How to backup/restore email using Thunderbird?

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  • Applies to: All Services
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 5-10
    • Tools Required: Thunderbird


The following guide will show you how to backup & restore your Thunderbird email.

If you are looking for information on setting up an account in Thunderbird, feel free to review the additional article below:

This article is primarily for Thunderbird for Mac version 60.6.1 (64-bit) on Sierra (OSX 10.12.32). Your version of Apple Mail may vary depending on the version of Mac OSX you are using.

Please keep in mind that troubleshooting the configuration/functionality of third-party applications is not covered by our statement of support. These resources were provided as a courtesy to assist you to the extent of our abilities. For more information on our statement of support, feel free to click here.


By default, Thunderbird does not have a built-in backup feature. As such, the backup/restore options vary slightly from other mail clients.

EML file

One method is to backup your email messages as .eml files:

  1. While in Thunderbird, select the desired messages. You may also use CTRL+A to select all messages.


  2. With your messages highlighted, select File >> Save As >> File.


  3. Save your messages.
  4. That's it! Your messages will be saved as an .eml file.


  5. To restore the messages, drag & drop the .eml file(s) into a new or existing mailbox.



Thunderbird also saves information as "profiles". These can act as a "backup."

  1. While on your Mac's home screen, select Go. Hold the Option key. Then click on Library.

  2. Navigate to Thunderbird >> Profiles. You should see a list of profiles currently on your device.


  3. Copy the desired profile(s), and paste/save them in a desired location.


  4. To restore, simply drag & drop your backup profile(s) to Thunderbird >> Profiles


We hope this guide has been helpful! Do keep in mind that Media Temple is not the developer of Thunderbird. If further assistance is required, we suggest viewing the Resources link below, contacting Apple Support directly, or contacting your local IT specialist.