Converting Data from MS-Outlook (or OE) to Linux Mail

Approaches outlined below:

From rick Sat Nov 10 08:42:17 2001
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 08:42:17 -0800
Subject: Re: Reading M$ outlook files

Mike MacCana wrote:

> Lookout by Eric S Raymond will do exactly what you want.

Co-written by ESR and Rob Landley (as a Python script). It converts MS-Outlook 97 address book data to work in either GNOME's GnomeCard contact manager or KDE's abbrowser address book.

Eric has it at:

...and I have it mirrored at:
(Directory catalogue is in 00index.txt .)

From rick Sat Nov 10 09:07:12 2001
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 09:07:12 -0800
Subject: Re: Reading M$ outlook files

begin Dean Maughan quotation:

> I am currently making the leap into a permanent Linux world. I would
> like to be able to read my old Outlook files so I can move all my old
> mail over to my Linux system... Does anyone know how I could read
> Outlook PST mail files using Linux software. Or at least know where I
> could get some information on it...

I mentioned ESR and Rob Landley's "Lookout" script ( in a separate message, but it solves a different problem from the one you mention (liberating the contents of MS-Outlook's proprietary address books). Getting to the contents of that product's proprietary mailbox files (.PST files) is another matter. I'll try to tackle that, here:

I see from researching this matter on the Net that one way to solve the latter problem is to use Netscape Messenger's "import' utility, while still on the MS-Windows or MacOS platform where you used to use MS-Outlook. This results in a highly standard Unix-style mbox file, which you can then do practically anything with.

Theoretically, it's also possible to do SQL queries via the provided ODBC interface against MS-Outlook (at least for MS-Outlook 2000) to extract the .PST contents programmatically. I'm mentioning this just in case any ambitious coder is following this thread, and has time on his hands to write a piece of migration software.

I belive MS-Outlook also has a built-in utility to copy local .PST contents to a remote IMAP server. Again, this could be an indirect way of getting the message store into a standard format that you can get to more easily.

Another method: Use MS-Outlook Express (OE5/OE4) to convert your MS-Outlook .PST contents to its slightly different message store format. Then, use KMailCvt ( or KMailCvt2 ( to convert it again to mbox.

Thus far, Kmailcvt is known to handle MS Outlook Express 4 and 5 folders (.DBX) and MS Exchange Personal Address Books (.PAB).

If your Danish is better than mine [but see attempt at translation, below], you may also be able to glean other methods from

Since the page no longer exists, and the Google cache page will eventually expire, here's the contents, for whatever they're worth:


6.5.5. Konvertering fra Outlook til Linux-epost

En metode til at give Linux-brugeren adgang til epost som ligger i Outlook koblet til en Exchange server er følgende. Det kræver dog en exchange-server med imap-understøttelse.

* (I Windows) kopier indholdet af Outlook folder (.pst filen) over på exchange-serveren.
* Opret en ny imap mail-server i Netscape og konfigurer den til at bruge din exchange server. Check: indholdet af Outlook folderen burde nu vaere tilgangelig fra Netscape messenger.
* Kopier foldere fra exchange serveren til local mail.

En anden måde er at benytte KDEs program kmailcvt, som kan oversætte dine gamle Outlook 4 og 5 postbokse til Unix-postfiler. Efter sigende skulle dette være uden problemer, dog kan adressebøger stadig give problemer. Outlook express til mbox konvertering

En tredie metode, er at konvertér din *.pst fil til *.mbx (eller *.dbx) format, som Outlook Express bruger. Derefter brug oe2mbx til at konvertere til mbox-format, der kan læses af de fleste post-programmer på Linux-boksen. Du skal hente Linux versionen af oe2mbx på adressen: Den officielle side ( er umiddelbart lukket, men prøv at søg på

Det skal lige siges, at under konvertering fra MS Exchange til MS Outlook Express mister man alle "mail headers". Dvs. information om hvordan e-posten kom til din maskine går tabt. Dette kan være et Exchange bug, eller at der er overset en konfigurationsmulighed.

Før vi går i gang, så afsæt tiden til dette projekt - det tager mange timer at komme igennem. Det kan også anbefales at have ca. 3 gange så meget ledig diskplads som den post-mængde man har i Outlook Express.

Fra Exchange til Outlook express.

