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Recently I changed my OS from XP to W7. I made backup of any Outlook Express messages (the dbx files and adress book as CSV). On W7 I want to import that data into Thunderbird. There is option for importing from Outlook Express, but it is looking for live application data (I can't specify directory with real files myself) and there is no Outlook Express installed on W7 so I can't just import it back to it and then into Thunderbird.

How can I import that data into Thunderbird?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Address Book

You can import your Outlook Express Emails directly into to Mozilla Thunderbird 3.

Make sure you import from the original identity folders that Outlook Express stores the emails in:

Outlook Express contains all of it's messages for different "identities" in a folder like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities

...within that folder will be a bunch of folders with GUID's as their folder names i.e.:


Within each of these folders is a seperate OE identity.

Note that these folders contain the groups of *.dbx files (abit a few sub-directories down) which represent the folders you see within OE when using a particular identity, thus each of these folders represents an identity.

Now when you try to import the data into Thunderbird from OE the mistake that most people make is copying these *.dbx files from their identity folder and trying to import them on their own; when what you really need to do is leave them in their specific identity directory and then import them from there into Windows Live Mail.

The best way to import the mail from Outlook Express is to keep your mail in these folders, when you import them into Thunderbird, because that way you won't miss any of the folders.

  1. In Thunderbird, from the menubar select Tools->Import
  2. When prompted click the Mail radio button to import the messages we exported in WLM eariler, and click next
  3. Select Outlook Express, and once again click next
  4. Lastly select the folder containing your identity C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\ {2FACB608-D7C6-4C50-B8B9-9D4BF365B8C2}\Microsoft\Outlook Express or something close to that and click next, it should import all of the emails, it should list a summary of the mail that successfully imported, from here you can click Finish and enjoy your archives in an email folder within Thunderbird called Local Folders/Outlook Express Import

Importing Your Address Book as a CSV file

Now if you want to import the csv file, that's easy enough in Thunderbird

  1. Open Thunderbird 3.
  2. Click Address Book in the toolbar.
  3. In the resulting Address Book window, from the menubar click Tools->Import...
  4. A Import window will appear, and select the Address Books Radio button and click next.
  5. Select the type of file you'd like to import (in your case it would be Text file (LDIF, .tab, .csv, .txt) and click next
  6. Select the .csv file that you exported (be sure to select Comma Seperated from the list)
  7. After that it's just a matter of importing the file, if it doesn't work correctly, don't panic, since you can just delete the imported address book, and try to import it all over again.
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The problem is I had migrated to Windows 7 x64 as I mentioned in first post - I do not have C:\Documents and Settings folder anymore nor Outlook Express in my OS :-) – PiotrK Nov 12 '10 at 20:20
@piotrk Well I'm not sure that that matters so much as just having all of your *.dbx files in the same directory that they were always contained in. If you just took all of your *.dbx files from multiple directories and threw them all into the same directory, or mixed them up, then it won't work. But if they're all together in the same directory as they originally were without being mixed up you should have success, I think. Can anyone else verify this? – leeand00 Nov 12 '10 at 21:34

Clean up your CSV-file before importing to Thunderbird!

I realise it's an aged post, but I just worked out a solution:

(1) coming from XP Outlook Express 6.0, I exported the adressbook as a .CSV text file.

Now you have a CSV-file with your contacts line-by-line something like this:
Doe, John;
Doe, Jane;

If you just try to import this into Thunderbird, it will look for "commas" to create the columns, not semicolons by default! You'd get a contact like: "Doe " "John;" ...

(2) So, I opened the CSV-file as a spreadsheet (i.e. MS Excel or OpenOffice Calc), and exported again to a CSV while specifying the text delimiter as " and the column seperator as "," (comma). With this you now get contacts: "Doe, John", ... better!

(3) Now, import the CSV into Thunderbird. IMPORTANT: move the columns up or down according to the structure. Name -> Name, Primary Mail -> Primary Mail !!! Get it?

Done. If your lucky. Like me ;)

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From my old XP machine with Outlook Express, I exported my OE address book - from main OE menu - (File...Export...Address Book...Text File (Comma Separated Values). Then moved this file to the Win7 machine. Then from Thunderbird main menu, Tools...Import...Address Books...Text file (LDIF, .tab, .csv, .txt). Browse to the file location where you placed it, and change the type file list selection to Comma Separated.

If you don't get a good import, you may need to deselect the "first column" option. No problem - you may delete a bad import and try repeatedly.

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Yes, but this not solve the problem of dbx files – PiotrK Dec 17 '10 at 14:43

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