How to quickly migrate mail from Evolution to Thunderbird with Dovecot

Fedora 22 is just around the corner and while upgrading my machine, I decided to completely ditch Gnome’s Evolution in favor of Mozilla Thunderbird. I had already switched a while back, but still had tons of mail in an old local Evolution account I wanted to migrate.

Unfortunately all HowTos I found on the web assume Evolution would store mail in the mbox format, while it switched to maildir in version 3.2.0. MozillaZine suggests to first convert maildir to mbox and then import the resulting files with the ImportExportTools extension. Why so cumbersome if there is the excellent Dovecot IMAP server that can read both maildir and mbox?

Migrating mail with Dovecot is straight forward. Quit Evolution and install dovecot:

yum install dovecot

Then set it to use Evolution’s local storage as mail location:

echo "mail_location = maildir:~/.local/share/evolution/mail/local/" \
 >> /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-mail.conf
service dovecot start

Fire up Thunderbird, configure a new account for your user on localhost and copy over all mail from this account to the “Local folders”. There you go!