Open Bug 166842 Opened 22 years ago Updated 9 months ago

[RFE] Ability to import and export message filters


(MailNews Core :: Filters, enhancement)



(Not tracked)


(Reporter: neroz, Unassigned)


(Blocks 1 open bug)


User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.0.0+) Gecko/20020518
Build Identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.0.0+) Gecko/20020518

Right now there are a few bugs on this subject that are seeing little/no
attention. Some refer to importing Outlook filters, others deal with rules.dat
not working on different OSes, others not working with different versions of

Ignoring all that. It would be nice to have say, "Export Filters" and "Import
Filters" buttons on the filters GUI. Above "Move up/down" perhaps? Simply
copying your rules.dat around is not user-friendly (and as above, seems to have
problems of it's own).

If it's not clear, I'm only suggesting we be able to import/export mozilla
filters for now.

Reproducible: Always

Steps to Reproduce:
see bug 97724 (import filters) and bug 151612 (per filter import & export).
151612 is the closest one.

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of 151612 ***
Closed: 22 years ago
Resolution: --- → DUPLICATE
This is NOT a dupe.
Resolution: DUPLICATE → ---
Whiteboard: DUPEME
Whiteboard: DUPEME
Ok, then we have 2 bugs that want the same thing (in slightly different
wordings). Just more work.
I did look at all the bugs related to this before submitting, and none of them
are a good starting point IMHO. The bug you duped this as wants per-filter
export/import, which is just silly. :-)
Theu would be solved together - if these 2 bugs stay separate, 1 would be
solved, and the other one could be forgotten.

In my opinion, a filter-per-filter-export is more useful than an
all-filters-export, which is something what I would never do, only when
switching form 1 mailer to another. But adding 1 single filter is something
which is very useful for my work as an administrator. I know have to send the
instructions manauklly, I would rather send the filter (1 or more) itself. What
you want is the same, just select all filters that you want, and click export.
Much easier than importing the whole set, and deleting a few silly filter that
you didn't really want.
And how is the UI going to be set up for this? Would you have a button next to
each filter saying "Export me"? I asked on #mozilla if buttons would be accepted
for exporting *all* of them, they said no. It would be a menu entry. If you have
a menu entry which can export filters seperately, thats yet another GUI to let
you pick what filter to export/import. Importing all of the filters and deleting
the ones you don't need isn't exactly hard.
*** Bug 175230 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
How about this- we'll make bug 151612 depend on this one.  This bug is the
general implementation of filter exporting/importing- bug 151612 is specifically
about per-filter import/export.  (Naturally I would hope both would be fixed at
the same time.) 
Blocks: 151612
Ever confirmed: true
*** Bug 97724 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
*** Bug 183403 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
*** Bug 187330 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
mass re-assign.
Assignee: naving → sspitzer
*** Bug 206717 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
As an end user, I just went through this process and there were quite a few
manual steps to moving/merging my NS4.79 "rules.dat" file to
"msgFilterRules.dat" that I hope this thread may solve (I hope to migrate
another 30 users soon). I did a few searches & found some nice docs...

Importing Communicator Mail Filters to Netscape 7.x

HOWTO: Convert Netscape 4.7 Profile to Mozilla Profile

Here's what I did for my 30 some odd rules...

1. Exit Mozilla & Copied H:\NS_profile\username\ImapMail\\rules.dat
to C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\Profilename\Random

2. Made a backup copy of msgFilterRules.dat -> msgFilterRules.dat_org

3. Copied NS47rules.dat to msgFilterRules.dat& edited the version line, see text
below version="6" => version="6"

4. Launch Mozilla Mail->Tools->Message Filters and check each rule as most "Move
To Folder" needed a new valid pointer. Once I chose the correct folder, all was
well and my filters are working with minor tweaks.

I don't know what would be involved in automating this better, biggest chore was
repointing all the rules to the realtive folders. I was real glad my verbose
names & desciptions of each rule were adequate for me, to help find the right
location on the new drive. Hope this helps in improving the Message Filter
Import/Export process.

