Move Thunderbird Email Profiles To Another Location - gHacks Tech News

Move Thunderbird Email Profiles To Another Location

The email client Mozilla Thunderbird uses a similar structure for storing data as the Firefox web browser. It uses profiles directories that are saved by default to the Thunderbird folder of the user directory of the operating system.

There are some reasons why some users may want to move the data from the Thunderbird folder to another custom folder.

Some that instantly come to mind are running out of storage on the primary hard drive which you could resolve by moving the profile folder to a different partition or hard drive. And if you like security, you could move it to an encrypted folder or an encrypted hard drive instead to protect email access.

Whatever it may be it turns out to be very, very easy to move a single profile or even all profiles from the default location to another one.

Recent versions of Thunderbird make it even easier. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Locate the Thunderbird profile folder that you want to move to another location or computer. The easiest way to do that is to open Thunderbird, select Help > Troubleshooting Information, and click on the open folder button on the page that opens. If you don't see the menu bar tap on the Alt-key to display it.
  2. Copy the entire profile folder including the root folder to the new location or a USB drive.
  3. Paste the profile folder to the new location, e.g., another drive on the same computer or a new computer.
  4. Start Thunderbird with the -p parameter to open the Profile Manager. Find the Thunderbird shortcut, right-click on it and select Properties. Add -p to the target field if you are on Windows. This opens the profile manager.
  5. Select Create Profile from the menu. Enter a name for the profile and select the "choose folder" button. Navigate to the profile folder and click on it so that its files and folders are displayed. Click the select folder and then finish.

Thunderbird should now display all emails and accounts of the profile when you run it (using the profile manager). If it is the only profile, remove the -p parameter from startup again to speed up the start.

Move Thunderbird email profiles

thunderbird profiles directory

The first step is to close the Thunderbird email client so that it will not write data to the profile folder anymore. The default location of the Thunderbird profile folder depends on the operating system in use, below is a list of common locations:

  • Windows XP/2000, Vista, 7, 8 and 10, %AppData%\Thunderbird
  • Windows 95/98/Me, WINDOWS\Application Data\Thunderbird
  • Linux, ~/.thunderbird/
  • Mac OS X, ~/Library/Application Support/Thunderbird/

Copy one or several of the Thunderbird profiles to the new location. Now open up the file profiles.ini in the original folder and edit the path pointing to the new profile folder locations accordingly.

thunderbird profiles

You also need to change the parameter IsRelative=1 to IsRelative=0. What this does is change the path value that Thunderbird accepts for profile links from the relative format to full format. So, instead of something like Profiles/xyu.default, you have to point to the full path, e.g., c:\profiles\xyu.default instead.

Please note that this is valid for all profiles which means that you need to add the full path (e.g., c:\thunderbird\profiles\profile.code\ in the Windows operating system) to profiles that are kept in the default location. Start the Thunderbird, email client. If everything worked well, it should display the emails and other data as usual for the profile.

If that did not work, retrace the steps and make sure you have set the correct new profile directory in the profiles.ini file listed in the user folder.

There is a second option that you can make use of. Instead of editing the profiles.ini file, you can also create a symbolic link between the new location of the profile and the old. You can use a program like Symbolic Link Creator for that.

Summary
Move Thunderbird Email Profiles To Another Location
Article Name
Move Thunderbird Email Profiles To Another Location
Description
How to move one, some or all Thunderbird profiles to another partition or hard drive on the computer using easy to reproduce steps
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Geoff said on April 15, 2009 at 8:10 am
    Reply

    If your setting up Thunderbird for the first time then it is best to use the profile manager to create a profile & set a name & place(on a non-system HD) to store your profile & then you can back up the folder everyday to another media if needed & if you need to reinstall just use the profile manager to point to the profile location to all should be good & the same works with Firefox.

    Its how I do it & never have had a problem.

  2. Steve said on April 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm
    Reply

    Can you just copy the address book and email, say from your desktop to a portable version on a thumb drive, without copying the message rules and server settings?

    I would like to do something like that, so that I am current all the time, but leave the messages on the server with the portable version. Then synch the address book when I get back to the desktop.

    1. Martin said on April 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm
      Reply

      I never tried moving only the emails. You could try something like mozbackup to only backup the emails and restore them to the USB device. Should be possible.

  3. genoki said on December 8, 2010 at 8:19 pm
    Reply

    To be extra clear about what folder to move .. only move the profile file itself not the entire Thunderbird folder to the new location.

    Although from quick glance at folder contents it appears that there are unique files in main Thunderbird folder eg cache, addons, extensions, etc .. are the unique settings for these contained in profile or in main Thunderbird folder .. hmm not clear to me. thx

  4. Dean said on August 26, 2016 at 3:13 am
    Reply

    Worked well, thank you

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