Messed up Thunderbird folders – sharks circling

We’ve all done it – messed up something so badly while trying to do something clever we’d sell our first-born just to get back to where we were (see And if we succeed at merely restoring the status quo, we’re pitifully grateful.

It all started with trying to find some lost photos that Shotwell couldn’t find the originals of. Presumably they had been linked to only and then the originals deleted leaving only the reference and the thumbnail behind. So here was the plan:

  1. Identify all email attachments which are images
  2. See if any of them have the same name as the missing images
  3. Open email based on date and sender to recover image

The good news is the plan worked for lots of the missing photos. Thanks to Python3, import mailbox, and import email. The bad news was when I opened Thunderbird the next day. The folder I had been working on was missing. So in addition to my missing photos I also had seemingly lost 1.8GB of emails.

tldr; 1) Close TB; 2) rename the missing folder in your file system and delete the .msf version; 3) Open TB; 4) Close TB; restore original name; 5) Open TB – success? Inspired by

Now back to the original problem. But I should probably run a full backup first.