I mistakenly deleted ~4GB and 8 years of old emails using Thunderbird. They were from 2 IMAPed email accounts (one Gmail and one a private server that I (and several others) control). It's not a huge deal -- there was nothing important, but sometimes I do want to go and check something from years ago.

I had it IMAPed and locally downloading to three computers. The one I did it too, they are gone on, and it synced them up to the servers. So when I opened the other, it synced the deletion down to that too. But for the 3rd I have wised up, and not opened Thunderbird.

I have found in %AppData%\Thunderbird\Profiles\6io4tatw.default\ImapMail what I believe to be the local copies of the emails. An MSF file and a folder for each of my accounts, each containing, a pile of MSF files, matching each of my IMAPped folder names, and a matching set of files without extensions.

So I want to use these, to recover my lost emails. (I've now backed them up to two separate locations in case something goes wrong)

Since I deleted the emails, I have gotten several other emails on my accounts which I also need to keep.

So my idea is that I should some how to convert the backed-up local copies of the deleted emails into a local mail account, and then copy them all back into the IMAPed accounts using Thunderbird.

Does this sound like a sensible plan?

I'm not sure how to start doing it


I would, first, make a copy of the mailbox folders that you found. Just make a copy on your desktop or some other folder so you don't lose them by mistake.

Next, you should be able to import those messages back in to Thunderbird. You can't import directly in to an IMAP account, but you can create a secondary junk POP account to import in to and then drag and drop the messages to your IMAP account.

So, you would open Thunderbird, add a generic mailbox - it doesn't have to actually work. Then select the inbox and right-click to import. Navigate to the mailbox folders you made a copy of and import the messages.

Here's instructions from Mozilla to do the import: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Importing_folders#Find_the_mail_folders

You might want to actually copy the mail folders to one of the already messed up computers for added protection. This way, if something does go wrong you still know you didn't open Thunderbird on the 'good' computer.

  • Those instructions you link to are so so far out of date that can't be used with anything vaguely current. (Also BTW I said in the OP that I had backed it up twice) – Lyndon White Aug 4 '17 at 14:09
  • You don't have to be rude about it. I haven't used Thunderbird in a while. But, you can still import the mail using the same or similar process detailed in the link. Here is another link: kb.mozillazine.org/Thunderbird_:_FAQs_:_Migration I would think you would at least explore the option, as you asked for help, and I provided you what I feel is the best solution. I don't see any other answers, yet. – Appleoddity Aug 4 '17 at 15:08
  • I don't intend to be rude, Its just I can't work out another way to communicate that there are significant problems with a heavily link-based answer when the link is out of date. I am sorry, I was hoping for succinct not insulting (I didn't downvote). – Lyndon White Aug 4 '17 at 23:54

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