How to convert .pst archives, to .dbx, to .mbox files for use with Mail on Mac OS X

I was struggling with converting a .pst archive to a .dbx (so I could bring a huge .pst archive over to Mac OS X and Mail.app). It turns out to be really easy.

1. Open Outlook (in my case Outlook 2003) and open your .pst archive. Next, go to Tools->Email Accounts, click the radio button for “View or Change existing email accounts”, and then under “Deliver new email to the following location” you should choose the name of your .pst archive (in my case it was called “Personal Folders” (see screenshot). You’ll get some warning about all new incoming mail going to your .pst archive, but just continue, as we’re almost done with the repugnant odor otherwise known as Outlook.

2. Open Outlook Express (if you can’t find Outlook Express, go to Start->Run, type in msimn.exe, and press OK to launch it if it exists somewhere on your machine), choose File->Import->Messages->Outlook and then choose the mailbox you want to import (or all of them if you must).It took about an hour and a half, using a speedy IBM ThinkPad T42, to pull in an archive over 1 GB, but it did it eventually…

3. Before you quit Outlook Express, go to Tools->Options->Maintenance->Store Folder and note your file path to where your .dbx files are kept (mine is “C:\Documents and Settings\bschwie\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{3203D4E4-3933-4654-8ACC-63655A457D5D}\Microsoft\Outlook Express”).Next, to convert the .dbx files into .mbox files, grab “DbxConv”, a DBX to MBOX converter by Ulrich Krebs. Toss DBXconv into the same folder as all of your .dbx files, open a DOS prompt, navigate to the directory that contains the folder full of .dbx files and DbxConv, and then run the following command:dbxconv -mbx *.dbxDepending on how large your .dbx files are, this may take a while (I had a 1.5 GB file that took a half hour). After they are converted, rename the file ending for each file from .mbx to .mbox…

4. After the .dbx files are converted, move the folder containing the .mbx files to your Mac (finally!). On your Mac, renamed all the .mbx files to .mbox. Fire up Mail on your Mac and go to File->Import Mailboxes->Other and then navigate to the folder containing all the .mbx files. All the .mbox files will be grayed out, but just click the “Choose” button and the next window in Mail will show you all the .mbox files it can convert (it will ignore the .dbx files if they are present). Click the OK button to begin importing… Again this may take a bit depending on the processor inside your Mac.Alternative ending… If you aren’t able to get DBXconv on to your PC you can fire up Entourage on your Mac, instead. To go this route, skip steps 3 and 4 above and while you’re in Outlook Express, make a folder on the desktop and drag all the mail messages that you want to convert to the folder on the desktop. Then, transfer this folder containing all your messages in .eml files to your Mac. Fire up Entourage and drag and drop these .eml’s. Once they’re all converted (Entourage may appear to lock up, just be patient), you can export from Entourage to an .mbox file for Mail.

87 Responses to “How to convert .pst archives, to .dbx, to .mbox files for use with Mail on Mac OS X”

  1. Janet says:

    When I try to run the dbx command on the dos prompt I keep getting an error message – “not recognised as internal or external command, operable file or batch file”. I do have the dbxconv.exe and my dbx files in the same directory and am in it when in dos whne I try this command. Outlook and Outlook express are closed too. Help!!!

  2. Brad says:

    Janet, It sounds like you may need to make the .exe executable. I’d try googling this… Brad

  3. David says:

    HELP – I have followed all of the suggestions above (thank you!) and have created a directory of .mbox files. When I ask Mac Mail to import, it only seems to want to import the last mailbox (and not all of them). Any suggestions? David

  4. Alex says:

    For that need special tool,but not everything utility which works with mails will be compatible for these business,because many tools very direct and don’t have different features,but my familiars advise me-convert dbx to eml,they said me it universal free tool which can easily solve email corruption issues, when preventive measures could not help to avoid this problem,also can extract files in eml format only, preview the results and make sure, that all needed messages are successfully found in corrupted archives of dbx format,can recover emails from corrupted files with dbx extension, but, this program uses a revolutionary approach and it repairs more messages, than other programs for email recovery and convert dbx to eml.

  5. Acholla Onyango says:

    this worked like a charm for me! thanks a million Schwie!

  6. Glenn Gibb says:

    I have never used dos. I want to transfer all my mail to another who uses Mac. to look after a project while I’m away for a few weeks. I run Windows XP home addition. Here’s what I’ve done. I copied all my dbx files to a folder on drive D. I have downloaded and unzipped Dbxconv and put it in the same folder as the dbx files. I went to start>all programs > accessories> command prompt. when I open the DOS box it reads C:\ Documents and Settings\Glenn Gibb. When I type in dbxconv -mbx *.dbx I just get a message ‘dbxconv is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file’
    I tried start>run >dbxconv.exe and get a message windows cannot find dbxconv.exe

    What am I missing??

