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Does a Thunderbird IMAP account work on more than one PC and sync on both

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  • Last reply by david

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Hi, I hope someone can help me.

I'm using Thunderbird Version 102.4.1 on a 7 year old laptop and it's getting to the end of life with numerous driver and non responding problems. Also, it is not compatible with Windows 11. I have linked 3 Yahoo mail and 4 Gmail accounts to Thunderbird on it and they work really well. All are IMAP server settings. I have just bought a new laptop, an early Black Friday deal, and hope to set it up the same as my existing one, so when the old one dies, as it's likely to, I will still have access to the same programmes and emails.

I know I can access Gmail emails direct on any device and they are always up to date - is that called synced? What I don't know is if all email accounts will be synced or the latest - if I use Thunderbird on both laptops. If I delete an email on one device will it be deleted on the other device.

If this is possible, do I download Thunderbird on the new laptop, then set up the accounts for each email and just enjoy from there, OR do I have to copy the profile from the old device to the new one.

I love browsing, streaming etc. but hate trying to get my PC set up or sorting out problems with it. Presume I know very little if you are replying. I have never had two working laptops before so never had to worry about syncing.

Hi, I hope someone can help me. I'm using Thunderbird Version 102.4.1 on a 7 year old laptop and it's getting to the end of life with numerous driver and non responding problems. Also, it is not compatible with Windows 11. I have linked 3 Yahoo mail and 4 Gmail accounts to Thunderbird on it and they work really well. All are IMAP server settings. I have just bought a new laptop, an early Black Friday deal, and hope to set it up the same as my existing one, so when the old one dies, as it's likely to, I will still have access to the same programmes and emails. I know I can access Gmail emails direct on any device and they are always up to date - is that called synced? What I don't know is if all email accounts will be synced or the latest - if I use Thunderbird on both laptops. If I delete an email on one device will it be deleted on the other device. If this is possible, do I download Thunderbird on the new laptop, then set up the accounts for each email and just enjoy from there, OR do I have to copy the profile from the old device to the new one. I love browsing, streaming etc. but hate trying to get my PC set up or sorting out problems with it. Presume I know very little if you are replying. I have never had two working laptops before so never had to worry about syncing.

Chosen solution

If all accounts are IMAP, your simplest approach is to use Tools>export, which creates a full profile from the old PC. Then, on new PC, install thunderbird and click the import button or tools>import. This will bring in the complete profile, including addressbook. Since IMAP keeps messages on server, if you delete from on PC, the message will be deleted on server, making it inaccessible to the other PC.

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Chosen Solution

If all accounts are IMAP, your simplest approach is to use Tools>export, which creates a full profile from the old PC. Then, on new PC, install thunderbird and click the import button or tools>import. This will bring in the complete profile, including addressbook. Since IMAP keeps messages on server, if you delete from on PC, the message will be deleted on server, making it inaccessible to the other PC.

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David, that's great news.

As soon as I set up my new PC I will try this. The profile on Thunderbird is so easy to find and save now - unlike in Chrome and Firefox. I always struggle with profiles but I save the Thunderbird one the other day using Tools and Export and it was easy compared to Firefox or Chrome.


You answered my question so I will mark it as a solution. If I have any problems when I try your solution I will post again.

Modified by PhilG

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@david @davidsk

I forgot to ask about Firefox settings and bookmarks. I have Syncing turned ON, on my old laptop. Will all settings and bookmarks transfer to the new laptop if I use the same account on both PCs and turn on Syncing on both.

Will Chrome work the same or is that too much to hope for. I hope I don't have to try and find and replace profiles not all are as easy to find as in Thunderbird.

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That should not be a problem. I have moved Firefox several times.

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David. @davidsk

I have just started setting up my new laptop(PC) and have reached the first dilemma. I have connected to the wireless router and entered my Microsoft account details. Now I have to select either: - restore from Acer or - set up as new device.

I want the Thunderbird emails, saved passwords etc. & settings and the Firefox bookmarks and settings/saved passwords (the same for Chrome and Edge). I don't want to select the option that makes things more difficult later. Which one should I select?

I will copy or transfer the photos and some documents and music but want to keep this PC as clutter free as possible. I have only used less than half a GB of 5GB in One Drive and have quite a bit of space remaining on a couple of USB drives. I'm all set to proceed as soon as you are free and willing to help show me the way.

