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I have tons of mail saved in Thunderbird but would like to consider using emacs for reading/writing email. Can any one of the existing emacs email packages (e.g., rmail, gnus, VM, wanderlust, ...) use this archive and also save/store future correspondence in this mail format?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here is a thread on Thunderbird-to-emacs migration. It notes a couple relevant points:

  • Thunderbird uses the standard mbox format, which most mail clients will understand.
  • In particular, VM plays nice with Thunderbird.

Personally, I have tried several emacs mail clients, and mew (which also supports mbox) is what I've settled on. Whatever client you try, expect to spend more time configuring it than you would, say, Thunderbird. Things like "save my sent messages in this folder" and "properly display HTML email" probably won't work like you want them to "out of the box" like a conventional mail client. IMHO, it's a worthwhile investment.

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Thanks -- why mew over VM? –  crippledlambda Aug 26 '11 at 20:48
    
IIRC mew is the only client I've used that lets you keep using emacs while it's checking mail...I have some large IMAP folders, so this comes in handy. I was using VM for a while, but think it was giving me problems on an upgrade (sorry, don't remember details), which is when I discovered mew. –  mboldt Aug 29 '11 at 16:23
    
thanks -- that's great to know! –  crippledlambda Sep 3 '11 at 10:12
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