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Moving email filter rules in Mozilla Thunderbird


comments13 comments. Current rating: 5 stars (9 votes). Leave comments and/ or rate it.

I had been working with Mozilla Thunderbird for a while and set up about 40 message filtering rules. I did not create them using menu item 'Create filter From Message' but added them one by one.

I had added these rules as rules for 'Local Folders'.

The downside is that such rules do not get applied automatically after polling POP3 email.

Rules that are created for an email account are applied automatically after polling. Downside for these is, if you have 3 POP3 email accounts then you need to keep 3 copies of the rules in sync.

Now I wanted to (elegantly) copy my 40 rules from 'Rules for Local Folders' to 'Rules for email account xyz'. How?

All rules for a section are stored in a nice text file called MsgFilterRules.dat.

Go into your settings folder - the following is done at the command line:

// German settings
C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\peter\Anwendungsdaten\Thunderbird\Profiles\viskw6k7.default\Mail>

// English version
C:\Documents and Setttings\peter\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\viskw6k7.default\Mail>

// list all MsgFilterRules.dat:
dir MsgFilterRules.dat /s

// copy one file over to the other folder


2005-11-04, 08:25:29
anonymous from Germany  
You can also edit those two rules files with Notepad and do some nice mass-search-and-replaces across all rules. Very powerful!
2006-02-06, 10:02:26
anonymous from Switzerland  
Thank you! Danke!
2006-05-08, 08:50:01
the tek guy from Germany  
Just posting that spamming knumskull - have been looking for a way to make the filters work properly for quite some time though. thx
2006-07-26, 10:31:15
anonymous from United Kingdom  
Useful tip, thanks very much.
2007-02-07, 17:08:49
anonymous from United States  
Just what I was looking for !

Thanks !
2008-05-21, 06:54:15   (updated: 2008-05-21, 06:56:36)
anonymous from South Bend, United States  
Message filter is playing games with me. This has happened several times. I create 5 or 6 filter rules to sort incoming mail to local folder. The next day I discover from the messages still sitting in the inbox that the filters have not functioned. When I check the log I find that only 1 or 2 remain and the others have vanished.
2008-10-07, 03:16:00
anonymous from South Africa  
2009-09-18, 21:51:27
It really works. Thanks!
2009-12-23, 10:05:48
Butt Fugly from United Kingdom  
One quick Google search, a bit of fiddling around in the folders, and everything works a treat. Many thanks.
2010-03-02, 09:40:31
dont forget to make sure thunderbird isn't open when you do this.
2010-04-06, 22:24:59
qdkkqgoe from United Kingdom  
2011-10-15, 09:29:34
[hidden] from Canada  
Very helpful. :) Thanks.
2012-03-31, 17:52:58
anonymous from Washington, United States  
Just solved a major problem for me after an import from Eudora. Danke



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