How to convert Micosoft Outlook .msg files

The hatred that I have toward Microsoft is a screaming inferno that wells from the core of my body and projects outward through the cosmos. The heat of this burning anger is not decreased when I am faced with a proprietary Microsoft format that uses the company’s illegal software monopoly to lock out all competition. In this case, I found myself in a position where I had to convert Outlook’s .msg files into something that the rest of the world can read.

After a little googling, I found that if one had the emails in Outlook on a Windows machine, then Thunderbird could import them directly. So I figured all I had to do was load the .msg files into Outlook, use Thunderbird to import them, then get them into mbox format. Using Outlook Express 6, there seemed to be no way to load them into Microsoft’s little virus vector. Double-clicking one of the .msg files would open it for viewing, and it appeared that one could subsequently save the message to an Outlook folder, but I could not find a way to do it en masse. I also had a password-protected .pst file, but I managed to get nowhere with that.

At this point I was fuming. I thought Microsoft’s products were supposed to all work wonderfully with each other. Did I need to pay $500 dollars or whatever for a non-“Express” version of Outlook which contained the needed funtionality? The intuitively obvious File -> Import did not allow one to select files… did I miss some option hidden away in Microsoft’s idiot-proof, user-friendly software?

I asked a friend for help. Claiming that his “google-fu” was superior to my own, he quickly proved the point by finding a perl program called written by Matijs van Zuijlen. Once I installed the program’s dependent modules, I was converting .msg files left and right. Running the conversion, I got lots of warning messages like:

  • This MSG file contains Unicode fields. This is currently unsupported.
  • Unknown property 10F3
  • foo_email.msg must be an OLE file at ../ line 732.

Despite these messages, I was able to create an mbox file that appeared to be valid. I managed to load the file into Thunderbird using the technique described here. Basically, Thunderbird does not explicitly have a way to import mbox files, but simply closing Thunderbird, dropping an mbox file into your “Local Folders” folder, and starting Thunderbird will give you what you want. Viewing the emails, I found they looked pretty good – formatting was a bit weird in places, but everything else seemed fine, including attachments.

So in the end, Microsoft can take all their .msg files, crush them up into a nice big wad, and cram it.

This entry was posted in HOW-TOs, Linux, Micro$oft. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to How to convert Micosoft Outlook .msg files

  1. Eric says:

    The was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the link! I don’t want to spend $100 for the privilege of looking at .msg files. I use Fedora Core 6 and it’s working beautifully.

  2. Flavio says:

    Do you have any clues about what I could do to get my MSG files converted into EML (at least)?

    Write me please…

  3. theoden says:

    I haven’t tried this, but you could first convert the .msg files to mbox format using Once you have the mbox file, you could use IMAPSize to convert mbox to eml files. I’ve never used IMAPSize, but this link looks useful.

  4. aquasync says:

    EML files are just standard rfc822, ie, the same as the contents of mbox files. I believe msgconvert outputs it directly.

    Another more recent (and higher fidelity) converter is part of my “ruby-msg” package, which is quite easy to use –

  5. samstreak says:

    did you try dragging the .msg file into one of your folders in Outlook express, or renaming .msg to .eml and then dragging it into OE?

  6. theoden says:

    Just drag the files in there? This isn’t OS X, man! Anyway, hopefully I would have tried something like that, but in my blind frustration I may not have. I definitely did not try renaming the file extensions. Thankfully one can bypass windows entirely with these perl and ruby converters.

  7. bill says:

    My situation — I use gmail for personal mail and am on a corporate desktop with MS Outlook. Received a message with a .msg attachment. MS Outlook is locked down and would not let me open it. Renamed it to .eml, double click and Outlook Express appeared on my screen ready to open and display the message. Thanks to this page and the comments for the idea to rename to .eml

  8. xia says:

    Too bad I didn’t find this page before. I finally managed to convert from Outlook by importing emails to Incredimail and then to eml format using Incredimail Backup Pro.

  9. Pingback: Outlook .msg file bekijken op een Mac | hilpers

  10. