Creating a Mhonarc archive from MS Outlook emails

2004-03-12 14:26:39
Hi all,

I wanted to share my tale of converting email from MS-Outlook into a Mhonarc
archive, in hopes that it may be useful to someone else. (As I found out,
being a Windows-based user can have its drawbacks.)

My situation was one of running a Listserv list hosted by Lsoft, and after
several months realizing that it would nice to have Google-searchable
web-based archives. Mhonarc seemed like a great product, but the months of
emails I had acquired were in Outlook 2000, which uses a proprietary format,
not the "mbox" format desired by Mhonarc. Likewise, Listserv archives are
not in mbox format. (The logfiles can be converted, apparently, but by
default, the logfiles do not have full header information, and on top of
that, require one to write their own conversion program.)

After some online searching and experimenting, I was unable to find any
non-commercial utility to convert Outlook email files directly into mbox
format. (They only seemed to exist for Outlook Express -> mbox, such as

I found that Mozilla Thunderbird (build 0.4) used an mbox format email file,
and it allowed one to directly import existing email from Outlook or Outlook
Express. Woot!

However, I was disappointed to find that while the imported email from
Outlook retained its full header information, it lost any of its HTML
formatting in the message bodies.

A little more experimenting showed me that if I imported email from Outlook
to Outlook Express, I could then import from Outlook Express to Thunderbird
and it would retain all the HTML formatting in the emails. But, apparently
in the Outlook to OE step, much of the header information was lost, such
that Mhonarc could perform no message threading, aside from matching the

So, both import methods had something the other didn't.

I then devised a nefarious kludge to combine the best of both worlds:
1) Import from the Outlook 2000 into Thunderbird, using Thunderbirds import
2) Import from Outlook 2000 to Outlook Express using OE's import utility.
3) Import from OE to Thunderbird into another folder, using Thunderbirds
import utility.
4) Create two separate Mhonarc archives using the two mbox files from the
two imports into Thunderbird.

The OE archive would have all the HTML formatting in the msg files, but the
thread index files would not be correct. So, I simply copied the date,
thread and author index files from the Outlook2000 archive over the ones in
the OE archive. That resulted in archives that retained both 1) complete
HTML formatting and 2) full threading information. Viola!

Subsequent to that initial transition, I have been receiving all new emails
directly into Thunderbird, and '-add'ing those emails in batches to the
existing archives. (Again, being Windows-based and not having direct access
to mbox files on my hosted website, I have to do this on my PC, and then use
Frontpage to shuttle the changed files to my web host.)

Perhaps someone will tell me there is a much easier way, but at least this
worked and might be useful to someone else.

My archives are at:
Mozilla Thiunderbird:

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