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Different Ways to Read MBOX Files — List of Top Ways

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In this article, we will explain various ways to read MBOX files with easy-to-understand steps. We also explain their benefits and drawbacks so that it becomes easy to choose according to your needs.

First, let's introduce the MBOX file format. In today’s world, users send or receive a tonne of emails to each other. And to manage those emails, many file formats are created to store your email messages securely. Among those file formats, MBOX files are the ones that store multiple emails in one place. Which makes it easier to save and manage your data. So, the MBOX file is used to store all your email messages associated with contacts, calendars, and attachments.

Before using the MBOX file, keep in mind that the size of the file cannot be exceeded by 2 GB. That will cause you various problems, like being unable to access the file, file corruption, etc., so pay attention when you are storing emails in the file.

Different Ways to Read MBOX Files

MBOX files are used in many email programs, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail, etc. On the other hand, MBOX files store the data in plain text format, meaning that you can view the content of the file in the text editor. However, if you have not installed the program and want to do a detailed analysis of the file, then software is a better option. The software allows you to view your file in different preview modes, and you can directly see the data without opening the file. Therefore, here, we discuss four methods to view MBOX file.

  1. View the file in Thunderbird.

  2. For Mac users, you can read in Apple Mail.

  3. See the content of the file in the text editor.

  4. Use software to view the MBOX file without any problems.

We explain these methods one by one, so follow the next section of the article properly.

Method 1: View MBOX Data Files using Thunderbird

Thunderbird is a free email client that uses addons to import or export the data in the program. So, before using this method, we have to install Import/Export Tools NG. Then you have to open the file and read the content in it.

  1. To download the add-in, go to the Tools option.

  2. Click on the extensions option and select Add on.

  3. Now search for import/export tools and Add to Thunderbird.

  4. Go to the Thunderbird program and click on the Tools option.

  5. Select Import/Export, and then Import.

  6. Click on the Import directly option and set the location where your file is. Click OK.

After that, you can go to the inbox where your files are. Click on the files and view the content of your emails. This method is easy and one of the ways to read MBOX files; however, there is one major drawback: you cannot view attachments using it.

Method 2: Open the MBOX File in Apple Mail

If you have a file on the Mac system, this method is applicable. Apple Mail is a free email client for Apple-based devices. It is only used in MacOS, iOS, watchOS, etc.

  1. Open Apple Mail on your system. Click on the File option.

  2. Select the Import Mailboxes option, and then click on Files in MBOX format.

  3. Browse the location where your files are and click Continue.

  4. After that, go to the files where it was imported and view them.

This method is only applicable if you are using Mac programs and have an MBOX file.

Method 3: View MBOX Data Files in a Text Editor

MBOX files contain data in plain text format, so if you have not installed any programs, you can use this way to read MBOX files. Download any text editor compatible with your computer.

  1. Go to the place where your MBOX file is located.

  2. Right-click on the file and select the Text Editor option.

  3. Now, your file is open in the program, and you can view all the content in the file.

Limitations of Manual Ways

All the methods we use now are free and manual. These methods can be useful according to your needs. But with these benefits, there are also drawbacks to the methods.

  1. You cannot view multiple files at the same time. You have to open emails one by one, which takes more time.

  2. Some of the methods do not display attachments with the file.

  3. If your file has some problems, then you cannot use these methods.

  4. There are chances that you can lose the data in the file during the process.

These are some common demerits you can encounter when using these methods. However, there is another method you can use to overcome the limitations.

Method 4: Professional Ways to Read MBOX Files

In this case, we use the MBOX File Reader Wizard provided by FreeViewer to read your file without using the email program. The file is used to view multiple files at the same time without affecting the data. It allows users to view complete emails with attachments. Users can also use this method even if it is corrupted or orphaned. The software provides many amazing features as well.

Features of Software

  1. You can easily view MBOX files from Thunderbird or Google Takeout programs.

  2. The software provides different preview modes, like HTML, MIME, RTF, etc.

  3. It also allows users to read the file in HEX mode.

  4. You can scan your MBOX file for any issues while you open it.

  5. Users install this software in all Windows OS versions.

Steps to View MBOX Data Files

  1. Download and launch the software.

  2. Click on Add File and select the MBOX file. Click on Select File(s)/folder from the file system.

  3. Browse the location where your file is, and click on the Process button.

  4. Now, your file is displayed on the screen. Click on the emails one by one to see the content of the file.


There are various ways to read MBOX files available. That’s why, in this article, we explain all those methods in detail, which makes it easier for you to understand. The methods we explain have their own pros and cons. So read them carefully before you use any one of them.

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