Modified by PhilG

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You flatter me. I cannot advise on restoring from Acer, as my experience in global restorations can be problem-prone. To set up the computer, I defer to you. However, for Thunderbird, I recommend exporting the full profile on old PC as a separate task. if you are using latest version on old PC, I would create one backup with Thunderbird using Tools>Export. And, when TB is NOT running, I would also copy c:\users|<yourid>\appdata\roaming\thunderbird to a USBstick. Then, after new PC is stable, install Thunderbird, but do not run. Copy the backup you created at c:\users.... to the new PC at same place (although user id may be different). You will be prompted that you are overwriting files, but that is to be expected. Then, start TB and it should immediately recognize all your accounts and files. The zip file created with tools>export is just a backup to use if problems surface, but I suspect none.

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Thanks for coming back to me. I suppose will have to ask Microsoft about this as it's part of setting up the OS.

As to Thunderbird, I thought I could just use Tools and Export. I'm disappointed that I have to mess about again with AppData as it never goes well for me. I gave my new PC a different user ID so I wouldn't confuse data from each PC. I think I will push on and select 'set up as new device' and see where it leads or I may post on Msoft or Acer to see what they say. I'm keep to see the new Windows 11.

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david (davidsk) I don't do flattery but someone who answers questions on Mozilla must be knowledgeable.


I have now set up my new PC and Edge is working as well as it did on the old PC. Chrome was installed because it's on a similar platform to Edge and I have synced with mixed results. Firefox is also installed even though I didn't want to install it yet. I haven't opened Firefox. I want to get Thunderbird installed and synced next and that's why I'm posting again.

I have copied the Thunderbird profile from the old PC Tools>Export to a USB stick Also copied the TB profile from the old PC c:\users|<myoldid>\appdata\roaming\thunderbird to a USB stick.

My problem is the route to the profile on the new PC is confusing (to me) that's where I need your help. I'm still getting used to Windows 11 so that doesn't help. Will you please map out the route for the Thunderbird profile in Windows 11.

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The layout for Windows 11 is the same as for Windows 10. c:\users|<yourid>\appdata\roaming\thunderbird. The userid is likely be different. Be sure to install Thunderbird first before copying, and copy only when Thunderbird is not running. When you copy, you will be prompted for overwriting existing files.

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david (davidsk)

I have decided to leave the Thunderbird set up 'til last as my emails are plentiful and I don't wish to lose any. I want the IMAP settings and passwords to transfer correctly.

Firefox, Chrome and Edge are not looking right on the new PC but I only used sync so far. The bookmarks are jumbled. I will copy the profiles across before I copy Firefox and hope that will sort it.

In looking for the Firefox profile I found this (see snip). Do I copy the default profile with arrow?

Modified by PhilG

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Yes, that is the profile itself. This is different from info on earlier comments in this thread. The place your screenshot is the profile, and if copied, it should be placed in new PC at c:\users\<yourID>\appdata\roaming\thunderbird\profiles Then, when you start Thunderbird, you would need to go to help>moretroubleshootinginformation to select and activate it. That's more steps than what I proposed earlier. The file that tells Thunderbird where the profile is is at c:\users\<yourid>\roaming\thunderbird\profile.ini. That is why I usually recommend copying c:\users\yourid\appdata\roaming\thunderbird as that includes both the folder and the file that identifies it as the default profile. By copying at that level and storing on new pc after installing thunderbird causes thunderbird to open and immediately recognize your profile.

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I don't understand. I thought I did just that but haven't done the 'more troubleshooting' bit

This is what I have done so far I found the old Firefox profile and copied it to the profile folder but there are several others there see snip of File Explorer. I have marked the one from my old PC and you can see the profile name of the new pc in the Application basics page on the same snip.

How do I overwrite the old profile with the new one. When I tried that I just ended up with another profile. What happens if I delete all but the latest one. Will Firefox be forced to use the one and only remaining one. OR is there a way of getting Firefox to use the new profile and ignore the others.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I had written the above before reading your reply so now I understand about using moretroubleshootinginformation to select the relevant profile. I will try that with Firefox and see if it works. I thought I had to copy from profile to profile.

