I use Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0.2 and would like to backup my e-mail account settings. I don't want to backup the actual e-mails.

I have found a software called MozBackup which is running on Windows only. Is there a way to do that under Linux?

  • Any particular reason you're using 2.x instead of 3.x?
    – digitxp
    Dec 4, 2010 at 16:55
  • Most likely because Ubuntu 9.04 only has 2.x officially supported.
    – user54114
    Dec 4, 2010 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


You have (at least) two options:

You could try to use MozBackup with wine. Wine is a compatibility program to use Windows applications on Linux and Mac. There is no entry for MozBackup in the compatibility database yet, so no idea whether it's going to work or not. If you take this approach, please create a testing report for others to see.

Your second option is to just copy everything residing in your profile folder except the folders Mail and ImapMail. This is what MozBackup does internally, it just creates a zip file with your data in it. The profile folder is in


where id is a randomly generated string. Just look around and identify the folder with your emails in it.

Update: I just tested MozBackup with wine. It seems to install and run well, but I didn't test the backup integrity, so beware. Steps:

  1. install wine via synaptic
  2. download Mozbackup
  3. Install Mozbackup with wine
  4. Open a console
  5. Generate a symlink to your thunderbird folder:

    ln -s .thunderbird thunderbirdlink

  6. Run MozBackup, select "Portable" when choosing your profile.

  7. Navigate to your Home Folder, choose "thunderbirdlink" and then your profile folder within.
  8. Select the stuff you want to back up, do your backup
  9. remove your symlink with

    rm thunderbirdlink

For another backup or restore, repeat steps 4-9. Or just leave the symlinks alive and only do steps 6-8.

  • For me there doesn't seem to be a ~/.thunderbird/ folder on Ubuntu 18.04
    – gitaarik
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:22
  • Ah, my Thunderbird installation was apparently packaged with Snap, so the location of my profile folder was ~/snap/thunderbird/common/.thunderbird/fynuyobo.default/ where fynuyobo is a randomly created string that is probably different on your system.
    – gitaarik
    Mar 28, 2019 at 10:50

Thunderbird's settings are in a file called prefs.js your Thunderbird profile folder. These include e-mail settings as well.

To get the location of profile folder:

  • In Thunderbird open the menu and hover the "Help" option
  • In the sub menu, click "Trouble shooting information"
  • At the bottom of the "Application Basics" table, click about:profiles
  • Your profile folder is the Root Directory

In this directory there's a file prefs.js. You can see your preferences in that file. You probably don't want to back up all these settings, because some settings are (operating) system specific. Aside from that, the file itself says you shouldn't change this file directly:

// Mozilla User Preferences                                                            

// DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE.                                                              
// If you make changes to this file while the application is running,                  
// the changes will be overwritten when the application exits.                         
// To change a preference value, you can either:                                       
// - modify it via the UI (e.g. via about:config in the browser); or                   
// - set it within a user.js file in your profile.                                    

So if you want to backup your e-mail account settings, you should find the relevant settings in that file and put them in a file called user.js. Then you can copy this file to another machine and put it in the profile folder over there, just next to the prefs.js file.

Note: also settings that you adjust in the about:config page (that you can reach through Preferences -> Advanced -> Config Editor) are saved in prefs.js so you can also copy these to your user.js file to retain possible adjustments you made.

Disclaimer: I have never backed up my e-mail account settings, just some general Thunderbird preferences, so I don't know which settings you'll need to back up exactly to make it work properly.

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