Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect

This tutorial will help you to return e-mails already fetched from your local POP e-mail client back to the mail server you are using. I.e. if you have downloaded all your messages with this option: ‘Leave a message on the server’ – not enabled:

Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect

So, if you have setup MS Outlook, Outlooks Express, Eudora, Thunderbird, etc., and during the settings you forgot to check the above option and now want all the mails back on the server ‘¦ this tutorial is for you.

Make sure you have a reliable web hosting provider especially if you have important emails that you don\”t want to lose. You really shouldn\”t take any risks here.

Certainly you could forward all the messages to yourself. However, that would add new headers and they will be rather different. Also most of the mail clients are not allowing bulk forwarding unless the messages are not send as a one big mail including all the rest inside.

If you want to restore all downloaded e-mails as they were, you will need two things:

1. Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client.
2. Mail redirect plug-in for Mozilla Thunderbird.

First download and install Mozilla Thunderbid 2.0 e-mail client, and when you are ready download and install the Thunderbird mail redirect extension (add-on, plug-in). Thunderbird version must be 2.0 because the plugin is not working on the new version 3.0

Maybe here is the place where you are asking yourself: ‘Well I messed my mails with Outlook. How Thunderbird will help me?‘

The answer is simple. Thunderbird has option to import settings from other mail clients.

So, if you have Outlook Express for example and you want to return fetched messages back to the server just use Thunderbird to import the mails and then proceed here.

In the example I’ve created there is an e-mail box and send some messages with different size and attachments.

Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect

Then I setup my mail client without the option to leave copy of the message on the server as it is on the first image, and click Get Mail.

Then all the mails were downloaded from the server to my local mail client.

Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect

Gosh! I need these mails all the time.I need them accessible from other PC’s and webmail. What should I do?

Well now I will just select the messages I want back, and will start my mail redirect add-on installed already as per the tutorial above.

Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect

This will open a pane with mail redirect options. There I have chose where to redirect the mails and pressed ‘Redirect’. The redirect process will start and according to the size and number of mails it has different ETA.

Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect

Once the process is finished the mails are back to my mailbox. The good part here is that they have the same mail headers as the initial ones and basically they are the same messages.

Restore (put back) already downloaded POP mail messages with mail redirect


Filed Under: Mozilla Thunderbird

Anthony Gee About the Author: Anthony G. is an IT specialist with more than 9 years of solid working experience in the Web Hosting industry. Currently works as server support administrator, involved in consultative discussions about Web Hosting and server administration. One of the first writers in the website, now writing for Free Tutorials community - he is publishing tutorials and articles for the wide public, as well as specific technical solutions.

Comments (63)

  1. Becca says:

    Thanks so much! I had 500 messages that were erased from my work email and this did the trick.

  2. Daniel says:

    Thanx for the great tutorial! Just have one more question, is there any possibility that the “sender” remains the same and not that it will be resent by myself, i.e. from one sender? I mean, that it will restore itself, like it would never happen? Thanx in advance, I appreciate

  3. Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    Daniel, when you restore downloaded messages with MailRedirect, the body and headers will be leaved untouched, so From, To, Received fields will remain in the redirected messages the same as in original ones.

  4. peety says:

    is it possible to redirect mails not only with the original headers, but also with the original timestamps?

  5. Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:

    The messages keeps the timestamps when I tried, so yes you can keep that.

  6. Michal says:

    I have email on different server and it seems like it adds new timestamps – The date of redirected messages is new and not the old one. I there some possibility how to keep old date? Or if I create account on gmail, will it work? Thanks

  7. Curtis says:

    It does keep the original time stamp within the e-mail; however, it actually shows having been received at the redirected e-mail address/device the current time/date that it is redirected.

  8. Curtis says:

    Just an update on my previous post, when I redirected the e-mails yesterday, 12/1, it showed them being received on 12/1. However, when I went out to look at the e-mails today, they are fully restored and appear to have been received on the correct date. Thanks Tony!!!

  9. Tonny says:

    Done. Thank you for the feedback guys.

