Email Saving

Saving IMAP email into local folders

Reviewed by Murray Anderegg 02/27/2013

This document describes how to save all of your IMAP email into local folders, which may be copied to another machine or site.  If you are moving your email to another site and you already have access from that site, then create an email account at that site and transfer the mail over in the most convenient way.  For example, in Thunderbird, you can set up both accounts on your Thunderbird client and then drag email a folder at a time from one IMAP account to another.

If you wish to archive email to media such as a DVD, then you will need to save the data locally and then use your favorite DVD burner software to “burn” the data onto the DVD.

The remainder of this page describes how to save email to local folders under Linux, Windows, and Macintosh operating systems.

Saving to local folders in Linux

Presumption: you are using a mozilla type email reader (e.g., Thunderbird).

Under Mozilla (as of Thunderbird-3.1.7), under the File menu is the sub-menu, Offline, and in there the menu item, Offline Settings.  This brings you to the ‘Offline and Disk Settings’ dialog of the ‘Mail and News Account Settings’ preferences.  In this dialog, the user can select whether to mark the inbox as offline, set new folder offline creation preferences, and select other folders for offline use.  Click the ‘Select’ button to bring up a selection dialog of folders. Select any folders that you wish to save locally.

Remember to descend into folders and subfolders to mark all of the folders that you wish to save.

Offline folders are saved in your ~/.mozilla/<username>/<hashed profile name>/ImapMail/<imap server name> directory.  For example, user anderegg’s folders are saved in ~anderegg/.mozilla/anderegg/sbt7x301.slt/ImapMail/imap1.cs.unc.edu/INBOX.

When you are finished selecting folders, select OK.  Return to the File menu, Offline submenu and select ‘Download/Sync Now’ to begin a transfer of all marked folders to your ‘Local Folders’ directory.

Saving to local folders in Windows

Presumption: you are using a mozilla type email reader.

Under Mozilla (as of Thunderbird-3.1.7), under the File menu is the sub-menu, Offline, and in there the menu item, Offline Settings.  This brings you to the ‘Offline and Disk Settings’ dialog of the ‘Mail and News Account Settings’ preferences.  In this dialog, the user can select whether to mark the inbox as offline, set new folder offline creation preferences, and select other folders for offline use.  Click the ‘Select’ button to bring up a selection dialog of folders. Select any folders that you wish to save locally.

Remember to descend into folders and subfolders to mark all of the folders that you wish to save.

Offline folders are saved in your mozilla profile directory.  To see where this is in Thunderbird, click “Tools”, then “Account Settings”, and then on the left click “Local Folders”.  The location of your local folder directory is displayed on the right side of the window.

When you are finished selecting folders, select OK.  Return to the File menu, Offline submenu and select ‘Download/Sync Now’ to begin a transfer of all marked folders to your ‘Local Folders’ directory.

Saving to local folders on a Mac

Presumption: you are using a mozilla type email reader.

Under Mozilla (as of thunderbird-3.1.7), under the File menu is the sub-menu, Offline, and in there the menu item, Offline Settings.  This brings you to the ‘Offline and Disk Settings’ dialog of the ‘Mail and News Account Settings’ preferences. In this dialog, the user can select whether to mark the inbox as offline, set new folder offline creation preferences, and select other folders for offline use.  Click the ‘Select’ button to bring up a selection dialog of folders.  Select any folders that you wish to save locally.

Remember to descend into folders and subfolders to mark all of the folders that you wish to save.

Offline folders are saved in your mozilla profile directory.  This directory is usually located in /Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/Thunderbird.

When you are finished selecting folders, select OK.  Return to the File menu, Offline submenu and select ‘Download/Sync Now’ to begin a transfer of all marked folders to your ‘Local Folders’ directory.