Sunday, December 4, 2011

Transferring Thunderbird/Firefox profile to MAC OSX Lion

A novice user of 11.6 " Mac Book Air and a survivor of couple hard drive crashes on Toshiba Portege, i was faced with the challenge to migrate all my emails, profile settings etc from Windows 7 to Mac OSX Lion. Tried several websites and no help. Thought of trying something and it worked like a charm..

So if you are struggling to transfer your mail account settings and locally stored emails from Win thunderbird to Mac thunderbird, below is the step by step guide.

  1. Thunderbird installed on Mac OS, installs in the following directory - /Users//Library/Thunderbird/profiles. If you want to explore the directory, try MAC + SHIFT + G and type in the complete path. Finder doesn't show certain directories.
  2. This is where the thunderbird profile is stored. Copy the profile from the windows machine and paste it in the profiles folder on MAC.
  3. Rename the existing folder to profile.orig and change the new profile you copied to the profile name created by thunderbird which you just renamed above without the .orig.
  4. Go to thunderbird in offline mode and all your account settings etc will be available in MAC.
  5. Now you can change the local folder to the folder where you wanna store the downloaded emails by going to Tools -> Account Settings --> Local Folder or you can keep the existing one. Close thunderbird.
  6. Copy all the locally stored email files from windows machine over to the local folder identified in step 5.
  7. Restart thunderbird in offline mode and you will have all your emails available for viewing.
  8. You can restart in online mode and start using thunderbird for managing your emails.
You can follow the same profile copy approach for firefox. So far i am happy with Safari as my preferred browser but if you have VMWare for WIN7 you can use the same approach to copy the profiles and you will have the entire data set with saved passwords etc.


  1. I am brand new to the MAC environment. I have no idea how to find the directory or folder on a MAC where the Thunderbird profile is stored. Can you give me detailed step by step directions?

  2. Hi
    This is "Anonymous" who said "I am brand new to the MAC environment.". I discovered that some folders and files are 'invisible' and found that I could download a utility called "Tinker Tool" that would allow me to make 'invisible' folders and files 'visible'. Then after further reading your post, and various other posts, I felt I had a good understanding of what I needed to do to move my email from Win Thunderbird to Mac Thunderbird. And it worked! Thank you!

  3. On my machine (mountain lion) the correct path is /Users//Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/