  10. Catherine says:

    Thank you! I used Thunderbird 3 with this add-on, which works.

  11. Joakim Henriksson says:

    Excellent, I was in despair when I realized I had made that stupid mistake for the first time in 15 years. What a relief to find this article!

  12. Lum says:

    Thank you so much for this article.

    Accidentally wiped over 1700 e-mails off a mail server when I improperly configured thunderbird.

    This was a huge help, and worked perfectly for me.

    The only trouble I had was there was no clear indication that the mail redirect process had started, so I ended up with multiple copies of some e-mails, but that’s absolutely no biggie.

    Great article, great help, big thanks to you sir.

  13. Charly says:

    I restored every mail!

    Tonny Potter you rock!

  14. Guest says:

    Amazing — it worked well. Thank you!

  15. trae_z says:

    many thanks for this, proved very useful to me. my testimonial here:

  16. Guest says:

    Tony you have exactly what I need but I can’t use it!!! I have to restore messages from apple mail but thunderbird 2.0 do not import mails from apple mail and thunderbird 3.1 is not compatible with your plug-in :(( Do you know any other plug-ins for this situation??

  17. Tonny says:

    Well a workaround will be to import all your mails to Outlook first. Yes, you have to import it twice, but should work.

    Here is an article I found:

  18. Sunday A-Plus says:

    Thanks very much, i got my mails transfered back with date, in short am jst very happy for this trick.
    moore greez

  19. Ant says:

    Excellent article. Very useful after I screwed up my bosses email by forgetting to check the ‘leave a copy on the server’ box!!

    You can still get Thunderbird version 2 here:

    And the redirect plug-in here:

    You need v2 as the plugin doesn’t work with v3 (maybe someone knows of a v3 compatible plugin??)

  20. Brian says:

    I’m having trouble getting the mailredirect add on to work. After I select the messages that I want to have redirected and open the mailredirect add on, the area at the bottom where it says “following mails will be redirected” remains empty. Can someone help me with this?

  21. Tonny says:

    Hi Brian,

    Try with older version of Thunderbird and mailredirect. There are some issues reported with the new ones

  22. Krista says:

    It seems that I cannot import my settings from Windows Mail, which is where the problem occured for me. What can I use to help get those messages back on the server?

  23. Jon says:

    Brilliant! After trawling through pages and pages that say it can’t be done…. Its done.
    You totally rock!

  24. Alex says:

    Hi Tony, thanks God I found this tutorial. It helped me restoring back all my 2000 emails in the hotmail server. However they are all showing the day in I redirected them (last week)…so they lost their original dates…is there anything I can do to have them shown in the hotmail server with the original dates? thanks

  25. Tonny says:

    Well, I just tried it with my Hotmail account and the dates(headers) are fine.

    Try to redirect them again.(or with few messages)

  26. Alex says:

    Really strange. I already tried a few time to redirect the emails but they always show the redirect date (not the original date). Anyway, most important piece is the emails….thanx anyway.

  27. paper lee says:

    Thanks a lot Tony. I think you save me from the fire on my ass. However, I have found now this method works and only works with thunderbird version 3.1.

  28. Tony says:

    Thanks lee, I’ll update the post.

  29. Tyrone Williams says:

    These instructions do not seem to work with Evolution. There is no way to set the evolution account up on Thunderbird. I have tried at least five different methods thus far. I got Thunderbird setup, I had to create a new yahoo email account to do that. I got the plugin to work, only took three hours, but I still can not setup an account to access evolution or get my mail to Thunderbird. What am I doing wrong?

  30. Tonny says:

    Well, Evolution is under Linux and honestly this tutorial is not including it.

    In general to move your Evolution files to Thunderbird do the following:

    First locate the “.mozilla-thunderbird” folder. Once you are in this folder you will see some files in there with names such as Inbox, Inbox.msf, Junk.msf etc.

    Simply copy this over to “.evolution/mail/local” This is where any locally stored mail from Evolution is placed. There are a similar set of files to what you see in the Thunderbird folder, Inbox, Drafts …

    Copy the files named Inbox, Sent, Outbox and Drafts from the evolution folder to the mozilla-thunderbird folder.