    Thank you

    Glenn Gibb

  7. Glenn Gibb says:

    Ignore my previous post . I moved the dbx files into docs and settings/glenn gibb and it worked slick as a whistle

  8. Tonytee says:

    Does this also work with converting PC Outlook Express address books to Mac address book? If so, how?

  9. Gaby says:

    I feel really stupid but I haven’t been able to find the DBXConv at the page everyone is suggesting because everything is in german… I tried to find the english page someone suggested months ago in this forum but I still go to the german site… From where can I download the converter????? Gaby

  10. redking says:

    Gaby,
    I found it here (go to bottom of page for zip file).

    My situation:
    I bought a new iMac and planned to keep it and the PC but the PC died suddenly. I have 2.3 Gb of precious Outlook email on the PC.

    I’m using a friend’s laptop Win XP computer to do Steps 1, 2 and 3 above.

    YOU NEED TO HAVE OUTLOOK INSTALLED WHEN YOU DO STEP 2 (Importing the PST archive file into Outlook Express).

    I did not have Outlook installed and got an error message (“cannot open MAPI file”). Microsoft has a help article on importing PST files into Outlook. They say you need to have Outlook installed because Outlook EXPRESS uses some files from Outlook in the conversion. When I installed Outlook, the error message dissapeared and I was able to locate my PST archive file, open it in Outlook Express and IMPORT the complete PST file.

    After that I found the DBX files location in Outlook Express (Step 3) – however, whebn I tried to follow the path to the files in My Computer, there was no folder listing for the “\Local Settings\ part of the path.
    SOLUTION: In Outlook Express, go to ‘Tools->Options->Maintenance->Store Folder and change the Stored Folder to a New Folder. Once you quit Outlook Express and re-start, it will transfer all the DBX files to the new (simple) location you specified. That is how I found the DBX files finally!

    I just completed this and downloaded and opened (with Stuffit) the DBXCONVERT file but now I see in Step 3 that you need to RUN A DOS COMMAND from a DOS WINDOW. So it is back to the PC for me.

    Looking forward to Step 4 and finally getting rid of my PC forever!
    – redking

  11. redking says:

    DbxConv – DBX to MBOX converter by Ulrich Krebs
    http://freenet-homepage.de/ukrebs/english/dbxconv.html

    (here is the link)

  12. redking says:

    “MAPI error messages when you import or export messages in Outlook Express”
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/179637

    (Microsoft Help and Support Article)

  13. redking says:

    I just completed step 4 and am now back at my iMac. The ‘.mbox’ files imported ok into Mail. Now all I need to do is sort them all!

    Thanks to this article I now have all my Outlook email. Without it, I’d be starting from scratch.

    Thanks Schwie!

  14. GEK says:

    Thank you for the tip on transferring e-mails from outlook express to Mac mail using DBXCONV. I was wondering if there is any easy way of transferring GROUPS of e-mail addresses to Mac mail. I have looked and looked to no avail. I would really appreciate any help. Thank you in advance.

  15. Brad says:

    I recommend setting up a Gmail account, syncing the address book on the PC to Gmail, and then sync the Mac to the Gmail contacts. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can add the ability for your Mac to sync its addresses with Gmail:

    http://www.lifehacker.com.au/tips/2008/05/29/enable_google_contact_sync_without_an_iphone_or_ipod_touch-2.html

    Or, export the addresses from Outlook to vcard files and Address Book will pull these right in.

  16. modgon says:

    Thanks man!

  17. Charles says:

    I was able to export all my Outlook mail to OE and then converted those dbx files to mbx and then renamed the folders to mbox and imported them into mac mail. Everything went very well, i did lose about 50 mails along the way when importing to OE. The main challenge I encountered….i had a folder in my mail box called pending, which had about 2000 mails in it, and mac mail did not pull those in during the import. It listed 3 folders only, inbox, sent, and deleted.

    Any ideas why this happened and what i can do to fix it? I tried renaming that problem file from pending.mbox to inbox.mbox but that did not work.

  18. Brad says:

    Charles,

    I’m guessing that your Mac actually DID import it, you’re just not seeing it. Look below your Inbox and other folders that were imported in Mail.app. There should be a folder called “Imported” at the bottom. Expand the folder and you should see your “Pending” folder. Please let us know if this works.

    Brad

  19. Charles says:

    My Mac imported the Inbox, Deleted, and Sent box only and placed it in the Imported Folder it created under On My Mac. What is interesting is that during the import the Pending box is not appearing as a list of boxes that can be imported. I tried it again last night. I then thought that the Pending conversion got screwed up, so i re-ran that last night and tried to import it this morning, and received the following “Error – No valid mbox files were found”

  20. Mark says:

    Truly amazing. Everything works as described. Even attachments in messages converted over. I highly recommend using DOS prompt to convert mbx to mbox files – what a time saver!

