Migrating your Claws Mail to a new installation

Jack Wallen
Apr 19, 2010
Updated • Dec 5, 2012

It's about that time. Ubuntu 10.4 is coming out and I am finally going to migrate my primary desktop away from Elive to Ubuntu. In this process it will be necessary to migrate my currently running Claws Mail installation from one machine to another. For some applications (think Outlook) this would be a tedious (and sometimes painful) task. But for applications like Claws Mail, the task is a simple one. And in this article I am going to walk you through the process of migrating a running Claws Mail installation from one machine to another.


Although the task is a simple one, there are a number of steps you should take in order to make the process much easier. The first thing you should do is take note of all of the plugins and configurations you have set up on your currently running installation. One thing in particular you will want to do is to make sure you update Claws Mail to the most recent release on both installations. If the target installation is newer than the source, the method I am going to outline will not work (and you will have to do some of this a bit more manually).

The easiest way to take care of much of the preliminary work is to open up Synaptic and do a search for "claws" (no quotes). In the results you want to make note of the release number as well as all of the plugins and extras you have installed. Once you have that noted, head over to the target machine and make sure your Claws Mail installation matches perfectly. Once you have all of that complete, you are ready for the migration.

NOTE: Do not start Claws Mail on the new machine until you have been instructed to do so.

To make this really easy you will need secure shell access to the new machine (from the old machine).

First steps

The first thing you must do is close out Claws Mail on the source machine. Once you have done that open up a terminal window and issue the following commands:

tar cfz ~/Mail.tgz ~/Mail

tar cfz ~/claws-mail.tgz ~/.claws-mail.tgz

What the above commands are going to do is create archives of the only two directories you need on your new installation. Now you need to send those archives to the new destination. Do that with the following commands:


scp ~/claws-mail.tgz USERNAME@IP_ADDRESS_OF_DESTINATION:home/USERNAME/claws-mail.tgz

Where USERNAME is the actual username of the user on the Linux box and IP_ADDRESS_OF_DESTINATION is the address of the destination machine.

Second steps

Now it's time to move to the destination machine. Open up a terminal window and do the following:

tar xvfz ~/Mail.tgz

tar xvfz ~/claws-mail.tgz

The above commands will unpack the archives, recreating the folders necessary for Claws Mail, with all of the configurations as well as Inbox and folders you had on the old installation. Now all you have to do is fire up Claws Mail and see that all of your email and configurations are there, intact.

Final thoughts

Did you ever think migrating an email client from one machine to another would be so simple? I have been in the field and have witness the madness of migrating PST and OST files from one outlook installation to another. It's not pretty. Migrating Claws Mail, on the other hand, is as easy a migration as you will find.


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  1. Chris Hirst said on October 26, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Bit late in the day for the ones aying that “using scp” makes it ‘complicated’, ever thought of replacing scp transfers with burning it to CD/DVD or maybe using a “flash” drive???

  2. mosasaur said on January 20, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks. There is a small error.

    tar cfz ~/claws-mail.tgz ~/.claws-mail.tgz

    should be:

    tar cfz ~/claws-mail.tgz ~/.claws-mail

  3. alex said on April 27, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    is a good service

  4. Pete said on April 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    -1 for pointless (not to mention erroneous) Outlook bashing.

    As rvdmast points out, Outlook migration is simply a matter of exporting and importing a .pst file.

    Don’t get me wrong–Claws is a cool mail client. It’s just a shame you chose to start the article on that note.

  5. Dotan Cohen said on April 19, 2010 at 9:28 am

    > Did you ever think migrating an email client from one machine to another
    > would be so simple?

    $ cp .thunderbird/ /newDrive/.thunderbird/

    Thunderbird keeps all extensions in the user’s home directory, so all the system needs is for Thunderbird itself to be installed.

  6. rvdmast said on April 19, 2010 at 7:44 am

    “For some applications (think Outlook) this would be a tedious (and sometimes painful) task.”

    And how exactly is this procedure, where users need to know about IP adresses and enter commands in a terminal, simpler then copying
    1 pst file to the new machine ?

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