affecting the list of emails on other devices that you use. If you use IMAP, you don't really need to copy the mail folders over either.
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