Konvertering fra Exchange kræver at du går via MS Outlook Express. Hvis du ikke bruger Exchange kan du hoppe dette skridt over. Du kan importere din post direkte fra Exchange til Outlook express via en Wizzard. Start Outlook Express, vælg [File] -> [Import] -> [Microsoft Exchange]. Derefter vælger du Profil og siger Næste - venter - OK.

Hvis du har lavet en .pst fil i Exchange til offline læsning kan du skabe en ny profil når du kommer til det punkt. Du skal så vælge manuel opsætning og tilføj *.pst fil. (Dette kan gøres uden kontakt til Exchange serveren). Resten er som beskrevet ovenfor.

Fra Outlook Express til Linux mbox

Windows: Læg oe2mbx.exe i roden (c:\) og kopier eller flyt alle *.dbx filer til mappen c:\mail Åben en MS-DOS prompt og skriv: c:\oe2mbx c:\mail*.dbx. Voila, du har nu en eller flere mbox filer, klar til at kopieres over på min Linux maskine.

Linux: Start med at kopiere alle .dbx filer til $HOME/mail/.

[anne@linus ~]$ tar -zxvf oe2mbx-1.21.tar.gz
[anne@linus ~]$ cd oe2mbx-1.21
[anne@linus ~/oe2mbx-1.21]$ make
[anne@linus ~/oe2mbx-1.21]$ ./bin/oe2mbx ~/mail/*.dbx

Fra mbox til maildir (qmail) Hvis du bruger qmail og maildir kan du til slut hente et program (perl script) som hedder mbox2maildir fra

Tak til: "Outlook -> Netscape" tråden på sslug-teknik den 21 dec. 2000.
Se: og


(The "oe2mbx" utility referred to in the Danish text, above, is also known as oe5_to_mbox. Hans Dijkema and Stephan Nedregard's KmailCvt/KmailCvt2 utilities are a further evolution of that code.)

Please note that I've not personally tried any of these methods, as I have no Microsoft installations to test them with. But I'd be very obliged if people could report back (perhaps off-list?) as to how well they work in the real world, as I'm hoping to FAQ this item.

I think the Danish text (based mostly on my paltry knowledge of Norwegian) translates like this:

6.5.5. Conversion from Outlook to Linux e-mail:

A method to give Linux users access to e-mail that resides in an Outlook/Exchange Server combination is given below. However, it requires that the Exchange server have IMAP service enabled:

Another way is to use KDE's programme kmailcvt, which can translate your old Outlook 4 and 5 mailboxes to Unix mboxes. Rumour has it that this method works, but that address books can still create problems. Outlook Express to mbox conversion

An additional option is to convert your [Outlook] .PST file to the .MBX (or .DBX) format that Outlook Express uses. After that, use oe2mbx to convert to mbox format, which most mail programs on Linux boxes can read. You have to fetch the Linux version of oe2mbx at the address: The official page ( is offline, but try searching on

It should be mentioned that during conversion from MS Exchange to MS Outlook Express, your mail will lose all its "mail headers". That is, information about how the e-mail journeyed to your machine will be lost. This may be an inherent Exchange bug, or there maybe be an overlooked Exchange configuration item.

Before commencing, be aware that you will need considerable lead time -- it takes a long time to convert. We recommend that you also have about three times as much available free space as the Outlook Express mailbox size.

[Converting] from Exchange to Outlook Express

Conversion from Exchange means you have to go via MS Outlook Express. If you do not use Exchange, you can skip this step. You can import directly from Exchange to Outlook Express via a Wizard. Start Outlook Express, select [File] -> [Import] -> [Microsoft Exchange]. After that, choose "work profile" and say Neighbour [?] - waits [?] - OK. If you have made a .PST file in Exchange for offline reading, you can create a new profile, when you come to that point. You have then to choose a manual arrangement [?], and add .PST file. (This can be configured to apply except when connected to the Exchange server.) The rest is as described above.

[Converting] from Outlook Express to Linux mbox

Windows: Put oe2mbx.exe in the root (C:\) and copy or move everybody's .DBX files to the "Briefcase" folder on C:. Open an MS-DOS prompt, and type "c:\oe2mbx c:\mail*.dbx". Voila, you now have one or more mbox files, ready to be copied over to your Linux machine.

