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Migrate Opera Mail to Thunderbird (or another email client)

  • I have used Opera Mail (standalone version) for years and realize it's outdated and not supported so I want to change the email client. Does anyone have experience with transferring the Opera mail box including labels to another client, like e.g. Thunderbird? Is it possible to keep the Opera labels as filters in the new client? Apparently SysTtools could be used, but how good is it? Not straight forward to migrate thousands of emails with various labels.

  • For IMAP accounts, you don't do anything special. You just set up your IMAP accounts in Thunderbird and use it. Opera does have a way to set keywords on IMAP messages so that they can show up as tags automatically Thunderbird. But, Thunderbird only makes use of keywords it sets itself. So, labels won't be carried over in this case. Also, in Opera, a label has rules that pull messages into that label. In Thunderbird, rules are a separate feature called "filters" which perform actions like putting a message in a folder or tagging a message. So, things are a little different. Thunderbird also has different "views" and custom ones you can create that work like the "show" settings for a view/message list in Opera. Thunderbird also has "saved searches" that kind of work like a view or a label with rules and "show messages from" in Opera. As in, saved searches can be global. Thunderbird alos has a uninfied folder view in the folder pane as an option (might be on by default, I forget) that works like Opera's "All Messages" access point.

    In short, you can do most of the stuff you do in Opera. You just do things in a different way.

    Now, for POP accounts, you can convert your labels to folders. In Thunderbird, set up your POP accounts fresh and then create a folder for each label you have. Then, install the import/export tools add-on. Then, in Opera, for each label you have, go into its properties and set "hide messages from other views". For your "Inbox" view, make sure "show hidden" isn't checked. For your "Sent" view (the one under the POP access point in the mail panel), make sure "show sent" is checked. For "All Messages/Drafts", make sure "Show sent" is checked too. Then, make sure each message is only in a single label (or "Inbox") at a time (to avoid duplicates when exporting).

    Then, it's time to export. Right-click on the "Inbox" view for each POP account and choose "export". Save as "account 1 - Inbox.mbs" for example. Do this for "Sent" also. Then, right-click in the mail panel and set "show messages from" to the specific POP account you want. Then, right-click on "All Messages/Drafts" and export it. Then, right-click on each of your labels and export them. Then, repeat all that for all your other POP accounts.

    You should now have an mbs file (MBOX file) to all of your views. Then, you just use the import/export add-ons tool to import each mbox into the corresponding folder under the account you want.

    Once you're done, everything will be sorted into folders in Thunderbird. Then, if any of your labels in Opera Mail had rules, you'll need to manually create filters in Thunderbird that automatically move messages to the folder you want.

    Now, if you had labels in Opera that showed messages from multiple accounts, you'd manually create "Saved searches" instead. Those allow you to search messages by rules and they allow you to pick what accounts and folders to search in. Or, if you wanted to make use of tags for Opera's labels instead of folders in Thundberbird, you'd import into folder like mentioned above, select all messages in a folder and tag them (with a custom-named tag that you define). Then, you'd move the messages to the Inbox and then delete the folders. Then, if you wanted to auto-tag messages based on rules, you'd do that with filters.

    Those are your options.

  • Note though. When exporting POP messages, messages that are still on the server will be exported to. This will result in duplicates in Thunderbird. You'll have a copy that's fetched from the server and a copy that you import from Opera.

    You can handle this in two ways. In Opera, you can create a label named "noexport", set it to "hide these messages from other views" and put messages that you know are still on the server in it. Then, just don't export that label. Or, instead, you can uncheck "leave messages on server' in Opera Mail and do a check/send so they're all removed from the server. Another way you could do it actually is to just import the messages in Thunderbird and deleted the imported duplicates and keep the ones fetched from the server. It's up to you.

