Back Up Thunderbird Message Filters

15-12-2013 | Remy van Elst


Table of Contents


This tutorial shows you how to backup and restore the mail message filters in Thunderbird on multiple platforms. The filters are in a plain text file located in your thunderbird Profile folder. On Mac OS X for example this is under the /Users/<username>/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<profile>/ImapMail/<mailserver>/ folder. (If you use IMAP.)

The file is named msgFilterRules.dat and the contents look a bit like this:

version="9"
logging="no"
name="From is: dan@sixgun.org"
enabled="yes"
type="17"
action="Move to folder"
actionValue="imap://user%40host.com@imap.server.com/Folder"
condition="AND (from,is,dan@sixgun.org)"

The above example moves any email coming from the email address dan@sixgun.org to the folder Folder on the IMAp account.

To back up all the filters, do the following:

  • Close all instances of Thunderbird
  • Copy the file msgFilterRules.dat to a backup location.

To restore the file, to the following:

  • Close all instances of Thunderbird
  • Copy the file msgFilterRules.dat back into your (possibly new) profile folder

Under any normal Linux distro the path probably is like this:

/home/<username>/.thunderbird/Profiles/<profile>/ImapMail/<mailserver>/msgFilterRules.dat

For Mac OS X the path is like this:

/Users/<username>/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<profile>/ImapMail/<mailserver>/msgFilterRules.dat

For Windows the path probably is like this on pre Vista machines:

C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\<profile>\ImapMail\<mailserver>\msgFilterRules.dat

The latter versions of Windows (vista, 7, 8):

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\<profile>\ImapMail\<mailserver>\msgFilterRules.dat

If you want to convert these Thunderbird rules to .procmailrc rules a script for that can be found here: http://sourceforge.net/p/tbprocmailconv/code/HEAD/tree/tbprocmailconv.py


Tags: debian, filters, os-x, procmail, thunderbird, ubuntu, windows,