GLossary Pages

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Outlook Express DBX files

Thunderbird can only import mail from Outlook Express if the two programs are on the same computer.  This creates something of a catch 22 for those that have backed up their DBX files from Outlook Express, and no longer have access to the program.

In the past few days, I was lurking on a Microsfot Support Forum, and mention of theUnDBX utility came up.  Now the internet is full of paid utilities that will read DBX files and convert them, but really who wants to pay for a program that they will probably use only the once. This one is free, and released under the GNU GLP V3 open source license.

How does this help in getting DBX mails into Thunderbird,  it converts them to the industry standard EML file format.  The addon Import/Export Tools can import EML files into Thunderbird.

So the round trip is use the UnDBX tool to convert your mail into EML and then Use the Import Export tools to import it into Thunderbird.

I think I have finally figured out how to do the WAB to Thunderbird part of the process.  A small largely undocumented program called Dawn. I have linked to the download site that does contain some instructions for use,  in my own case I had to unzip the package and double click on the MSI file.  The setup program did not appear to do anything.  I would love to hear from anyone how Dawn went for them. Other than the quirk on the setup it worked flawlessly for me.

Addendum 17 March 2013
Philip Sargent has advised me that under Windows 7 Dawn needs to run in XP compatibility mode.

Addendum 30 January 2016
I think these days using the windows contact to import the WAB file and then instructing Thunderbird to use that is a better way to go with address books. See my Devember 2013 post on the Windows address book here 


  1. Matt,

    Thanks for the help. Worked perfectly (when directions are followed) and I've successfully imported the messages. Much appreciated. Thom

  2. outlook express dbx viewer can repair dbx files from any version of Outlook Express. The program doesn't modify source data during recovering. It can show restored dbx and starts under all available MS Windows.

  3. I understand that corrupt DBX files are a problem for many, but really how does repairing the corruptions get the data into Thunderbird, which is the point of this posting.

  4. How does repairing corrupt dbx's help? Seems simple:
    1. Repair corrupt dbx file.
    2. Run Undbx on the file.
    3. Import the resulting .eml files into thunderbird.
    4. Done.

  5. "Undbx" is absolutely OK.

    But "Dawn" doesn't work here.
    I didn't get any utilizable results.
    Neither the Outlook Express address book (*.wab) does appear nor the wizard worked.
    I tried exporting the WAB to various other formats as ldif, csv, txt. No results.

    Bernd S.

  6. It's perfect! Good job!

  7. I downloaded SysToolsDBXConverter and it converted my DBX into EML immediately but still my Thunderbird Earlybird didn't import the EML converted folders and messages. I'll try with DBX viewer and comment. Thank you.

  8. Thank you so much I was able to recover my emails from DBX format into thunderbird.

  9. The latest version of Thunderbird can now import mail from Outlook Express. I just did it with v 17.0.3. You have to copy the entire Outlook Express directory including Folders.dbx. I tried just one file but it didn't work. It did work when I included everything.

  10. My situation, XP machine has crashed hard. I have the dbx files from the machine and also have an oefreebiebackup copy of the whole Outlook Express setup that was on the XP box. I now have thunderbird running on my W8 machine and it is able to POP access my email at I might be able to get the xp box up far enough to install Thunderbird locally. In local mode it might be able to move all my OE over correctly right? Now, how do I get these now thunderbirded files off the XP and move them to the W8 version on my new computer. Alternately, can I convert these dbx files to something readable and just store them on my new W8 box? I, like many, used OE for much more than it was intended, floders contain a lot of info that should hve beed saved in a better manner.

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  12. My situation, XP machine has crashed hard. I saved all the DBX folders from OE on that machine. I have thunderbird installed on my W7 machine and it is able to POP access my email.. Thanks to UnDBX I converted the DBX folders into the EML format. But I still could not import them into TB. To do so I also got the add-on “importexporttools 2.8.02-tb.xpi and installed it. With this add-on I should be able to import the EML files. The problem is, that I could not find out, where these EML files are stored in my W7. With the W7 search function I found out, that there are 1397 EML files . The other problem is, that in the TB Tools / importexport menu, there is no word about importing EML files., only “import messages” and “Save all mail files”. What should I select to import the EML files ?

    1. Your joking right? EML files are Email message files. File Save as in Outlook Express saves the file as EML.

  13. This worked great. It was exactly may situation - had dbx files from OE and needed to import them into a new email program on a new Windows 8 system. Debated whether to buy Outlook because "of course" importing from OE to Outlook must be easier than from OE to Thunderbird.

    But looking on the internet I did not see any successful attempts to import from OE to outlook on Windows 8.

    The above instructions for importing from OE to Thunderbird worked without a hitch.

    Yay for Mozilla!

    1. My situation was similar: how to import dbx files from OE into a new email program on a new Windows 7 system. I decided to use Thunderbird und with the help of “undbx” it was no problem at all to import them into Thunderbird. There they are stored in “Local folders”. With the Tools/move to.. function it is easy to move files from the inbox into these Local folders.

      Also Hay for Mozilla !

  14. Way before I was searching a solution to migrate Outlook Express to Outlook but, then I get to know that Thunderbird is no longer providing the option to import from Outlook Express. Then, someone recommended me to use Outlook Express DBX Converter. Believe me, this tool works amazingly as it converted all my Outlook Express DBX files into Thunderbird supported MBOX format. Every user out there who is searching a solution to import Outlook Express mails to Mozilla Thunderbird must give it a try!
    You can get the software here: