Migrating from Kmail to Evolution or Thunderbird

03 Mar

I have spent a couple dozen hours on this in the last several days. “Akonadi server is not registered at dbus!” This is the error message from the Akonadi Server Self-Test in KDE 4.6. (But I’ve seen it in previous versions also. Many different permutations of answers to no avail. Therefore: (sob, sob) abandon Kmail in favor of Thunderbird. Big Problem: how to export mail from Kmail when it keeps throwing errors, and there is no import filter for Kmail’s maildir structure in T-bird or Evolution? Here’s my answer:
(Preface note: when the Akonadi server error pops up, DO NOT push the close button! Just move the error window to the side, and keep working as instructed below, even though the window is greyed out!)
0) Create a temporary folder on the desktop
1) Open Kmail
2) Open a mail folder you want to migrate
3) Select all emails in the folder
4) Right-click on the selected emails, select “Save As”
5) In the Save As window that pops up, navigate to your temporary folder created earlier. In the “Location” field, type the name of the folder you are migrating (e.g. “Inbox”). You do not need to add any filename extension. In the “Filter” field, make sure it says “.mbox”. Click the save button.
6) This should create a file “Inbox.mbox” in your temporary folder.
7) Repeat this for every folder you want to migrate! 😦
8) Then you will need to use Evolutions or Thunderbirds import wizard to import each individual mbox file you just created in your temporary folder.

What a pain!


Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Migrating from Kmail to Evolution or Thunderbird

  1. Graham

    October 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    If like me you have hundreds of mail folders with thousands of messages, anything manual is far too much of a pain. So here’s an alternative:

    Step 1. Archive the KMail mail folders.
    Step 2. Create a “disconnected” IMAP account in KMail.
    Step 3. Copy all your local mail folders to the server, typically inside the Inbox. It can take hours for all the folders to be filled with copies of your locally-stored messages but it will eventually finish.
    Step 4. Create an IMAP account in Thunderbird and wait for it to synchronise in the opposite direction, creating and filling local folders on your system. Again it takes hours.

    You can probably run 3 and 4 at the same time and let the systems synchronise themselves. Leave it a day or two to sweep up all the messages then you can uninstall KMail and delete its mail folders.

  2. Guy

    January 26, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    How to you set up a disconnected IMAP account?

  3. Graham

    January 27, 2015 at 4:48 am

    I vaguely remember writing the answer above – it’s a long time ago. I can’t now remember what ‘disconnected’ means but I believe it’s where your system keeps a copy of all messages locally as well as retaining them on the mail server. I think that’s the way things are normally done now so no need for the extra ‘disconnected’ adjective. An IMAP account is the same thing whether it’s disconnected or not. You might have to tell the server you’re changing from POP3 to IMAP but likely as not it won’t care.

    If you’re still using POP3 then try to find time to make the change because IMAP is far better for most people. It allows you to keep your mail account on several computers – including smartphones – and they all remain synchronized at all times. But most importantly it doesn’t care which email client you use, so clunkers like KMail or that outright abortion known as Windows Live Mail can be consigned to the trash can. Thunderbird is a pretty good product but it isn’t perfect and maybe something better will come along. If/when that happens you want to be free to jump ship without weeks of work. Make your future life simpler!

  4. Kai Spiess

    November 18, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Thanks so much for your instruction (followed original instruction above) it did the job also in a very quick time ! > 17.000 email were imported in less than 1 hour work. So your instruction is just great ! Thanks again.


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