How To Migrate From Evolution To Thunderbird In Ubuntu Intrepid

While Evolution is a useful email client for Gnome desktop, it is just not as extensible and flexible as Thunderbird. For those who are facing unpleasant incidents with Evolution and wish to migrate to Thunderbird, here is how you can do so in Ubuntu 8.10

Preparing your Thunderbird

First of all, if you have not installed Thunderbird, type in your terminal:

Open your Thunderbird (“Applications -> Internet -> Mozilla Thunderbird”).

It will first prompt you to import setting, select “Don’t import anything” and click “Next”.

It will then ask you to setup your email account. Go ahead and set up your email account.

Migrate local mail from Evolution

First, we will migrate the Evolution mails that are stored locally in your hard disk.

Open up two Nautilus windows (if you like, you can open two tabs instead of two windows). Press “Ctrl + H” to reveal the hidden folders. In one window, navigate to the “.mozilla-thunderbird” folder. You should see a folder with name similar to “i7bqvbzk.default”. Click on that folder, followed by “Mail” and “Local Folder”s. You should see some files like “Inbox”, “Trash”, “Unsent Message” etc.


In the second window, navigate to “.evolution -> mail -> local” folder. Similarly, you will find files such as “Inbox”, “Outbox”, “Sent”, “Trash” etc.


Now copy the five files “Inbox”, “Outbox”, “Drafts”, “Templates”, “Sent” from the Evolution folder to the Thunderbird folder. If it prompts you whether to replace the existing files, click “Replace All”.

If you have used any subfolders in your Evolution, you should see a folder with a “.sbd” extension (such as “#evolution.sbd”). In your Thunderbird folder, create a similar folder with the same name. Back to your Evolution folder, copy and paste all the files in the subfolder that don’t have a file extension to the Thunderbird subfolder.

That’s it. Restart your Thunderbird. You should see all your Evolution mails imported over.


Migrate Calendar

Thunderbird does not come with a calendar function by default, so we need to install the “Lightning” extension to give it the calendar functionality. As the “Lightning” extension in the Ubuntu repository is outdated, we will have to download the extension and install it manually.

Go to “” and download “Lightning 0.9”.xpi.

Some of you who have installed Lightning 0.9 before will find that you won’t be able to add entry to the Calendar and Task section. This is a common bug as the Lightning extension still uses the old “libstdc++5” dependency file while Ubuntu Intrepid comes with the newer “libstdc++6”. Thus, before you install the “Lightning” extension, first install the libstdc++5 dependency file.

sudo apt-get install libstdc++5

Now, in your Thunderbird, go to “Tools ->Addons”. Click on the “Install” button to install the “Lightning” extension. (If you have already installed Lightning extension, you will need to remove and reinstall again).

Restart the Thunderbird. The “Lightning” extension should detect the presence of Evolution and prompt you to import the calendar from Evolution.


Make sure the box is checked and click “Next”. It should import your Evolution calendar over.

Migrating Task

Lightning does not import the Task list from Evolution, so you have to do it manually.

In Evolution, click on the Task tab. Right click on the “Personal” (or whatever name you give to your task list) and select “Save to disk”. Navigate to the location and save the task list in “.ics” format.


In Thunderbird, first click on the “Calendar” tab, then go to “File->Import Calendar”. Select the file that you have just saved. Thunderbird will prompt you where to save the calendar. Pick the one you want and click “OK”. Your Evolution Task list will now be imported to Thunderbird.


Migrate address book

Importing address book from Evolution is not an easy task since Thunderbird does not support the importing of “.vcf” format. To overcome this, we have to install the “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook” extension.

Go to and download the “MoreFunctionForAddressBook” extension. Install it in Thunderbird (and restart Thunderbird).

In Evolution, click on the “Contacts” tab. Right click on your contact list and select “Save As vCard”. Select a location and save the contact list in “.vcf” format.


In Thunderbird, click on the “Address Book” tab on the icon bar to load up the Address book window. Right click on the entry area and select “Import vCard/vcf”. Select the .vcf file that you have just saved.



Enable Tracker Indexing

You have now completed the migration from Evolution to Thunderbird, you might want to enable tracker indexing so that your mail in Thunderbird can be indexed and searched by tracker.

Download the tracker extension here.

Install the extension in Thunderbird and restart thunderbird.

On your Ubuntu desktop, go to “System -> Preferences -> Search and Indexing”. Make sure that the “Index delay” is set to at least 45 and the box beside “Enable Indexing” is checked.


Next, go to “System -> Preferences -> Sessions”. Make sure that the boxes beside “Tracker” and “Tracker Applet” are checked.


Close everything and restart your computer.

Once it is booted up, start your Thunderbird and go to “Tools -> Tracker Indexer Setting”

On the “Indexing” tab, make sure that the “Enable Indexing” box is checked.


On the “Privacy” tab, click the “Drop everything” and “Reset index status.” Tracker will now re-index your Thunderbird folder.


That’s all. Enjoy!


  1. good.
    nice tutorial

    1. Thanks, piju

  2. Very very good. Tanks

  3. Thanks a lot Damien. It was very helpful.

  4. Hey,
    Be very carefull when copying the files from evolution to thunderbird! I did this and from a certain date, all mails before were rubbish. TB started crashing seemingly random, removing all rubbish mails did the trick.

    I don’t know the exact reason. But I switched to TB because evolution was crashing randomly, so this would probably been the problem.

    1. Your Evolution crashed could be due to some of the attachment contained within the mails. You have to find out that problem email first before migrating to TB.

  5. The imported messages were all marked as ‘read’ and lost their tags like ‘important’. Also the subdirectory structure is flattened. Is there any way around this?

    I could first sort messages into separate folders in evolution but that’s tedious since I have lots of folders.

    Finally, are there any other calendar programs? ‘m wary of versions under 1.0.

  6. Thank you so much – why don’t the Mozilla people make this easier?

  7. Thanks Damien. We had a smooth migration to Thunderbird because of this article.

    1. You’re welcome. I am glad it worked out for you.

  8. Simply wonderfull, 10 minutes and I am on thunderbird now.
    Thanks a lot.
    Do you have a method to also transfer my filter rules from evolution.

  9. BRILLIANT!!!!!

  10. For migrating the address book files you can also use

  11. Thank you! Happy to be able to switch to Thunderbird, without loosing all my mails ;).

  12. Thank you! Happy to be able to switch to Thunderbird, without loosing all my mails ;).

  13. followed your instructions and successfully migrated data from evolution to thunderbird, thanks very much. Also thanks info on the MoreFunctionForAddressBook extension.


  14. Thanx a million for posting this!

  15. Easy enough to migrate, but the password I used for Evolution email is not recognised when I use T’bird, so I cannot receive mail. I think this happened the first time I trird to change to T’bird.

  16. Seems TB imports a c,s,v file by now paying attention the double quotes.
    “Tom”, “Smith”, “Smith, Tom”…
    Tom, Smith, Smith, Tom …

    Screws things up big time.

  17. My Dear Friend:

    Thanks a lot for this post, I have everything working ok! when I finished to apply your instructions.

  18. I am glad that it works for you.

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