    Also, I forget to mention in my previous post that there's another way to transfer POP messages (that are no longer are the server) from Opera Mail to Thunderbird. In Opera Mail, in addition to the POP account, set up an IMAP account for the same username and password. Then, select the messages you want in the POP account and drag them to the "Inbox" IMAP folder (or other IMAP folder) in the IMAP account. That will cause Opera to upload the messages to the server. Then, in Thunderbird, wen you set up your POP or IMAP account, the messages will just be there. Just remember that POP only fetches from "Inbox" on the server. So, if you're going to use POP in Thunderbird, make sure to upload to "Inbox" in Opera.

    Doing the uploading way can work really nicely. But, it can take a long time to upload the messages back to the server. And, things will be pretty much unsorted in Thunderbird then. But, the cool thing about doing the uploading way is that it'll work with any client you switch to without even export and importing. All depends on what you want to do.

  • Great. Many thanks for your detailed reply. Finally I got some time to do this and it works fine.
    One additional question: What's the easiest way to export the address book from Opera to Thunderbird then? It seems the .adr file from Opera needs to be converted to either .csv or other formats. I guess I could make a small program to do this conversion, but I believe there must be easier ways to do this?

  • @donquijote said in Migrate Opera Mail to Thunderbird (or another email client):

    Finally I got some time to do this and it works fine.


    @donquijote said in Migrate Opera Mail to Thunderbird (or another email client):

    It seems the .adr file from Opera needs to be converted to either .csv or other formats. I guess I could make a small program to do this conversion, but I believe there must be easier ways to do this?

    That's the only format Opera supports. You'll have to convert the adr file to csv with a program you write or one found on the net. (written by a former Opera employee) will probably work for some fields. Or, search for adr to csv on google and some utilities will come up.

  • Thanks, the .adr to .csv conversion from Hallvord works and after some manipulation I get a two column excel file with names in the left column and email addresses in the right one. I convert this to csv and it seems the Tbird importer reads it correctly , splitting into these two fields. The addressbook importer is somewhat confusing in my view showing a menu with two columns. The left column shows a long list of tick boxes and the right column the two elements to import (one on top of the other) but how do one match one to the other or how do I select things in both columns? I have ticked off Name and Primary email address in the tick boxes in the left column and after realising that I need to add a header line in the csv with the exact field names (in the correct language, Norwegian in my case) I was able to import somehting, but I get actually two address books with the exact same content and that is only one field, i.e. the names only.

    I would expect that I should select both the field names in the left column and the fields on the csv file in the right column, but that isnt possible, it seems. Very confusing to me.

  • @donquijote It's been a while since I used the importer. I'll have to check it with a converted-from-adr csv file.

    What you could do though is clear your address book in Thunderbird, create a couple entries in it and then have Thunderbird export to csv. Then, you can make the Opera csv file match and maybe importing will be straightforward then (as in, maybe you won't have to config anything).

  • When converting at, I chose "csv" and left "Opera Mail compatible headers" unchecked.

    That produced a csv file like this that I saved as contacts.csv:

    "George Washington",""
    "James Hetfield",""
    "Vanilla Ice",""

    In the Thunderbird addresss book csv import dialog, I unchecked "First record contains field names" since the first row doesn't.

    Then, I unchecked all the field names.

    I then left-clicked "Display Name" so it was checked and selected. I then clicked the "move up" button till "Display Name" was at the top of the list next to the name that was going to be imported ("George Washington" in this case).

    I then left-clicked "Primary email" so it was checked and selected. I then clicked the "move up" button till "Primary Email" was second in the list next to

    I then clicked "OK" and the contacts were imported into a contacts folder named "contacts". I then, selected all the contacts in that contacts folder and dragged them to the personal address folder. I then deleted the "contacts" folder.

    Hope that helps.

  • Ah... That was the trick. Probably obvious to place the associated field names parallel to the actual fields, but I just didn't guess it. I had to do some more fixing to my csv file first though, but when the importer logical was clear, it wasnt much trouble. Many thanks for all your help. This was extremely helpful!