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As I mentioned when talking about creating Smart mailboxes, very few of us need to have immediate access to ancient e-mail. One way people have of dealing with this accumulation is simply to delete it once they've finished reading their email, but that's not always a good idea. Particularly, when you're dealing with business correspondence and that e-mail provides a record of your work. That doesn't mean, however, that you have to let your inbox pile up tens of thousands of messages, doing so can not only make it more difficult to find the email you're interested in, but it can badly slow down your mail.
Instead, make an archive of your email, store it somewhere else and then delete the stuff you've archived. Let's walk through that now. Once again, we'll go back to Mail, I'll click on Show so that we can see the mailboxes, and here's a folder that contains my Apple mail. To archive this, I can simply go to the Mailbox menu and choose Export Mailbox, or I can Ctrl+Click or right-click on it and choose Export Mailbox.
When I do that, I'm prompted for a destination, I'm going to choose my desktop, and there's my Apple.mbox. This includes all the email plus its attachments in one archive. Inbox is a universal email storage standard that's used by most major email clients. The advantage of Inbox is that you can export email from one client and add it to another. Now, before I show you how to do that, let's get rid of this email. To do that, I'll right click on the Apple Mailbox, and I'll choose Delete Mailbox, I'll Confirm it, and that mail is now gone.
Now, let's import this inbox file into another email client. Just so happens that I have a copy of Mozilla Thunderbird, which is a free email client and the first thing I'm going to do is chose Tools, and then I'll click on Import. I'll select Mail, and then I click on Next. I'll leave Apple mail selected and then click on Next again. It tells me that nothing was imported and that's fine, all I'm doing is setting up some kind of email account. Now, what I want to do is import that inbox file, but Thunderbird doesn't do it natively.
So how do we make it work? I'll show you. Go to Tools, click on Add-ons, and we're going to search for an add-on that will import inbox files. So in the Search field, I enter mbox. Press Return, and I find the ImportExportTools plugin. I'll click to install that. It downloads, and now I have to restart Thunderbird in order for this to work. So I'll restart now. Close out the Add-on manager. Go back to Tools, and now I see that I have an ImportExportTools menu. And you see here that there's an import inbox file command, but it's grayed out. So how do I make that work? Well, I just go to my Apple Mail Import folder, now I go to Tools, now I choose ImportExportTools, and you see that there's now the Import mbox file command.
I choose that and I'm going to leave this option Import directly one or more mbox files and click on OK. I'm asked to navigate to it. Go to the desktop. I select the Apple.mbox file, select mbox, and then click Open. Now, a little triangle appears next to my Apple Mail Import. I select it, here's mbox and here are all my Apple emails. All I have to do to read one is simply, click on it, and I'll quit Thunderbird. This not only shows you that the mbox format really does work across applications but it also hints that you can use one email client for retrieving and reading your mail, Apple's mail in this case. You can also use a different program, Thunderbird in this example, to browse all the email archives.
This helps you from cluttering up, possibly slowing down a single email client by repopulating it with old email. Now, speaking of repopulating, you're probably wondering how to import an mbox file into mail. Well, that's really simple. Go to file, choose Import Mailboxes, select Files in mbox format, click on Continue, navigate to your mbox folder, click Choose and it's done. And it tells you that it's now in a folder called Import, which appears under the ON MY MAC heading.
And sure enough, here it is, here are the mbox messages and here are my messages from Apple. And that's the word on exporting and importing email archives.
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