I also question the location of the msgFilterRules.dat files? -not exactly easy
to find <sigh>
C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\Profilename\Random

Related Mail Filter Import/Export Refs.
Bug 121725 - Import mozilla addressbook
Large filter list gets incorrectly migrated...
Filters Should be Shareable Across Multiple E-mail Accounts
Filters in rules.dat not exportable across platforms
RFE correlation between address book, folders, and filters
Tracking bug: Big problems with Message Filters UI

It would be nice if all the dynamic User Config/Prefs data was in one place
separate from mail and static moz files, so that Admins like me could help folks
move their profiles as needed or automate it when necessary. I didn't use the
Import Profile tool for mail, cause I read it was slow with large archives. So I
manually deleted the .snm files & copied the mail folder following this great
HOWTO: Convert Netscape 4.7 Profile to Mozilla Profile

IMHO, as part of the bigger picture this work should be incorporated into user
*Profile Management/Backup/Migration/Sharing & Mobility*...

Mozilla Profile Migration Links
7067   	 All profile contents should use cross-platform formats   	
7048 	Roaming access -keep bookmarks/cookies/history/etc in a central repository 	
17457 	Need formalized way to "import" a profile 	
17917 	Add "smart" roaming bookmarks (etc.) with sync capabilities 	
31732 	Make Deployment of Roaming Profiles Easier in LAN/WAN Environments 	
55309 	Need an option to store migrated profiles in a user's choice of location 
65960 	Set user profile location via registry key (network drive) 	
66259 	Profiles should be transportable (movable) 	
124048 	Roaming - Funding - Sync during runtime

Sorry, Typo in #14 (wish we could post edit)

3. Copied NS47rules.dat to msgFilterRules.dat & edited the version line,
version="6" => version="8"
I also think, that it is a very useful feature.
Don't forget to put into thunderbird!
I can't even figure out how to vote for this bug -- so I'm open to the
possibility that I may be missing a few other salient points.  But this *IS* a
needed feature in my book.  For the fella that didn't think he would ever export
ALL rules -- then I guess you're running a WIN domain(if your a WIN user) and
can just trot from computer to computer and use the same client setup?  Well,
I'm too cheap to setup such a thing in my office(4-7 computers) and we're still
configured as a workgroup.  I'd like an easier way of importing/exporting my
Mozilla setups(not just rules btw) between machines.  I am using IMAP for those
wondering about the sense of that sort of setup.

And what about between work and home.  Again, this should be a little easier to
do than it currently is(exportable profile).

I just installed Thunderbird and I would have like to import my Mozilla suite
filters. This is what I told it to do when I installed, and now I don't have
them. :(
*** Bug 270205 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Product: MailNews → Core
*** Bug 254779 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Just to have full import/export of all info behind .thunderbird/
(messages,filters,accounts,etc...) between two thunderbird applications would be
nice, so not having to setup it all again in thunderbird at work or in new computer.

For people looking how to do this, here[1] is explained how to do it manually.

(In reply to comment #21)
> Just to have full import/export of all info behind .thunderbird/
> (messages,filters,accounts,etc...) between two thunderbird applications would be
> nice, so not having to setup it all again in thunderbird at work or in new computer.

I have used Thunderbird on many machines in different locations, laptops, etc and having to recreate my filters is a really big pain.
This really shouldn't be considered a "enhancement" but a much needed feature.
If I could use all my votes for this bug, I would.  Without the ability to export and import filters, I consider the product unusable.

As far as exporting certain filters goes, this is an interesting request but should not be allowed to delay solving the larger problem of exporting all of them.  Perhaps there could be an "active"/"inactive" toggle on each filter, and then an option during export to include only active filters.
I second Gavin's comment.  IMHO, one of Thunderbird's big shortcomings is the inability to move/copy filters between accounts.  Export/Import would solve this problem, especially if the exported file is in an editable format (text or XML).  I recently changed email providers and had to manually recreate my plentiful filters (one at a time).
I think the thread above defines a real need, one that is very important to me. I have setup Thunderbird running parallel with Eudora, which I have used for over 15 years. My filters have been crafted over time and hate the thought of starting at the beginning. Looking through the history of this under the several bug numbers, I think the points have all been covered. 
>>>  The most urgent need is an Import/Export function. To/From an editable intermediate format would be the way to go.
>>>  I would think a check-off menu would satisfy everyone who would want to handle one, several or all, at a time.
>>>  Eventually, a grouping function, tree or otherwise, would be very useful.

