A user manual of Recovery Tool for Mozilla Thunderbird

How to restore permanently deleted or compacted Mozilla Thunderbird emails and folders from the local hard drive.

How to recover permanently deleted emails and lost folders

Permanently deleted emails are messages you deleted using Shift+Del or cleared them from the Trash folder.

Lost folders are folders that have not been deleted and are still stored on the hard drive, yet there is a reason why Thunderbird doesn’t "see" it.

To restore such emails and folders, follow the following steps:

  1. Download, install and run Recovery Tool for Mozilla Thunderbird software.

    When it starts running, the program will load the default Thunderbird profile.

    Open default Thunderbird profile

    If you have more than one profile, you can select a different profile from the dropdown menu, a profile from which you need to restore emails.

    Select a different profile

    The program also supports Thunderbird Portable version. If you are using Thunderbird Portable, tick the "Open Portable Profile" box and select the folder where you originally installed Thunderbird Portable.

    Open Portable profile
  2. Click the "Find and recover lost emails" button on the toolbar to complete the scan of your chosen profile.

    Scan of your chosen profile

    Wait until the end of the scan. The process may take a few minutes.

    To view the contents of the folder simply click on it. The deleted email icons are marked with a small red cross.

    view the contents of profile
  3. Tick the boxes next to the emails you would like to restore. You can mark separate messages within the folder as well as the folder as a whole.

    select the emails you would like to restore

    Press Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select all the emails in the chosen folder.

    You can sort your messages by clicking on the header of the appropriate column.

    sort the messages by clicking on the column's header

    You can also use a filter to only select the emails in the current folder that satisfy the search criteria. Click the "Filter messages" button on the toolbar to open the filter window.

    open the filter window

    In the pop-up "Filter Messages" window click "Add" to set a new search criteria. You can set several parameters at once.

    set a new search criteria

    Click "Apply" to apply the filters to your search.

  4. Click the "Save recovered emails" button on the toolbar.

    Save recovered emails button

    Clicking this button will open a new window, "Select Output Folder". Browse to select the location on your hard drive where you want to save the emails.

    select output folder dialog

    You can also change the method of naming the files of saved emails. To do so, tick "Rename *.eml files" box and select your favourite format from a dropdown menu.

    rename of *.eml files

    Click "Save" to save the restored emails.

    Save button
  5. Import saved messages into Mozilla Thunderbird folder. To achieve that follow instructions below:

    1. Open Windows Explorer and find the location where you saved restored emails. Customize Windows Explorer for convenient viewing of EML files.
    2. Launch Mozilla Thunderbird and select the folder where you would like to import the emails to.
    3. Drag & Drop EML files from Windows Explorer location to the open Thunderbird folder.
    import eml files into the Thunderbird folder

How to restore compacted emails, deleted folders and accounts

If any Thunderbird folder had been compacted or deleted, or if you had deleted a whole Mozilla Thunderbird account, the emails contained in those folder cannot be restored using the method from above. That is due to the fact that MBOX files that used to contain the messages do not contain any information from deleted emails, or because the MBOX files had been deleted themselves. To restore these emails you need to perform a low level scan of the hard drive which stores Thunderbird data:

  1. Download, install and run Recovery Tool for Mozilla Thunderbird software.

  2. Click on "HDD" tab at the top left corner of the program window and select the drive where Thunderbird data is stored. Normally it would be the C: drive.

    HDD scan mode
  3. Click the "Find and recover lost emails" button on the toolbar to perform a low level scan of the selected hard drive.

    run a low level scan of the HDD

    Wait until the scan is completed. The duration depends on the size of the drive and computer’s productivity. It can take up to several hours.

  4. Once the scan has been completed the program will show a list of all the emails found on the hard drive.

    list of the restored emails
  5. Save the restored emails into a hard drive location as instructed here.

    Note: We strongly recommend that you save the emails to a hard drive different from the one where you restored the files from! Otherwise, not all messages may be restored.

  6. Create a temporary folder in Mozilla Thunderbird and place the saved emails into the folder as described here. Then, drag and drop the emails from a temporary folder into appropriate folders.

How to repair a corrupted MBOX file

MBOX files are used for storing emails as separate files. Each folder in Mozilla Thunderbird is linked to one MBOX file.

Mozilla Thunderbird has a built-in "Repair folder" command. However, when using this command Thunderbird only creates a new index file (.msf) for the folder in question and does not fix the MBOX file if it had been corrupted.

To repair a corrupted MBOX file do the following:

  1. Download, install and run Recovery Tool for Mozilla Thunderbird software.

  2. Click on the "MBOX file" tab in the top left corner of the program window and select the MBOX file you need to restore.

    repair MBOX file mode
  3. Click the "Find and recover lost emails" button on the toolbar to perform a scan of a selected file.

    run a scan of the MBOX file

    Wait until the scan is complete. When the program has done the scan, it will show you a list of all emails found within the file.

  4. Click the "Save recovered emails" button on the toolbar.

    save mbox file

    This will open a new dialog box titled "Save MBOX file".

    export Thunderbird to MBOX

    Select "Save messages as a single MBOX file", set the name for a repaired MBOX file and then click "Save".

    Alternatively you can save the emails extracted from a corrupted MBOX file in EML format. To do so select "Save messages as a set of EML files" and then click "Next".

    export Thunderbird to EML

    Next, follow instructions as written here.