Skip to main content Logo

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Home | About | All pages | Cluster Status | RSS Feed

Back Up Thunderbird Message Filters

Published: 15-12-2013 | Author: Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article

❗ This post is over ten years old. It may no longer be up to date. Opinions may have changed.

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.)

Recently I removed all Google Ads from this site due to their invasive tracking, as well as Google Analytics. Please, if you found this content useful, consider a small donation using any of the options below:

I'm developing an open source monitoring app called Leaf Node Monitoring, for windows, linux & android. Go check it out!

Consider sponsoring me on Github. It means the world to me if you show your appreciation and you'll help pay the server costs.

You can also sponsor me by getting a Digital Ocean VPS. With this referral link you'll get $100 credit for 60 days.

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

name="From is:"
action="Move to folder"
condition="AND (from,is,"

The above example moves any email coming from the email address 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:


For Mac OS X the path is like this:


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):


If you want to convert these Thunderbird rules to .procmailrc rules a script for that can be found here:

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