Move a profile to Portable Thunderbird

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Portable Thunderbird is a third party build of Mozilla Thunderbird that includes a launcher to let you store your profile on the USB drive, along with Portable Thunderbird.

Your profile stores your email, address books, settings, add-ons and saved passwords. Thunderbird normally finds it by looking in a profiles.ini file on your boot drive. You can have multiple profiles, the file also tells Thunderbird which one to use by default. Portable Thunderbird only supports one profile, which it expects to find in the Data\profile directory within Thunderbird Portable. If you're switching to Portable Thunderbird you just have to find your current profile and copy its contents there [1]. Don't copy the actual directory too.

Recent versions of Thunderbird will open windows explorer (or your operating system's equivalent) showing the profile directory if you press the "show folder" button in help -> troubleshooting information. Otherwise see this article for how to find your profile under Windows.

If this doesn't work:

  • Check that you didn't copy the profiles subdirectory that contains one or more profiles, or copy the profile directory (whose name typically ends with ".default"). You only want to copy its contents, not the actual directory. If you look in the Data\profile directory you should see a prefs.js and a abook.mab file (among other files).
  • If Portable Thunderbird has a problem with your profile try transferring only the most important files from your old profile to one created by Portable Thunderbird, per this article.
  • You could launch Mozilla Thunderbird with a -profile "path" command line argument that specifies the profiles new location, to verify the profile works, and that you copied all of its subdirectories. If that works, then find Portable Thunderbird's thunderbirdportable.ini file (it should be in the same directory as ThunderbirdPortable.exe) and check that ProfileDirectory=Data\profile and that your profile is stored there.


The Portable Thunderbird web page states it supports Windows XP and later versions of Windows, and running under Linux/UNIX using Wine. The Wine application database gives Portable Thunderbird a platinum rating. A platinum rating is assigned to "Applications which install and run flawlessly on an out-of-the-box Wine installation". If for some reason you don't want to use Wine you could use the normal version of Thunderbird and pass it the profiles location as a command line argument.

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