How to Migrate from Evolution to Thunderbird in Linux

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Featured

Evolution for Linux comes with the ability to do a lot out of the box, including handling contacts, calendars, and tasks. However, Thunderbird can accommodate more addons and is more lightweight. For this reason, you may want to give it a shot. If you are already using Evolution, here’s how you can migrate your data from Evolution to Thunderbird in Linux.

Downloading and Installing Thunderbird

If you don’t already have Thunderbird installed on your system, you can grab it from the Snap store or just install it from your package manager/Software Center.

Migrating Mail From Evolution to Thunderbird

The easiest way to export your data from Evolution is to browse to the folder(s) you want to back up. Then, go to “File -> Select All.”

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Select All

Next, select File and choose “Save as mbox.” Save this file to a location of your choice.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Save Mbox 1

Head to Thunderbird. Go to the add-ons manager and search for ImportExportTools NG. Select “Add to Thunderbird.” You’ll need this Thunderbird addon to be able to mange tasks.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Add Plugin

Restart Thunderbird, then right-click on a folder where you want to import the mail data to. Select “ImportExportTools NG,” and then import mbox file.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Import Thunderbird

Select “Import directly one or more mbox files.” You’ll be able to choose the file you exported from Evolution earlier. Restart Thunderbird, and you’ll be able to view your emails.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Import Mbox

Migrating Tasks from Evolution to Thunderbird

In Evolution, go to Tasks. Click on the list you want to back up and select “Save As.” Save the list to a location of your choice as an .ics file.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Tasks Save

Head to Thunderbird and select the Calendar tab. Open the menu and go to “Events and Tasks” and then Import. Select the file that you saved in Evolution and then open it. You will now see your tasks from Evolution in the Tasks tab.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Import Tasks

Migrating Calendar

To migrate a calendar from Evolution, first go to the Calendar tab in Evolution, right-click on the calendar you want to migrate, and select “Save As.” Save the calendar in the .ics format.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Save Calendar

Now that you have the calendar saved, you can import it into Thunderbird. Go to Thunderbird, open the menu, select Import, and open the .ics file that you saved earlier in Evolution. You should now see your events appear.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Import Calendar

Migrating Contacts

In order to migrate contacts in Evolution, select the contacts list that you want to export to Thuderbird and click on “Save as vCard.” Save the file to a location of your choice.

Migrate Evolution Save Contacts

In Thunderbird, open the “Address Book,” select Tools, and select the Address Books option.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Import Vcf

Follow the steps of the wizard and select the .vcf file that you saved in Evolution. You’ll be able to view the same contacts you had in Evolution.

Migrate Evolution Thunderbird Import Contacts 1

As you can see, it is pretty straightforward to migrate data from Evolution to Thunderbird. There are also tons of addons for Thunderbird that you can use to extend its functionality. Check it out and see if you like it.

William Elcock William Elcock

William has been fiddling with tech for as long as he remembers. This naturally transitioned into helping friends with their tech problems and then into tech blogging.


  1. Thunderbird is a great e-mail client! Evolution has done absolutely *NOTHING* but crash *EVERY* time I tried to use it. From the first days of using Linux back in 2000 to the present, Evolution has done nothing but crash on me whenever I tried to use it. That’s two *DECADES* of probably 20+ different distros being tried out and used (stayed with SuSE for 4 or 5 years until they decided it was a Good Thing to deal with an unethical company such as M$! Presently have been using Slackware for 8+ years I believe it’s been). Either way, you couldn’t pay me to use or even *try* Evolution again…no one on the planet has enough money to pay me.

    1. I use Ubuntu Mate and was disappointed to find Evolution as the default mail client instead of Thunderbird in the last LTS release. The good news is Thunderbird is still in the repository, or you can install the official build of Mozilla Thunderbird by adding the repository from SourceForge, which is what I do.
      The problem was when Mozilla decided not to work on updating Thunderbird, it was a big mistake they corrected, but a lot of damage was done.

    2. You have clearly expressed my toughts as well. ( As a self–taught I wish I could be a native English speaker. I have A LOT to say but my English “some” poor.)
      I totally I agree with you. I hopped among 10 distros thru the years but never found mostly working software piece which is REALLY NEEEDED by everyone as known “productivity packages”. I tried “Kontact”, “Evolution” and some minors but no hope. Also Thunderbird’s features some limited. No modern contact manager like “Apple Contacts” and task management is very weak for me.
      On the other hand after am trying to develop some in-house “small business databases” with Openoffice/Libreoffice Base which is mostly crashes after decades of first release. Kexi is still under “heavy development” and not ready for “production” after 15 years of first release.
      However I f you need some “music player” linux has thousands of them. (I don’t blame the developers who like to develop music players.)
      That’s why linux ecosystem is being only BIG TECH’s “sub-system”. Also there are some many other reasons for that. (Donation model etc.)
      We personal users, small businesses, communities as well as others, need really working open source “productivity” software.

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