*** Bug 248525 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
I created a simple extenstion to help export and filters. You can export the messages filters as files and import the filters from files. When you import filters your current filters will be lost. I had tested it on thunderbird and mozilla last versions.
You can find it here:
I couldn't agree with you Orbra Bliss more.  I have more than a thousand mailboxes in Eudora and filters to most of them.  It's ten years worth of incremental work. I'm switching to Thunderbird for a number of reasons but not out of dissatisfaction with Eudora, whether they develop it further or not. I'm  hoping the Mozilla suite taken as a whole evolves into an acceptable PIM.  But here at the beginning I'd give body parts for a filter converter.  I have written the main people at Eudora responsible for making it "open source" but got no reply.  

Several additional points in addition to the plea for a converter (and not just one from Outlook whose "rules" are kindegarten stuff compared to what you can do in Eudora with a filter)

First, some explanation somewhere of the syntax that Mozilla is using in its filters would be very helpful.  That would help me craft better Thunderbird filters while I'm waiting for a converter.

Second, the current filter operates on only one system mailbox at a time.   If you write a filter, the default is set to work on the Inbox.   But an outgoing message which lands in the Sent folder for that account (I have six separate accounts, complicating matters significantly) isn't filtered.   That's a real problem.   

Lastly, and even worse for someone with hundred of mailboxes/folder, is the fact that the folder/mailbox to which the incoming or outgoing message is moved or copied does not open and reveal itself.   So the default filter on the incoming email in Inbox might work but you don't know you've received an email, especially if you have as many mailboxes in as many separate accounts as I do.

I'm hoping all this will resolve itself in time.  To the group I would say, please keep making your concern on these topics known.  Filtering is the major issue for making an email program work for a heavy user of email.   The time you spend moving emails manually can be hours if not days in a month.   It's an enormous and unnecessary burden.
This is most helpful and considered essential when want to take your filters to other computers.  It seemed like I saw someplace that Mozilla had this function in another email product/version.
Thank you,
Bug 314745 could be related ...
Yes import-export between 2 applications is needed ... but that could also done inside the same application, for example to import rules from a pop account to an other pop account inside TB
sorry, i mean bug 214548
I notice that four months have gone by since I wrote the tome above about my problems with Mozilla filters.   At this point I've bitten the bullet and written probably a hundred filters.   So I'm not writing now for some kind of Eudora to Thunderbird filter converter.  Be nice but I've given up thinking it will ever happen.  

That said, I'm still compelled to write a filter for each email account I've created which means that I sometimes need to write essentially the same filter for receiving or sending email to or from the same person/organization on multiple accounts.  The email filters still only work by default on the Inbox.   If I send an email to someone for whom I've written a filter, it just sits in the Sent box until I manually run the filter on that folder.   Why??   Seems easy enough to fix.   But MOST IMPORTANTLY, the filters still to do not OPEN the folder to which an email is filtered.   From my standpoint that's just incredibly ...... (ah, yes, we need to be civil) ........ not very well thought through.   If you have as I do well over a thousand folders in five accounts, that means you need to look through a thousand folders for an incoming email that was filtered out of the Inbox or to review one you sent to make sure you said what you meant to say.

I don't see any work on these filters at all.   In another forum I had the temerity to suggest the developers of Thunderbird look at Eudora which has filters down and the monitors started to call me a "troll."   Basically actionable libel. I'm not a troll, even vaguely.   I think Thunderbird filters are immature and need improving. And I would hope sooner rather than later.   Eudora is merely an example I've cited to give the developers something to learn from.

Lastly, I would point out that nothing has been done to integrate addressbooks across Mozilla products, especially a shared addressbook that you could use in both Thunderbird and Sunbird.  Most of us - or at least many of us - have come to Mozilla looking for a real PIM after thinking that there must be a way around Outlook which has essentially killed the PIM category.

