Moving your email from Windows Outlook over to Evolution

Moving to Linux would be very easy were it not for the hassles of getting your emails transferred over. However, at least it’s not the showstopper that it was just a few years ago.

Your first issue is finding your .PST files which you can do by clicking on properties. To copy those over, go out of Outlook and copy them onto a USB stick. Likewise for contacts, calendars, etc. if you want those too though I’ve never used them so won’t be talking about them here. Evolution has a PST import limit of around 500MB so if your PST file(s) are bigger than that you’ll need to create some more and move your email into them until you’ve the PST files below the limit. At this point, it’s best to disable Outlook which you can so simply by changing the POP server that it uses to pick up your email; note down the settings as you’ll need those to set up Evolution.

Next you will need to install Evolution if you’ve not done so already and also ReadPST.

Evolution can take quite a while to import PST files (hours in my case) so you’ll need some patience for this step. Once that’s done you’ll discover one limitation of its import facility: it doesn’t import email in top level folders. Thus you’ll find that various folders which it has created are empty. This is where ReadPST comes in because it will read those PST files and separate them out into the various folders with mbox files in each of them. For the folders which Evolution has left empty, you need to import the contents from the appropriate spot in the folder hierarchy which ReadPST has created for you.

Finally, there’s the business of getting new mail  into Evolution. Go into Edit, Preferences and create the email accounts that you had in Outlook. As always, the settings here aren’t quite the same as those in Outlook (why that’s so is a mystery as the mail servers obviously work with all mail clients). In my case, I found that 1and1 needed a bit of tweaking to get outgoing mail to work, the settings being server: (as per Outlook), server requires authentication, no encryption, authentication type: login. Once you’ve those set up, it’s best to send yourself a message to check that it’s all working.

What about email rules? I took the chance to do a little rationalisation of my email folder structure so didn’t bother trying to import those but that seems the best approach anyway as Evolution doesn’t seem to have nearly so much complexity as Outlook did. I say complexity rather than flexibility as there are just so many options in there that if you’re not careful email can seem to go into random folders sometimes.

And that’s it. Sadly, importing the messages isn’t as automated as it could be and, in my case, took quite a while but then that’s down to me having email back to 1996 and a far too complicated folder structure.

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