    That is it. All the mails should be in your Thunderbird then.

  31. Alexander says:

    What can I say? THANKS!!! The author really saved me from the mess.

    Excellent article!

  32. Littlebrightspark says:


    Thank you for this I’m am so glad I found it.

    Just on e little problem, the new e-mail on the hotmail server are all sent by me, and are now grouped together as one message, how do I prevent this from happening have them show their original senders, please?

  33. Tonny says:

    This is strange. When I use mail redirect, the messages are with the original header.

  34. Ailsa says:

    Thanks – I needed this desperately and it worked!

    BTW it did work using Thunderbird 3. In fact, after downloading v2 (thanks to Ant for the link) and the redirect add-on, I got a message saying it could only be done in v3.

    Also, I don’t often send email from this particular computer because it just didn’t seem to work. While trying to send the redirect, I ran into the same problem. It turned out that I had the wrong server settings so in a way, having to solve this problem was good because it forced me to solve another one!

  35. Pepe says:

    it was VERY USEFUL. Thank you very much for the clear instructions.

  36. Susan says:

    Fantastic, thank you very much. Ants link does work with FF3.

  37. filoflin says:

    hey tony!great article indeed!i just have one question…can i redirect mails that were sent to my from different users..i redirected all my previous mails send from me but when i try to redirect a mail witch was sent from a different mail account i get this”An error occurred while sending mail. The mail server responded: Invalid From address – **** Please check the message and try again.” .. i hope you still read the posts from this article..thanks

  38. Tonny says:

    Hi filoflin, to be honest I’ve tried to recreate somehow the issue, but with my Thunder Bird everything is fine. You may try with older Thunder Bird version as there were several issues reported with v.3 one

  39. Sam says:

    Thank you so so so much! I have 1066 emails from the last 7 years which vanished off my hotmail account when I used ubuntu’s Evolution for the first time!!! I will give this a try, hopefully it will give the old timestamps. thank you!!

  40. Molly says:

    I’m having trouble getting the mailredirect add on to work. After I select the messages that I want to have redirected and open the mailredirect add on, the area at the bottom where it says “following mails will be redirected” remains empty. Can someone help me with this?

  41. Kim says:

    Hi, some help needed here. I am unable to install the mailredirect add-on introduced here – which version of firefox I should have? I’ve already tried with several versions (4.0 – 3.6.16 – 3.5. – 2.0)

    When I download the mentioned add-on from here, and try to install it. Firefox says that the add-on is not compatible with my firefox version (none of the previous…)

    My Thunderbird is latest 2.0 version. I would need help here… accidentally downloaded mails from the hotmail server and I want them back to the server from Thunderbird. e-mail’s are my life… ;) please help.

  42. Asbjorn says:

    >3000 mails deleted from hotmail web by Evolution (Ubuntu). I was not happy. But then I logged into hotmail on the web and found _all_ of the messages in the “deleted”-folder and they could be moved to the inbox again, took about 10 seconds.

  43. Eve says:

    Hi! Thanks for the info! But how do i keep the original headliner? Mine always says its from me!

  44. R.A. says:

    Thank you very much for helping me restore our customer’s e-mails! Where is the LOVE button?

  45. Ane says:

    Pleace help!

    I have Firefox 11.0 and mail redirect couldn’t instal….what to do?

  46. Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:

    The plugin is for Thunderbird. Just download it and install it from the mail client not from the browser.

  47. Leila says:

    Hi there,

    I followed the tutorial step by step but when it came to redirecting,I could not do it.I kept getting an error message:
    The message could not be sent because connecting to SMTP server failed. The server may be unavailable or refusing SMTP connections. Please verify that your SMTP server setting is correct and try again, or else contact your network admin.

    I have a yahoo account and I mistakenly imported all of the messages to outlook and desperately want them back.

    Please help!