  21. Ted says:

    STOKED. Thank you. The only snag I ran into was the hidden nature of some of the PC folders inside /Identities/, but once I moved the .dbx files to somewhere visible, all is well and its all Mac from here 🙂

  22. Jon says:

    I wasn’t able to get these instructions to work with Outlook 2007. I got all the *.mbox files generated on my windows vm (using fusion) and imported into imail as separate mailboxes. all the messages come over, but when i try to click on the imported messages, the content isn’t available. it’s like the headers are there but the bodies aren’t. anybody had success converting outlook 2007 PST files?

  23. David says:

    Brad – been trying to use Dbxconvert without success – following steps but in dos I get ‘nothing to do’ as a response when I type in dbxconv -mbx *.dbx. Dbxconvert and copy of outlook express dbx folder are both on the desktop. Any advice? I’ve also tried renaming the oe dbx folder by dropping the .dbx suffix. I’ve also had a dos response – dbxconv isn’t recognised as a command, operable program or batch file.
    Is there another option for me to convert my outlook express mail version 6 for us with a new imac using Mail v 4.2?
    Thanks
    David

  24. David says:

    Ignore my last message Brad – I managed to sort out the transfer – it was partly me but also I found I could only get the conversion to happen if I kept things simple in dos and used the C:\Documents and Settings\my name location – anywhere else and I couldn’t get anything to work! I also followed the instructions elsewhere on this blog to import the mbx files into Mail on my mac through a networked shared folder with my PC, create a new mailbox in the import folder and then rebuild the mailbox – as my first try showed I had messages and details of who sent them and when but no content. Needless to say I only converted copies and have kept the original files on my PC. Thanks to everyone for their contributions to this task.

  25. Brandon says:

    Awesome walkthough! Made my life a whole lot easier. Thanks so much for the info! 😀

  26. Ainhoa says:

    I have this problem but my dbx files are from an old Mac Outlook Express, and now I would convert those files into Mac mail…Could you help me?

    Thanks in advance,
    Ainhoa

  27. Verushka says:

    Hi, I`m trying to follow the process but I cannot find the dbx program If I type on google the closest thing seems to be this http://domain.freenet.de/index.html
    but then I`m lost
    Hope that someone can help

    Thanks a lot

  28. Nikhil Sharma says:

    Thanks a ton, really, this is great help.

    I would like to add for those users who use pst files from Outlook 2007 or 2010.

    Find a machine with Outlook 2003 and import the pst from Outlook 2007 and do as instructed above.

    And you can find dbx converter at http://www.ukrebs-software.de/english/dbxconv/dbxconv.html with full instructions. Have used it.

  29. Ivan says:

    If you don’t have access to a PC anymore, there’s a program (PstExporter) that runs entirely on Mac and does all the work. It converts mails and contacts.

    It’s really easy to use. Check it out at http://www.arrowbit.com/info/pstexporter

  30. DM says:

    Absolutely awesome. Advise left 4+ years ago works perfect up to now (I’m on Mac Leopard Snow)

  31. HawaiiVal says:

    Thank you, thank you. Or in the vernacular, Mahalo Nui Loa.

    My first Mac and I am thrilled to finally wean myself off Outlook. Thanks to your help, was able to make transition pretty painlessly.

    Aloha,

  32. Sami says:

    I love you Man! Thank you so much. I can at last remove Microsoft from my life…

  33. laurence says:

    hi,
    i think i’ve followed all the advice and dragged all my dbx from Outlook Express into a file that contained dbxconverter. The DOS prompt worked and the window showed all the mailboxes and their names and the number of messages being converted but when i tried to import the etmbox file that was created to the Mac (OSX Lion) only one file was imported, the last in alphabetical order, but none of the other 20 odd ones the DOS window had shown listed.
    Does anyone have an idea of what might have happened or of what i did wrong?
    thanks in advance
    laurence

  34. Bivvie says:

    Thanks for this. Just moved all my emails over from Outlook Express on old PC to Mail on new iMac and worked perfectly. I downloaded dbxconv from link ok, but it wouldn’t open. However, I dragged it into the folder containing the .dbx files, dropped each .dbx folder into dbxconv and it converted files to .mbx. Renamed all files .mbox, copied them to portable drive and plugged into iMac. Then imported into Mail as outlined above, i.e., go to ‘File>Import Mailboxes’, select ‘Files in mbox format’, locate files on portable drive and off you go. Thanks again for all the help and advice given here.

  35. Great article post on converting. Thank you for sharing this.

  36. Sandra Diaz says:

    Hi,
    I was facing same problem for convert DBX into PST, EML, MSG, HTML, MBOX & RTF file format. MBOX always a good choice for any users & I was found a tool which convert DBX files into PST, EML, MSG, & MBOX.

    http://www.freeviewer.org/outlook-express/dbx-to-mbox.html

    Hope it will help to resolve your issue

    Thanks

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