How To Copy Your Thunderbird Settings To Another Computer

You have just spent hours setting up Thunderbird on your main computer. Now you want to set up your laptop or your another computer with the same settings but you do not want to spend all that time doing it again from scratch. This article shows how to copy the settings / profiles from one computer to another.

Copying Thunderbird 3 settings from Windows to Windows is really easy.

There's a free download that you can use called MozBackup. The link is at the bottom of this article.

• Install MozBackup on your main computer.
• Backup your Thunderbird profile.
• Copy the backup to your secondary computer.
• Install MozBackup on your secondary computer.
• Restore your profile from the backup.

If you would like step by step instructions please refer to the Appendix in the Thunderbird 3.0 Essential Guide.

If you want to copy your Thunderbird settings between Windows, Mac OS X and Linux there are a couple more steps involved but it's not complicated.

I'll refer to the computers as main computer – the one you've set up – and second computer – the one to which you are copying the settings. The menus shown are for copying settings from Windows to Mac OS X, but the steps are the same regardless of which operating systems you use.

Important! All the settings and email stored in Thunderbird on the second computer will be removed. This guide is designed with a new installation of Thunderbird in mind. If you have emails and contacts you wish to keep on your second computer you have to setup an account to synchronize with Gmail, copy your old emails to your Gmail account, and synchronize your contacts with Gmail before you continue. For details on how to do this please read the Thunderbird Essential Guide.

The key steps are:
1. Find the location of your Thunderbird profile on your main computer.
2. Copy your profile from your main computer to a USB drive.
3. Copy your profile from the USB drive to your second computer.
4. Verify paths to mail folders and signatures.

1. Find the location of your Thunderbird profile
The location of your Thunderbird profile folder depends on the operating system you use. If you are unsure of the location you can verify it in Thunderbird.

• Go to the Tools → Account Settings … window (Edit → Account Settings … on Linux).

• Select the Server Settings tab on your account.

• Click the Browse button to verify the location of your mail folder for this account.
Make a note of the folder location.

• Now click on the Local Folders tab.
Then click on Browse.

• Make a note of the location.

2. Copy your profile from your main computer to a USB drive
To copy your profile on to a USB drive simply shut down Thunderbird and go to the folder where your profile is stored. Your name will be different.

Note: You may have issues with hidden folders in Linux and Windows. Tips on how to find them are in the Thunderbird Essential Guide.

Make sure you have sufficient free space on your USB drive before you copy the profile folder.
Now copy the xxxxxxxx.default folder to your USB drive.

3. Copy your profile from the USB drive to the second computer
On your second computer we will copy the contents of the profile folder from the USB drive.

• Install Thunderbird

• Start Thunderbird for the first time so the profile folder gets created.

You do not need to create an account since we are going to overwrite all the settings anyway.

• Shut down Thunderbird.

• Navigate to the profile folder.

Notice how the profile name is different to that of the old computer.

• Open the yyyyyyyy.default folder and delete all the contents of the folder.

Do not delete the yyyyyyyy.default folder – only the contents of the folder!

Important! This will remove all email and settings you have stored on Thunderbird if you already have Thunderbird on this computer. Only do this if you do not wish to keep the old emails.

• On your USB drive open the profile folder from your main computer.

• Copy the contents of the xxxxxxxx.default folder on the USB drive into the yyyyyyyy.default folder on your second computer.

It is important that you do not change the name of the yyyyyyyy.default folder.

4. Verify paths to mail folders and signatures

If you find that the email folders do not appear correctly you will need to verify the folder locations.

• Start Thunderbird again.

• Go to Tools → Account Settings …

• On the Server Settings tab verify the location of your email folders.

• On the Local Folders tab verify the location of your local folders.

• Click on the My Mail IMAP tab.

• Verify that your signatures are set up correctly.

If your signatures are stored in external files you will need to copy these from your main computer too. If you entered your signature in Thunderbird it should be set up correctly.

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