hello thunderbird, goodbye eudora

I made the switch from Eudora 6.1.2 to Thunderbird 0.7.1 today.

I’ve been somewhat loathe to ditch Eudora, since I’ve been using it for 10 years now, and was happily using it until version 5.2. But at that point, Eudora didn’t have spam filtering, which was a real problem because the level of spam I was getting was steadily rising.

So when Eudora released version 6.0 with SpamWatch, I was excited that I’d finally have a solution to my problems. Unforutunately this wasn’t the case. 6.0 was essentially a beta quality release, with buggy spam filtering. 6.1.x was even worse, with Eudora now popping up the new mail alert when you receive mail that it already detected as junk. I was unhappy, but I lived with it.

Last night, I wanted to switch SMTP servers to mail.messagingengine.com, which is provided by fastmail.fm. Try as I might, I couldn’t get Eudora to authenticate with the server, no matter which boxes I checked, and how hard I coaxed it. I’d had enough. So I began the process of coverting to Thunderbird.

Before I started, I decided to clean out my mailboxes. So I spent about 5 hours deleting sifting though ~30000 messages that had accumulated since 2000 and deleting the ones I didn’t want.

Once I got my mailboxes down to a reasonable size, I began the process of importing my data into Thunderbird. This is where I hit my first snag. Thunderbird would not import my Eudora mailboxes correctly, and would crash halfway (I have yet to figure out why). So instead, I used Mozilla 1.7 to import my Eudora data, and I copied that into my Thunderbird profile (surprisingly, this worked). However, I was not very impressed with that conversion process either. MailNews seems to have a real problem parsing HTML mail from Eudora and turning it into something meaningful. A lot of my HTML messages are now tag soup, with interspersed text. Luckily, I don’t have too many of them, so its a side-effect I can live with. MailNews is also lousy at importing attachement names, which it has not figured out how to do.

The addressbook import was better, but still required a lot of cleanup after it was done.

Once I got to the point where I had imported my data from Eudora (which was quite painful, and not something a regular end user would have managed), things started to look up. My initial impressions of Thunderbird are very good. It’s filters are much more powerful than Eudora’s, and the UI is much cleaner.

Having said all this, the junk mail filter is still not working very well. It’s missing a lot of junk mail. I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is because I haven’t fully trained it yet.

All in all, I think I’m going to stick with Thunderbird for the time being. I really like it, and once your data is in it, it’s pretty sweet to work with. However, the MailNews/Thunderbird team really need to get their act together on importing data from other mail clients. That area does not work well at all, and might be a major blocker for those wishing to convert. Certainly, if I hadn’t been able to move my Eudora data into Thunderbird, I would not have converted. What I did manage to convert is far from perfect, but is what I’d call “usable”.

I’m expecting that with time, I’ll get used to the nuances of Thunderbird, and I’ll work a lot faster in it than I did before in Eudora. Thunderbird is excellent for novice and advanced users alike, but for people who need to import their old data into it (particularly from Eudora), there are some hurdles to jump before you get there.

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7 Responses to hello thunderbird, goodbye eudora

  1. Tomm Eriksen says:

    Not long till this is improved though:

    From the Thunderbird 1.0 Roadmap:

    Thunderbird 0.8 (ships in july)

    – Mozilla Suite Profile Migration – Support for migrating profiles from the Mozilla 1.x Application Suite.”

    I even saw a test build available with the profile migration in the thunderbird forum at mozillazine….

  2. localhost says:

    I know the feeling of making this switch. I’m making a second attemt to do the same (for one of two pc’s).
    Importing is broken for a long time now. There are some bugs on this: http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=3157

    But personally the switch can’t be made until the redirect feature (http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=12916) gets in and the filtering gets a lot closer to the power Eudora provides.

  3. Ali Ebrahim says:

    With respect to migration, it’s migration from other programs, not the Mozilla suite that I’m worried about.

    And yeah, bug 3157 is pretty nasty. I wish there was some way to get it fixed for Thunderbird 1.0.

  4. Tim Meader says:

    Agreed that Eudora’s filters are MUCH more powerful than Thunderbirds. That’s why I won’t switch yet. Why Eudora is the only client (that I know of) that allows you to use regex’s for filters is incomprehensible. I don’t want to have to create 5 filters in THunderbird for the same thing I can do in 1 in Eudora. Ugh.

  5. Rui Pacheco says:


    Just trying to help: did you try to import your mail from Eudora to TBird using an IMAP account? Basically drag your messages from Eudora to IMAP, close Eudora, open TBird and drag messages back from IMAP.

    It worked with me, the only thing that annoyed me was the x-html stuff that Eudora inserted in the messages. But there are scripts to handle that out there.

  6. Ali Ebrahim says:

    Actually I managed to convert the files using Mozilla 1.7’s importer. If I had uploaded to IMAP and then downloadeded again, it would have taken forever. My mailboxes were huge. 🙂

  7. Jeff Walden says:

    …hence you install an IMAP server like MailTraq and set it up to work locally using or localhost. It’s a free 30-day trial, and after I got all my email (about 100MB total, which would have been a pain to do even over broadband with a free IMAP account online) moved over it was a piece of cake to open it in Thunderbird. I haven’t discovered any missing or corrupted information in the transfer.

    As for the addressbook, I can’t help you there. I’ve only recently started using an address book, so that wasn’t a problem for me.

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