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One of thing I'm doing these days is to try and keep all the 35.000 email I received and sent in the last 10 years. So I looked at how to move the contents of my pst files to the standard mbox mail format.

Looking on the web I found a quite interesting explanation on the Microsoft KnowledgeBase:

ENT2001: How to Use IMAP to Move Messages Between a PC and a Macintosh in Entourage, Outlook, or Outlook Express

What the KB article says is that you just have to create an account on an IMAP mail server, configure both clients to get emails from the IMAP account. Then copy all your email from Outlook to the IMAP server and then back to Mail on the Mac.

Seems to be good if you have access to an IMAP server and you don't have 3GB of pst file to move. A solution for both problem could be to setup an IMAP server on your local network: no need for a real IMAP server, and transferring 3GB over the local network should be way faster than doing it over the internet.

But the "Move to Mac" tutorial on the Apple site provided also the link to small software called Outlook2Mac that can do the migration without the need of setting up a IMAP account.

Technically speaking it connects to the mail storage of Outlook, cycles through all folders and email, and dumps each folder into a file formatted following the mbox specifications. And it also exports contacts and calendars appointments.

Yesterday I let the tool run all the night and this morning I had my 3GB pst file converted to a bunch of mbox files, this evening I tried to import them but all the emails had the wrong date, and many were recognized as today's emails: quite hidden in the FAQ of the product I found this "answer":

Mail shows the wrong date for imported emails:
It may be your email has non-US date formats to begin with. If this is the case, you may want to change your date settings on both your Windows and Macintosh machines to US/English before performing your conversion and importing operations.

O2M converts US/English dates to the standard MBOX format. If the date in the header is formatted differently from the US/English version of Outlook, the dates may not convert well. We don't currently support date formats other than US/English.

Unfortunately changing the locale on the Mac didn't work, so I tried changing the locale on my PC, export all the mailboxes again and then try the import: an this time it worked.

So, wrapping up, if you want to export all your email from Outlook (not Express, but only the one that comes with Office) to any mbox based mail client like Mail on the Mac, and you don't have an en-US locale here are the steps:

  1. Buy Outlook2Mac (it costs only 10 USD)
  2. Set the locale on the originating PC to en-US
  3. Run O2M selecting all the folders you want to export
  4. Move the generated folders on your Mac
  5. from Mail, "Import Mailboxes", select "mbox files" and select the files you copied from the PC
posted on Friday, January 11, 2008 12:53 AM
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