How about creating an addressbook that bridges Thunderbird and Sunbird?

sorry for the spam.  making bugzilla reflect reality as I'm not working on these bugs.  filter on FOOBARCHEESE to remove these in bulk.
Assignee: sspitzer → nobody
Is there a standard format for describing mail filters?

Part of the reason there's no import/export for mail filters, I'm guessing, is that each program does them in completely a different way.  Filters are handled as local private data by each application, and thus, changing/adding data externally, without the application's knowledge, would not be a good thing to do.

It might be useful to open a separate bug for the other problem you mentioned, which is Thunderbird's failure to have a truly global filter, one that applies to *all* folders.  I really don't like the way Thunderbird forces me to bind a filter to a specific folder.  I sit there, wondering why my filter has no effect at all on incoming messages, then realized I had created it while in some other random folder and not in the Inbox....
> Part of the reason there's no import/export for mail filters, I'm guessing, is
> that each program does them in completely a different way.

The main request here is that Thunderbird simply export and import ITS OWN filters.  This is not a request to translate filters between applications (although some people have brought that up).

An E-mail application is simply not viable without the means to save and load its collection of filters.  You can't expect users to manually re-enter all of their filters on every computer they own or whenever they reconfigure their system.
(In reply to comment #38)
> The main request here is that Thunderbird simply export and import ITS OWN
> filters.  This is not a request to translate filters between applications
> (although some people have brought that up).

Ah, thanks for clarifying.

Would this help?

It still doesn't solve the problem of Mozilla having a separate filter table for each account.  That is an unfortunate misfeature.  The "msgFilterRules.dat" file exists one per account, and so it's not global.

If filtering per account is desired, it should have been made a selectable filter criteria that can be acted upon, just like the existing criteria in the pulldown menus in the filter UI.  The default should have been to act upon all accounts.  The "Local Folders" merged Inbox feature helps a little, but doesn't solve this fundamental problem of filters.
wrt Mr. Lehan's comments I don't believe it's true that your filter depends on what folder you're in when you activate it.   Rather the problem is that the filter works only on the Inbox of the account on which it was written, even though you can write filters that work on the Sent box or Spam box or any box.   Not sure I understand you would want a filter that would work on other than incoming or outgoing mail which is in my system one of the three folders just mentioned.  The fact that the filters are account specific is also very annoying.   One might add that it is very easy in Thunderbird to send email from the wrong account.  Obviously, an error on your part.   But there should be some control that allows you to more clearly separate accounts, like a different primary window and separate folder tree for each account.   Anything to help you know where you are in a system where you can get lost at the drop of a hat.
I manually "sneakernet" my msgFilterRules.dat file from Seamonkey Linux (at home) to Seamonkey Windows (at work).  It's a pain, but I know how to do it.   I have to do this, else the clutter of spam makes my email at work unreadable.

Please let me second this RFE, which can be handled one of two ways:

1) Build manual import/export for msgFilterRules.dat.  This need not translate (like LDAP) but rather it can simply export and import a text file.

2) And/or store IMAP based msgFilterRules.dat files on the relevant IMAP server (rather than on the client).  This is far less complex than the rather roaming roaming features, but would solve a notable fraction of the reasons people want roaming. IMAP msgFilterRules.dat applies primarily apply to (surprise!) IMAP folders.
Filter on "Nobody_NScomTLD_20080620"
QA Contact: laurel → filters
Product: Core → MailNews Core
I want this to.
I think this would be useful to many people. I wonder whether this could eventually be included as part of a wider Thunderbird Sync (or perhaps merged with Firefox Sync to create a Mozilla Sync). Maybe I'm thinking too big!

This feature request is now more pressing since the extension that allowed for exporting and importing message filters is not usable any more in the current Thunderbird versions. See:

But ideally it should be possible to (selectively) synchronise the message filters via Firefox/Thunderbird/Mozilla Sync as pointed in the previous comment.

See Also: → 229493

I didn't realize we don't have this... xref bug 1778243 comment 21.

Severity: normal → S3

This thread has been referred to:
Request for enhancement
"Profile msgFilterRules for all mail accounts in a profile"

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