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david (davidsk)

I'm now in about:profile and see the current default profile

Profile: default-release This is the profile in use and it cannot be deleted. There is a rename option. and Profile: default with many options. Is this where I remove unwanted profiles and add the desired one. What is the process for adding in the wanted profile. When I remove a profile is it still in the profile folder to use at a later or deletion. Should I delete the unwanted profiles when I'm happy with the new default one.

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Yes, this screenshot shows two profiles, the default and another one. The 'cannot be deleted' message is only because, at this moment, it is the default. To make the other one the default, just press the select button. Profiles that are not used can be deleted. But that's done via Windows, not Thunderbird. Unused profiles are not a problem, but just use disc space.

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David @Davidski

Under profile default I removed the 2 profiles listed at the bottom of the snip. I tried remove as I thought I would then get the option to add or insert the profile I had copied from the USB stick. That didn't work so I decided to try it your way. I copied the Firefox file that contained the profile from my old PC to a USB stick and then copied it to the same Firefox file on the new PC and that seemed to work. There was a time where I thought it had gone wrong when I had to accept Chrome bookmarks etc. As Firefox was not a choice I accepted the Chrome option.

I now need to switch off Sync as I don't want the changes made to date to be overwritten. Please remind me of all the places that could sync. I have removed Bookmarks, Open Tabs, History. The open tabs did not sync properly. That leaves the below still synced.

You are currently synchronising these items: Logins and passwords Addresses Add-ons Settings

Now, its time for the flattery. Your way was the best and quickest way to change a profile. You are the expert and I'm an __________. It's confession time. In my stupidity, when I couldn't locate the path to the Thunderbird profile I since realised that was because I had never installed Thunderbird on the new PC.

Later:

I still don't know what I'm supposed to do to select another profile that is not shown, the one I copied from USB stick

Although your way was quicker. it turned out not to be fool proof. The wrong Profile was installed/picked up. How do I SELECT and install the right profile from the About Profiles page. This should be the most accurate way or have I got that wrong also.

Profile Folder (I presume this is the one in use) C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\840xe7m3.default-release

Default Profile no Root Directory C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\gatni7x0.default-1527532292500 Local Directory C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Local\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\gatni7x0.default-1527532292500

Profile: default (This is the profile I copied from old PC and the one I wanted to use) Default Profile no Root Directory C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\bdtnypeo.default-1633877891371 Local Directory C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Local\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\bdtnypeo.default-1633877891371

This is the profile in use and it cannot be deleted. Default Profile yes Root Directory C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\840xe7m3.default-release Local Directory C:\Users\xxpeexd\AppData\Local\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\840xe7m3.default-release

I would give up on this now if I didn't have Thunderbird to install and try to have the old emails, passwords and settings.

Modified by PhilG

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There should be an option on 'about:profiles' page to select the desired profile, as Thunderbird shows all profiles that are in the profiles folder.

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David

My long late night rambling reply to your post (11/28/22, 1:23 PM) is being moderated and hasn't appeared here - yet.

If it doesn't pass moderation will I be informed or what is the process.

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I don't know. I generally have at least one moderator review a day and I don't know if they all come through.

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David

My long late night rambling reply to your post (11/28/22, 1:23 PM) is being moderated and hasn't appeared here - yet. I think it has gone to the Bermuda triangle.

The gist of it is, I failed to select the desired profile in about:profiles as it didn't appear on the page so I didn't see how I could select it. In trying to find the desired profile I removed the non default profile but the profile is still visible in File Explorer. As you explained removing a profile in about:profiles does not delete it. So I couldn't install the desired profile

Then I tried your recommended method. The old PC profile in FF folder was copied to new PC profile in FF folder but is not now the default profile. There is a different default profile now visible in about:profiles. The desired profile is not on about:profile page so how can I select it as my profile??? There are several profiles visible in the profiles folder in File Explorer, including the old default one, the new default one and the desired one I copied from my old PC.

I'm beginning to think I would be better to stick with this profile and work on customising it. That may be better for my sanity as profiles are my béte noire.

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In about profiles, there is a button 'create profile.' Click that and then click 'next' and on next page enter a name for the profile, e.g., PROFILE, and then after doing that, click then click the 'choose' button to locate and activate your profile.

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