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

  1. Thanks for the tip! I just ordered a new iMac (my current computer is dieing, oh well). Anyway, here’s a tip for you. Instead of renaming every file’s extension, just run this command instead:

    dbxconv -mbx -mbxextmbox *.dbx

    Then you don’t have to rename every file by hand (or run any additional commands). Awesome if you have over 50 different .dbx’s (like me :P).

  2. Brandon, yeah, you’re right. Thanks for the tip. I should change my original entry to incorporate your tip, but this comment list is short enough people will see your comment.

  3. I am a tad confused about the first part, step one. Could someone describe it abit more? I have been using hotmail with outlook for a while but am moving over to gmail and pop3, so am using a variety of programs to get my mail safely over to gmail, this involves pst to mbox conversion.

    Im a little confused as to where profiles and things come into the whole mail scenerio, a few tops would be appreciated


  4. Thanks for this great suggestion, if i can add a couple of hints I used.

    Firstly to rename the files from mbx to mbox in bulk you can use the command

    rename *.mbx *.mbox to do them all at once.

    Also if you are using entourage 11.3+ and there is no import->mail->other you can simply drag the mbox files directly onto the folder structure in entourage. It takes some time but the mail box and all messages are imported.

  5. Thanks so much! I have been looking for hours for ways to switch my mailbox away from outlook 2003 and now I don’t even have to try importing stuff via entourage either! Hooray for never having to touch another microsoft product.

  6. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! I just got an iMac- my 1st mac ever and my #1 concern was importing all my dbx files- this worked PERFECTLY!

  7. This tip is brilliant, but I can’t use it. My Dell PC crashed and all I have left of my Outlook emails and contacts are .pst files on an external drive. Is there any way to convert and import them into Mac Mail and Address Book?

  8. I looked at the ‘Freenet’ website to try to find the dbxconv to download, but the whole site is in German. I rambled around in it trying to find anything that looked like a download page, but was not successful. Is there another site in English, or does anyone know the page to select (in German) to get to the downloads?

  9. Excellent tip. Works perfectly, stable even for very large mailboxes (1G). Fast too (less than 1 hour on the PC, only a few hours on the Mac). Thanks!

  10. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! For some reason I thought the PC-Mac switch would be simple. How naive. This was one of my last hurdles. Can’t thank you enough.

  11. Thanks for the instructions, like Hilary, this was my last hurdle.
    Also thanks to dbxconv (sent him $20.00).
    Loving my imac now!

  12. Similar to other users, email was my last item to switch from pc to mac. I thought I was doomed because mac help couldn’t advise on anything pc-related, then the Apple store erroneously advised that it was not possible to convert Outlook Express to mac mail…. Daunted but determined, I kept searching.

    I used your steps 3-4 to convert Outlook Express .dbx files to .mbox files for mac mail, using the Ulrich Krebs dbx converter (I donated 10 euros).

    Your instructions worked perfectly! I can’t thank you enough. Rest in peace, pc!

  13. Ummm, so there’s a reason I’m switching to macBook… What is .pst archive and where can I find it?

  14. And one more thing, I have Outlook not Outlook Express, will these instructions work nevertheless?

  15. First, many thanks for this post. I just tried it, and everything seemed fine until I got into When I did the import in Mail, I could see the message subjects being read, but after it finished, the two mboxes I imported are empty. Any ideas?

  16. I followed all of the steps, but when I went to check the imported emails all I got were the folders without any messages in them…any suggestions?

  17. Pingback: how to conver/import outlook PST mailbox into OSX iMail « Words of (My) Life

  18. what if a user wanting to bring pst into mbox for archival no longer has a PC or DOS or Windows just a Mac with OSX and a bunch of .pst files?

    what options exist for those of us who don’t have PC’s or Windows but a bunch of data we need to archive in a format that is readable using open standards based protocols?

  19. Bambi,

    You can create a .pst in Outlook and it will ask you where you want to save it to… As to your second question, Outlook Express should be a free download from Microsoft. I believe you will need Outlook Express to pull this off.


    Yes, I’ve seen this happen before, but I can’t remember exactly how I fixed it. If I were you, I’d try creating a smaller .pst with a subset of your messages and then re-run “DbxConv” on the smaller .pst. If that works, I’d try a larger block of messages.


