User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird
7 posts • Page 1 of 1
How can I import my Windows Mail contacts list (in Windows Vista)? I rely very heavily on Groups of contacts (email lists), so importing a plain text file is not a solution, since my existing groups could not be imported that way.
Alternatively, I still have my old Outlook Express Address Book saved in a WAB file. Is there a way to import it? Thunderbird's import method is too limiting. It obviously searches for a live copy of Outlook Express, but it can't find one on my Vista computer. Why don't you open up the Import function, so we can manually specify the location of the saved WAB file?
Will Thunderbird ever be able to handle Groups successfully? By that, I mean, will I be able to not only set up email Groups, but also import and export them, so I can synchronize two address books on two computers? I have tried this with Thunderbird a couple of years ago, and it didn't work. I am now willing to try it again, but it seems harder to even get started, if I am on a Windows Vista PC.
Re Vista: What export formats are available from Windows Mail? Thunderbird supports LDIF, CSV, etc.
Re Outlook: Thunderbird needs Outlook to be the current default mail program, because the only way into the Outlook PST file is through API calls. Thank Microsoft for the "limitation."
Re Groups: Importing "groups" into Thunderbird mail lists involves a few extra steps, but it can be done. Simply export a group to an address book. You can then import the address book and create a mail list from that. This FAQ page gives a good explanation on how to create a mail list in Thunderbird.
Synchronizing is another matter entirely. Check this knowledge base article.
John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13
Thanks for your response SKopischke.
Re. Vista: Windows Mail can export contacts into .CSV and vCard (.VCF) files. But, those are just basic text formats, which can handle individual contacts, but that will not handle Groups (aka Contact Lists).
Re. Outlook. I don't have Outlook (so no PST files, which I tried and hated). I have Outlook Express. Or, more precisely, I used to have Outlook Express, on my older machine, which has died and been replaced with this new Vista PC. I managed to import the old WAB (Windows Address Book) file into the new Windows Mail address book (which is the Vista default). But, now there seemes to be no easy way to transfer that to Thunderbird, mainly because I can't transfer my Groups.
Thunderbird can't import the plain WAB file (which I saved from my old Outlook Express), because whoever developed Thunderbird did not provide for a way to point at a specific file. Instead, Thunderbird tries to do it all automatically, in the background, and this automatic process simply doesn't work on Windows Vista, because there is no Outlook Express installed there.
Thunderbird can't import directly from Windows Mail Address Book (in Vista) because even after Vista has been on the market for a year and a half, there is no sign of any update coming from Mozilla.
Improting groups individually, one by one, is a VERY cumbersome process when you have 30 groups set up.
Synchronizing between two computers shouldn't be all that difficult to do. Outlook Express WAB file has had that capability fo many, many years. You simply export all your contacts into a WAB file on one computer, then transfer the WAB file to another computer, and then import the WAB file on that other computer. The import process automatically checks to see which record is the most recent (tjhe most up-to-date), and it copies that record over the older one. It also manages to synchronize all the Groups. It worked wonderfully under Windows XP.
But, now, Microsoft has removed that synchronization capability from Windows Mail, and there's not way to use Outlook Express under Windows Vista.
At the same time, Thunderbird is not providing any way to import things from Windows Mail (except the basic .CSV file, which doesn't do groups).
So, the more times goes by, instead of improving, we are losing features. Losing the ability to transfer Groups from one Address Book to another.
It seem ironic that, while everyone recommends the use of Groups, nobody provides an easy way to transfer and synchronize Address Books in such a way that the Groups are preserved. We are forced to re-create the Groups every time. Is that progress?
Re. Synchronizing: I checked the Knowledge base article, but it seems that the word synchronizing has multiple meanings. I am not interested in some complicated way of synchronizing or sharing an address book via some server. That may be suitable for large companies. Bt, I am just an individual who wants to make sure that I have a bakcup of my Address Book on both my laptop and my desktop, so I can switch between the two at a moment's notice. And this could be easily accomplished by simply exporting and importing the whole address book, the way Outlook Express does it.
Every time I suggest something like this, people start talking about some complex server-based process. That's not what I am talking about. I just need a simple way to copy my whole address book and move it to another computer, while preserving all my Groups, and not having to import/export every single group manually, one at a time. We should be able to do this Address Book synchronization quickly and easily every time there's a change in a few email addresses. Look how it's done so well in Outlook Express. It seems a pity that everyone (including Microsoft) is ignoring or abandoning the one system that worked really well.
I've been asking about this for years. I simply can't use Thunderbird until the issue of Groups gets resolved.
Now that Microsoft has abandoned Outlook Express, I am very disappointed that the new Windows Mail simply doesn't handle Groups as well as OE used to.
So, I am finally ready to start exploring a whole new way of handling Groups on my own, without the help of any email program. I am considering using a Data-base program to keep all my contacts i, and have a field (or a few fields) there to specify which Group or Groups that person belongs to. Then I can, hopefully, simply extract the needed Group, and send an email to all of them. That is, I would have the database select all the records, and then use the email program just for the sending. That way, I will not be at the mercy of those who write email software and keep dropping features and dumbing down the software (like Microsoft just did by dropping Outlook Express in favor of Windows Mail).
Besides groups, what else do you need?
Wrong. Thunderbird cannot import the plain WAB file because Microsoft coded OE in such a way that no other application can read from its data files without API calls. Consequently, any complaint about this needs to be directed at Microsoft. Thunderbird is giving you everything it can.
I had many more "groups" than that when I imported my address book to Thunderbird. I took them one at a time and was done in less than 30 minutes. YMMV
If you are talking about Thunderbird Address Books to Thunderbird Address Books, "mail lists" (they are not called "groups" in Thunderbird) are preserved when you move the Address Book around.
You are not talking about synchronizing. Synchronizing is the activity that takes changes in multiple copies and reconciles them. If you want to move your address book from one profile to another, copy the abook.mab file from one profile to the other. Done.
If you spend a few minutes migrating to Thunderbird, the issues you discuss will no longer be problems for you. Thunderbird has handled downstream changes very, very well over the years.
John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13
You need to realize that this version of Thunderbird, version 2.0.x, was finalized before Vista was released and before Microsoft released any of the needed information to other developers. Maybe Mail will be an option in version 3 which will hopefully be out at the end of the year.
Well... I tried to use Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0 on Vista but it simply sucks and lacks of support for Vista-specific features. It's simply no use on Vista.
Thanks, SK for your detailed reply. Thanks for acknowledging that it takes maybe up to 30 minutes to transfer all the "mail lists" manually, one by one. And what about updating it later, to keep the computers in sync?
I am not sure what the correct terminology is, but in a way -- I AM talking about synchronizing the Address Books on two computers (Thunderbird to Thunderbird). Moving the whole address book will work in a pinch. Thanks for the idea. But that means that I can only update the Address Book on one computer at a time, and always keep track of which computer has the latest updates. But, if I update some records at work, and some at home, I really need to be able to "merge" (or synchronize) the two together. Right now, there is no way to synchronize two Thunderbird Address Books in such a way that will preserve mailing lists.
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