Moving the Email

In planning for my trip I needed to figure out how to get my email from my Mac to my wife’s Windows Vista laptop. I converted my email to Thunderbird around the new year due to Apple mail issues I could not figure out. So This is what I found.

Portableapps.com makes a portable windows version of Thunderbird that you can install on a flash drive. It turns out that Thunderbird uses the same data files for all platforms even for the email configuration. So all I had to do was copy the Thunderbird folder from my Mac OS user library folder to the flash drive. Go to my windows laptop. Install the portable Thunderbird from here


Then mock up one email account with a local folder. Then replace:


with the copy from my Mac OS Thunderbird profile. I opened portable Thunderbird in windows and all my mail was there. I’d have to test more to see if attachments are there too. I’m guessing they would be or maybe another file needs to be replaced. I’d also make the leap that you can move email from windows to Mac OS in a similar manor.

Test and test and test before working with real data. Create a new user on each computer to work with a copy of any data, NOT the live account.

Securing Your Email On Your Flash Drive

Now run back to the beginning. Email is sensitive and portable devised can get lost. Create an encrypted portable disk image on the flash drive prior to installing portable Thunderbird. Pick one below. Select a cross platform tool.

  • VeraCrypt is open-source and code audited, improves on TrueCrypt, works on Mac and PC, and allows creation of encrypted containers
  • Ciphershed is another TrueCrypt fork, works with old TrueCrypt containers, is slow with updates, and works on Mac, PC, and Linux

Install and place data in encrypted portable disk image.

Now you can mount the disk image to run your email and should not have worry about loosing your flash drive if your email has sensitive data in it. Obviously you will want to backup your flash drive regularly.

AGAIN … YOU WILL WANT TO BACKUP YOUR FLASH DRIVE REGULARLY, honest your flash drive will die at some point. It’s only a matter of time.