[anne@linus ~]$ tar -zxvf oe2mbx-1.21.tar.gz
[anne@linus ~]$ cd oe2mbx-1.21
[anne@linus ~/oe2mbx-1.21]$ make
[anne@linus ~/oe2mbx-1.21]$ ./bin/oe2mbx ~/mail/*.dbx

[Converting] from mbox to maildir (qmail): If you you use qmail and maildir, you can use a utility called mbox2maildir from Thanks to: the "Outlook->=Netscape" thread on sslug-technology, 21 Dec 2000.

See: to

From: "Satelle, StevenX" (
Subject: RE: [ILUG] Convert MS Outlook pst to linux
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 06:22:36 -0800

Quoting John Molohan (

> I'm looking to convert my PST file to something usable with, in
> particular, Evolution. Came across this:
> [1] . Wondering if anyone has
> experience of this, or any other suggestions.

Try using this: [2]

It pulled everything from my Exchange folders, but didn't even see the PSTs. I assume this means that it will pull from the main mail store, but not secondary. But it's easier to use Mozilla on Win32 to import your mail.

[1] In 2003-03, the LibPST project, then part of Dave Smith's "ol2mbox" suite, was on hold, apparently because of unspecified legal threats. However, it was still being developed elsewhere: . (2005 note: Snapshot is gone from there, but findable at In 2004-11, it was renamed readpst, taken over by new developer Joe Nahmias, and moved to

The "ol2mbox" suite may also be found by the names of its various components: LibDBX (converts Outlook Express 5.0 DBX to mbox), K-DBX (KDE front-end to libDBX), LibPST (converts Outlook PST to mbox — now named readpst and maintained separately). See also:

[2] The Outport project also exports calendar information to vCalendar, iCalendar, etc. (The iCalendar format seems to be the lingua franca for calendar information, supported by Horde Kronolith, Mozilla Calendar, etc.)

From: Gavin McCullagh (
Subject: Re: [ILUG] email server
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 12:02:19 +0000

On Thu, 09 Jan 2003, AJ McKee wrote:

> Email client to use is Eudora, however even I don't use it these days
> as I do like the functionality Outlook gives me on my desktop.
> Norton ties in nicely with Outlook if you'd like to run outlook and
> give everybody a calendar (Nice with Eudora too!).

Having recently tried (with eventual success) to do something as basic as restore backed up mail folders from OE, I would not consider using it or it's non-Express counterpart (except perhaps through IMAP where it's only keeping copies of the mail directories).

My Dad used OE. We had a disk failure. I managed to get the "Application Data" directory off onto CD, bought a new disk and reinstalled. To my great horror, I discovered that OE will not import files from the same version.

By this I mean OEv5 can read OEv4 but not OEv5, OEv6 can read OEv4,5 but not OEv6 (this in my opinion is explainable only as a cynical attempt to force upgrades but that's another argument). No, copying the files into place didn't work either.

So I moved to Mozilla and went through major strain trying to import the folders (mozilla's not great at it either). Eventually libdbx [1]

converted the mail directories (very cleanly and nicely) to standard mail folders. He now happily uses Mozilla for win32 for his mail and www and his folders are readable by almost any mail client on earth should the need arise.


[1] In 2003-03, the LibPST project, then part of Dave Smith's "ol2mbox" suite, was on hold, apparently because of unspecified legal threats. However, it was still being developed elsewhere: . (2005 note: Snapshot is gone from there, but findable at In 2004-11, it was renamed readpst, taken over by new developer Joe Nahmias, and moved to

The "ol2mbox" suite may also be found by the names of its various components: LibDBX (converts Outlook Express 5.0 DBX to mbox), K-DBX (KDE front-end to libDBX), LibPST (converts Outlook PST to mbox — now named readpst and maintained separately). See also:

Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 14:00:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: Asheesh Laroia (
To: Lx Rudis (
Cc: SFLUG Mailing List (
Subject: Re: [sf-lug] Outlook pop3->IMAP migration?

On Tue, 24 Jul 2007, Lx Rudis wrote:

> Attached is e-mail from the guy I recently assisted.
> Anyone here had experience with this sort of work?
> Got any advice? Comments?

A technical but fast way to do this is the way I would do it: First of all export from Outlook to a regular UNIX mbox file. Then you can scp that to the server pretty quickly and import that on the server side all at once. You could use to read the Outlook PST files into mbox files.

The mail server either will expect mbox, in which case you're done, or Maildir, in which case I recommend mb2md from

Doing it this way avoids the pains of Outlook's IMAP support as well as minimizes round-trip delays while Outlook waits for acknowledgment of each individual message from the IMAP server.

-- Asheesh.