How to Restore Thunderbird Emails and Profiles From a Manual Backup

We’ve already shown you how to backup a Thunderbird Email Profile. This time we’ll show you how to restore that backup.

Previously we showed you how to manually backup Mozilla Thunderbird Emails and Profiles. This time, we’ll look at how to restore them. This is useful if you’ve had a recent computer crash or just want to move your data to another computer. Follow along, and I’ll demonstrate how to do this using a Windows-based computer.

Restore Thunderbird Messages from Manual Backup

What you’ll need to do this:

To get started, make sure that Thunderbird is not running. Next, in Windows Explorer, right-click on your Thunderbird backup and extract it to your C:\Users\yourUsername\AppData\Roaming folder. This should put all of your backups right where Thunderbird wants them (assuming you followed our previous backup article).

recover email with thunderbird

Next, in the Start Menu, type the following:

thunderbird.exe –profilemanager

thunderbird profile manager

The Thunderbird user profile manager should pop up. Click Create Profile.

create a new thunderbird profile

Click Next.

click next, ignore jargon

Now you can enter a name for your profile or just leave it at the default. The profile name shouldn’t affect anything within Thunderbird itself. What is important here is the folder that you choose.

Click Choose Folder.

choose folder in profile creation wizard

Click your backup folder you just unzipped, and then click Select Folder.

choose your backup profile

Back on the main profile manager screen, double-click the profile you just created to launch Thunderbird.

double click to launch your profile

All of your backups should have taken effect, and your email will be waiting.

restored thunderbird email client, emails, and profile



  1. ND Peters

    I was delighted to see this post and followed the directions on backing up the account. It worked with a few bumps easily figured out. However, when I went to restore it on my new computer by extracting files into Thunderbird directory, problems occurred. When asked if I files should be replaced, I chose yes. Then I could not run the Profile manager. It would not open. So I uninstalled completely and reinstalled replacing no files. Profile manager still does not open. Sigh. I am running Thunderbird 14. Maybe I need an older version? Thanks

  2. Agfa

    Thanks, was missing the profile part, now all is restore.

  3. suren

    Thanks a lot. I was able to retrieve my old mails successfully using the instructions on your post.


  4. robert

    rather than restore backed up files, this method deleted two other accounts I also use on Thunderbird.

    Maybe you could warn users that this might occur if they follow the instructions above.

    Thanks for nothing.

  5. Jerry

    Thanks a lot!

  6. Marie

    I was trying to get my email to download correctly by uninstalling/reinstalling Thunderbird. Read instructions of what I thought I should do by Mozilla – delete profile – empty recycle bin. Now all my folders and emails associated with those folders are gone. Can they be recovered? Lots of critical info in them. I do not believe my system is backed up. Where would I find my Thunderbird emails/folders if it is?

  7. Bharath

    Thnx a ton for describing the process to restore files frm the backup folder in such simple steps, appreciate it much.
    Cheers :) :)

  8. Verlan Phillips

    Thanks for the info. It worked and now can see the mail on the hard drive that crashed. However when I did the last step and start Thunderbird only the mail on the default shows up, not the current mail with the files and folders on new computer. To get to the old mail folders and back to the new ones I have to go back and forth. In other words it does not merge the two. Hope you have a suggestion.

  9. Paul Tofts

    This works great! Thanks. Compared to other (older) suggestions on the web, the key here is to use (and understand) the Thunderbird Profile Manager (TPM). The initial difficulty I had is that the TPM calls the process ‘creating a profile’, whilst I was expecting to ‘import a profile’, not to create one.

  10. Jos

    Still works perfect! Thanks.

  11. Anthony

    Same for me…upon restarting TB, I noticed all of me emails were gone, except one…and yet, i got a message that one of my missing gmail account, needs to be updated. How can I update it, if its not shown? I’ve read other comments here similar to mine and did not notice and reply’s on why this happened and how to get those emails back.

  12. Dattatri HM

    Great! It helped indeed! Thank you so much for this post!

  13. Toni Brown

    Thank you for this. I had to reset Windows and desperately didn’t want to lose all my years of emails. You saved me! Very clear and easy to understand.

  14. Marco

    Typing “thunderbird.exe –profilemanager” into the start window in Windows 8.1 has absolutely no effect. Any alternative ways to open the profile manager?

  15. Marco

    Note: If the Profile Manager window does not appear, you may need to specify the full path of the Thunderbird program, enclosed in quotes; for example:
    On 32-bit Windows

    “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe” -p
    On 64-bit Windows

    “C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe” -p

  16. Tijs

    Excellent worked nicely for me on OSx!

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