How to Import Email From Mozilla Thunderbird Into Gmail

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Gmail offers a great deal of space, useful search capabilities, and universal access. You can bring all this utility to your Mozilla Thunderbird email by importing it into your Gmail account. Just a few minutes of configuration will make your email accessible, searchable, and securely stored.

Why Not Just Forward Your Messages?

Sure, you can forward the messages, but this is hardly an elegant or fully functional solution.

The messages will lose their original senders, and emails you've sent won't appear to have been sent by you. You'll also lose some of Gmail's very useful organizational capabilities—for instance, Conversation View, which groups emails on the same topic together.

Import Email From Mozilla Thunderbird to Gmail Using IMAP

Fortunately, Gmail offers IMAP access—a protocol that keeps your emails on a server but lets you see and work with them as if they were stored locally (meaning, on your device). Fortunately, it also turns importing email into a rather simple drag-and-drop affair. To copy your messages from Mozilla Thunderbird to Gmail:

  1. Set up Gmail as an IMAP account in Mozilla Thunderbird.
  2. Open the folder containing the emails you want to import.
  3. Highlight the messages you want to import. (If you want to import them all, press Ctrl-A or Command-A to highlight all messages.)
  4. Select Message | Copy from the menu, followed by the target Gmail folder, as follows.
    • For messages you have received: [Gmail]/All Mail.
    • For sent mail: [Gmail]/Sent Mail.
    • For emails you want to appear in the Gmail inbox: Inbox.
    • For messages you want to show up in a label: the folder matching the Gmail label.

    Import Mail From Mozilla Thunderbird in Gmail Using Gmail Loader

    A little tool (some would say "hack") called Gmail Loader also can move your Mozilla Thunderbird email to Gmail in a clean and seamless way.

    To copy your messages from Mozilla Thunderbird to Gmail:

    1. Make sure you have compacted all folders in Mozilla Thunderbird.
    1. Download and extract Gmail Loader.
    2. Double-click gmlw.exe to launch Gmail Loader.
    3. Click Find under Configure Your Email File.
    4. Locate the file pertaining to the Mozilla Thunderbird folder you want to import into Gmail. You can find these under your Mozilla Thunderbird message store folder. Most likely, you'll have to make Windows display hidden files and folders to see the Application Data folder. Use the files that do not have a file extension (not the .msf files).
    5. Click Open.
    6. Make sure mBox (Netscape, Mozilla, Thunderbird) is selected under File Type: in Gmail Loader.
    7. If you are migrating sent messages, choose Mail I Sent (Goes to Sent Mail) under Message Type:. Otherwise, select Mail I Received (Goes to Inbox).
    8. Type your full Gmail address under Enter Your Gmail Address.
    9. Click Send to Gmail.

    Troubleshooting

    If you run into problems moving email to Gmail using Gmail Loader, try changing the SMTP server to gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com, gsmtp183.google.com, or gsmtp163.google.com with authentication not enabled, or enter the SMTP server details given to you by your ISP.