Importing Thunderbird contacts to Gmail – without Thunderbird

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Today I had an interesting task to complete. My father, who used to use Thunderbird for his mail client, has switched to Gmail. The reason was, well, that his computer got crowded with trojans and viruses so he re-installed his Windows OS. The swich to Gmail was a success, except for the contacts. They have stayed in the old Thunderbird account that was deleted during re-installation of Windows.

His new installation didn’t include Thunderbird and I didn’t plan installing it. I had to find another solution for the import.

I used VNC to connect to his computer, and tried to find a address book file in his backups. He makes a backup when I come visit and make it, so the backups weren’t really fresh. The other problem was that they’re very selective – one day we backup pictures, the next day (read: the next year) we backup documents, the next mail and so on. I was lucky to find a backup of a whole Thunderbird account made by MozBackup – a pcv file. It’s basically a zip file, so I opened it with Total Commander (CTRL + Page Down opens archives with different file extensions), navigated to abook.mab and extracted it.

I was a step closer to getting the contacts I wanted, but Gmail doesn’t support importing mab files to contacts. I surfed the web and found a useful program for converting all kinds of contact and address book files: Dawn. Pretty useful software and designed just for my needs. I opened the mab file (note that you have to select Pine Address Book as an input format) and exported it as ordinary CSV. This step was successful for the first time. All I had to do was change special Slovenian characters, because they were somehow lost, probably in the conversion which may not be UTF-8 compliant.

All I had to do next was send the file to my fathers computer and import it into his Gmail contacts. another task that I finished with great success.