Import MS Outlook mail into Claws-Mail

Having recently converted a family member to abandoning Microsoft’s products for GNU/Linux, I was faced with the problem of exporting email from Outlook ’07 to a format that would at least be text editor readable in GNU/Linux.

MS Outlook stores your email in a .pst file, which appears to simply be a proprietary archival format. You can locate the .pst file by going to the Account Settings.

I found a very handy little utility called readpst in the Debian repositories. I downloaded it, and per some instruction/manpage perusal,  I ran

readpst -D -M -b -o destination_folder Outlook.pst

which unpacked the PST folder into a file hierarchy properly corresponding with the way it had been set up in Outlook. The -D option includes deleted messages, the -M makes sure the proper folder structure is maintained and attachments are placed in the right folder, the -b option specifies not to save attachments for the RTF formatting of the mail (make it plaintext), and the -o option specifies the target directory.

I use and very much enjoy using Claws-mail, a full featured mail client that weighs in at a fraction of the size of the de facto Linux mail client, Thunderbird. Claws mail saves all messages as plain text files in a transparent folder structure (no burying of mail and attachments in odd dotfiles or folders) and therefore all messages are viewable/editable with any text editor and extremely simple to access. HTML and image support is simply a plugin away as well.
To import the messages, I simply created new folders in the Claws-Mail program, and copied the exported mail into those folders in the file manager. Claws updated instantly, and all the mail was viewable along with attachments.
I couldn’t be more pleased. 🙂