    Thank you

    • Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:

      Hi Leila,

      The plugin is coherent with the current SMTP server settings in Tunderbird. Make sure the SMTP is correctly setup and try again.
      Post back here if you still have issues.

      • Leila says:

        Hi Anthony,

        THanks for your response, but how do I make sure the SMTP is correctly setup. I am not a techie person, so I will need some help with this, so if you have time,I would be very grateful if you could assist me with this

        Thanks a million

        • Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:


          The best way to test if SMTP is setup correctly is to try just send test message using Thunderbird with the same account you are trying to restore the mails from. If it is received fine then we can look for issue with the plugin, but in most cases it is because the mail-client is not correctly setup.

          • Leila says:

            Thanks Anthony

            I tried to send a test message using thunderbird, but the sending failed. I received the same message as the one I cited above.
            Where do we go from here?

  48. Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:

    If you have your mail setup in Oulook, you should be able to import the settings in Thunderbird to work from Tools – Import.
    Then the mail client will be set the same as Outlook and should work.
    If for some reason this is not possible, or not working, you have to open Tunderbird – Tools – Account Settings, and then at left to scroll to Outgoing Server (SMTP) – choose the account in right and click ‘Edit’. With your mail service provider you have to compare if you have the settings correctly set.

    Hopefully this will work for you :) If not you can always reply.

  49. Omkar Tapale says:

    The best thing you can do is:
    Just set another account with IMAP to your server and just move your downloaded mails to your INBOX of Account with IMAP.

    You require IMAP access.


  50. Haze says:

    Hi, I just tried this, it works. but gmail allows only 100 mail sent via IMAP or POP. I have around 200 plus mails that I need to transfer back. Do I have to wait a day?

  51. elettrella says:

    thank you so much for this tutorial.

    It took a lot of time (I had really many emails) but it worked perfecty well!!

    thank you for sharing your solution!!

    For once, I found a clear, simple tutorial where everything I did corresponded to what was suggested.

    thank you also for not using the usual wise techno-guy language the I-know-it-all kind, but being straight forward and understandable even by the thickest-headed the like of meeeeee!!

    I am very happy, let me say thank you once again.
    This was the only clear, simple no-tech-language

  52. Alex says:

    Messages come back but the sender is always ‘me’. It does not show the original sender’s name. It is basically like a forward, and it is very messy to locate some emails with all the senders’ being ‘me’. In your example you set uo the senders also as ‘me’, tha is why they come out right.
    any solution to that?

  53. Jane Kaufman says:

    Hi Anthony,

    You article is amazing but don’t want to chance anything so I don’t lose my life’s mails. I will explain my situation.

    1 Mail was hosted on and pulled down to Thunderbird client using IMAP on my PC, Samsung galaxy S4 push mail client and BlackBerry.
    2 I moved my web and mail hosting from to will not allow me to backup my mail (a punishment I think for leaving their ineffectual service)
    3 I can now view and receive mail normally to my accounts on and all is visible via webmail.
    4 But I now need to connect all the clients mentioned above to, but I am concerned that I will lose the mail I have on the Thunderbird client (which I effectively see as my master client).
    5 How can I send the mail on the Thunderbird client (originally from 1and1) back up to the servers, so I can see them on all clients, with the correct date stamp, sender etc, also any sub folders in the mailboxes?
    6 Just in case, I have done a profile backup of Thunderbird which I understand saves email also.

    I would love some direction from you as I am blind as a bat on this.

    Yours nervously Jane

    • Anthony Gee Anthony Gee says:

      Hey Jane,

      I presume moving from one hosting company to another is related to changing IP address both for the website and e-mail.
      The easiest way to move your e-mails from one mail server to another is to setup the mail using the IP address of the new mails server. So in thunderbird setup the mail box as another account using the IP address of the mail server as IMAP account. Then simply copy or move the messages from the old box to the new one. Once you have everything copied over – you can change the domain to point to the new IP.

  54. Astrid says:

    I know it’s been years since you posted this but it saved my life today because I forgot to enable “leave messages on server” in Outlook for an email account accessed/used by multiple people.
    Thank you!

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