    Yes, the instructions begin with Outlook 2003 and then the messages are moved to Outlook Express. You will still need to get Outlook Express to pull this off.


    Check out my comment to Jason above:


  20. Hello!

    Thank you for this!
    I have just one question: will this trick work also with Outlook 2007?

    thank you

  21. I tried item 2, file-import -messages- outlook and pick main identity as the mailbox because it was the only one that showed up. It found this location C:\Documents and Settings\Reid\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{EA866AC4-42A6-4B13-A8F6-02EAA5F29683}\Microsoft\Outlook Express\ but I got this message “The specified message store could not be opened. It may be in use by outlook express” when I picked “next”. That’s as far as I got. Any help?

  22. I couldn’t understand some parts of this article How to convert .pst archives, to .dbx, to .mbox files for use with Mail on Mac OS X, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  23. Reid,

    Did you get the error message from the utility “dbxconv”? Did you try quitting Outlook and Outlook Express before running “dbxconv”?


    What part weren’t you understanding? I can try to clarify, but if you follow it step by step, it should get you there…


  24. Okay, I’m almost computer illiterate and I don’t understand the above. I would like to move my E-Mail messages from a PC (Win ’98) to a new IMac and Apple Care doesn’t seem to know how to do it and my server doesn’t do IMAP accounts, so I’m at a loss here. I kind of need to know every step, what to click, etc. If anyone has the time and heart to help me, it would be greatly appreciated.

  25. Will your tips still work with the new mac system? I have a macbook pro coming in next week.

  26. Brad:

    Thanks a lot! We’re waiting for the arrival of our brand-new iMac and your post should help ease the transition for those hardcord OE users that live here and are slaves to an obsolete Dell machine!

  27. Thank you for the blog entry and the link to libpst (readpst). The link to outport was somewhat pointless since it only runs on windows, quote from site:

    “Less of an issue and more of a design limitation… Outport interacts with Outlook via it’s OLE interface. Outport doesn’t know anything at all about the underlying .pst file. It can’t open arbitrary .pst files and, since I have no desire at all to try to reverse engineer the .pst format, probably never will.”

    My problem using libpst is that I am using outlook 2003 pst file. I may have to install a windows virtual machine for this one =/

  28. Krzee,

    Even though you have an Outlook 2003 .pst file, libpst/readpst could still be helpful for you if you are able to convert the 2003 .pst back to a 97-2002 .pst. Here’s how: on the PC running Outlook 2003, create an Outlook 2002 compatible .pst file using the File, New, Outlook Data File command, and then choose “Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders File (.pst)” as the storage type. Drag all your message and folders from the 2003 .pst archive to the 97-2002 archive.

    You’re right, unless you have access to a PC with Outlook installed, Outport won’t be very helpful.


  29. I have the .dbx files on the PC side of MAC (bootcamp) from dead dell PC if I download the ‘converter’ from ‘krebs’ how do i get it to work and convert?? I don’t have outlook express or outlook on the PC side. I want to convert and have the eMails on MacMail on the Mac side.

  30. Okay, I have some huge PST files on CD (from my PC Outlook). However, I no longer have the PC. How do I convert them to MBOX files using a mac. All the software I can find, uses a PC, which I do NOT have.


  31. i dont know how to do step 3, i dont know what to type in the cmd window. i just typed “dbxconv -mbx *.dbx”
    i dont understand what you mean by navigate ….

  32. The command prompt defaults to something like the root of your C: drive. If your .dbx exists on the desktop, you should navigate to the desktop where your .dbx file exists using something like:

    dir “Documents and Settings”
    dir “All Users”
    dir username
    dir desktop

    Once the command prompt is displaying the same directory as the .dbx and the dbxconv script (put both on the desktop), you can use the line you were trying to use before.

  33. I’m getting everything in individual folders, but I have many subfolders (some with the same names). Anyway to import everything as it was subfoldered in Outlook Express? Thanks for the info though it was great.

    I actually copied my outlook express folder to the C drive which made it much easier to navigate to in dos and created a backup as well.

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