Back Up or Copy a Mozilla Thunderbird Profile

Chair and desk with laptop
Stuart O'Sullivan/Stone/Getty Images
Was this page helpful?

Create an archive of all your Mozilla Thunderbird data (emails, contacts, settings,…) as a backup or to copy it to a different computer.

All Your Emails in New Places

All your emails, contacts, filters, settings and what not in one place—Mozilla Thunderbird—are great, but in two places, they are even better. This is true in particular if that other place is a shiny new computer emitting the certain new laptop smell.

Fortunately, copying all your Mozilla Thunderbird data is easy.

It Is a Mozilla Thunderbird Backup, Too

You may have noticed that I did not mention backups yet. This is because you need a backup when you have lost your data—and you will, of course, not lose your data. So, you will not need a backup of your Mozilla Thunderbird data—because you have one: copying a Mozilla Thunderbird profile makes for a perfect (and easily created) backup.

Back Up or Copy Your Mozilla Thunderbird Profile (Email, Settings,...)

To copy your complete Mozilla Thunderbird profile:

  1. Make sure Mozilla Thunderbird is not running.
  2. Open your Mozilla Thunderbird profile directory:
    • ​Using Windows:
      1. ​Select Start | Run… (Windows XP), right-click on the Start menu and select Run from the menu that appears (Windows 8.1, 10) or select Start | All Programs | Accessories | Run (Windows Vista).
      2. Type "%appdata%" (not including the quotation marks).
      3. Click OK.
      4. Open the Thunderbird folder.
      5. Now open the Profiles folder.
      6. Optionally, open a specific profile's directory.
    • Using macOS or OS X:
      1. ​Open a new Finder window.
      2. Hit Command-Shift-G.
        • ​You can also select Go | Go to Folder… from the menu.
      3. Type "~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/" (not including the quotation marks).
      4. Click Go.
      5. Optionally, open a specific Mozilla Thunderbird profile folder.
    • Using Linux:
      1. ​Open a Terminal or file browser window.
      2. Go to the "~/.thunderbird" directory.
      3. Optionally, go to a specific profile's directory.
  1. Highlight all files and folders in it.
  2. Copy the files to the desired backup location.
    • It is usually a good idea to compress the files and folders to a zip file and move the zip file instead:
    • In Windows, click on one of the selected files with the right mouse button and select Send to | Compressed (zipped) folder from the context menu that has appeared.
    • In macOS or OS X, click on one of the highlighted files with the right mouse button and select Compress ___ items from the context menu that has appeared; the compressed file will be called Archive.zip.
    • In a Linux Terminal window, type "tar -zcf MozillaProfiles.tar.gz *" (not including the quotation marks) and hit Enter; the compressed file will be called MozillaProfiles.tar.gz.

    Now you can restore the profile on another computer, or when problems arise.

    (Updated June 2016, tested with Mozilla Thunderbird 48)