Moving to Mac – Thunderbird, Outlook, Entourage

Every week I get a dozen or so people arriving at this blog looking for how to transfer from Outlook to Entourage. I did that about 18 months ago (was it only then?) and wrote it up here. Apart from the occasional comments left by people to say thank you, it’s hard to know whether those who try it get a good result. Anyway, I thought I’d check the instructions I left to see if they’re still valid – and there were some changes necessary, so here they are.

I tried Thunderbird on the Mac as well as Apple’s own mail application but settled on Entourage for lots of reasons. Initially I was very frustrated by Entourage’s stability but several updates and service packs have made it rock solid and I haven’t had any problems in ages.

How to import or transfer from Outlook (on a PC) to Entourage (on a Mac) via Thunderbird (on a PC)

1. Install thunderbird on your PC.

2. When you start Thunderbird it will helpfully bring up an import menu with only one option which is “don’t import anything.” Don’t worry about this and let it carry on.

3. Configure your email box if you must, but set it so that it doesn’t fetch new mail. This will stop mail building up in Thunderbird after you’ve exported it (otherwise you could end up doing several exports)

3. On the file menu, you’ll find that you can import from outlook. This function fetches everything – all the subfolders and so on – but it takes a while. I have about 3gb of email and it must have taken a good hour or so.

4. Now you’ll have all of your email in Thunderbird. Well done.

5. Visit this site (the entourage help page on, follow the instructions, and download the script (or you can run it in your script editor)

6. You’ll end up with a series of folders that are in the right format and with the right attributes to import into entourage

7. Copy those folders to your Mac.

8. Select each file that you want to import to Entourage and make sure you have done the rename – they’ll need to be “.mbx” not “.mbox” (sometimes they have no extensions, so just add the .mbx)

9. Go to the Entourage file menu and select “import”. Pick “contacts or messages from a text file” and then “import messages from an MBOX-format text file” (note that whilst this says MBOX it means .mbx)

10. Choose the file – this time you have to do it one by one.

11. Entourage will go quiet for a while. You won’t be able to press anything but there will be no spinning beachball. You just have to wait.

12. Eventually – depending on how big your files are – it will say “finish”. Click that and you’ll have to wait again, but you will get a beachball this time. This seems to be a shorter wait, but a wait nonetheless.

13. The folder you have just imported will appear on the left hand side of the screen under the “on my computer” menu. You can then decide what to do with it. I copied all of the inbox file straight into the inbox, one for one, but moved the sub-folders under it. This actually copies all of the folders rather than moves them so, once you’re done, you have to delete the old ones.

If this works for you, leave a comment … Better still, if it doesn’t, definitely leave a comment so that I can have another look and see what further changes I need to make to these steps.

8 thoughts on “Moving to Mac – Thunderbird, Outlook, Entourage

  1. Interesting.  Whereas Outlook on my PC is absolutely rock solid, Entourage on my Mac is everything but.  I have the latest updates and it crashes at least once a day when I do weird and wacky things like read an email, and send an email.  It does offer to send the details to Microsoft every time it does crash so I send them in the forlorn hope it might help.   🙁

  2. that's weird.  mine is rocksolid.  can't remember the last crash.  have you tried a reinstall? or a database check – there's a widget that does that in the microsoft folder on your mac.

  3. Hi!I'm a novice MAC user but loving the switchover from Windows. I just noticed and started playing arounf w/Entourage and want to know what's the difference between it and iMail? Also, can I possibly setup a calendar via Entourage (I love the color palette) and then export it to my website via iWeb? If so, please tell me how and if I can make constant updates to the calendar and re-publish every time. Thanks so very much. Sorry for being confusing if I am.

  4. Sonya … that's all possible, but none of the ways that I know how to do it are very simple.  if you're updating your calendar regularly, i don't think using iweb to get it to the web is going to work very well (although maybe there's something in iweb that takes ical directly).  a few things you can look at – you can sync ical and entourage calendar and you can publish your ical to a web page; you can use a 3rd party tool (my favourite is tungle) to manage your calendar and provide a link to it (and i think tungle lets you do embedded calendars in your site too).  if none of that makes any sense to you, post here again and i'll figure out a step by step for you.  Alan

  5. Thanks a ton Alan! I think I'll try tungle first and get back w/u.Sonya Coggins\”An Alpha Kappa Alpha woman always does more than what is required.\”

  6. Big thanks! This works, but step 7 needs to be done before step 5. Step 5 is a little complicated, but shows you the power of the mac!Simon

  7. Hi Alan,Thanks for your message. I just tried it out, it imported the emails, but quite a few emails are just showing the entire html code, not sure why this is happening. Anyone faced this problem? I imported from Outlook 2003 to Entourage 2008.Cheers,Avi

  8. Hi Avi … I haven't seen that problem. I've had a look at the preferences and I couldn't see an obvious setting that would change that either. sorry not to be able to help. alan

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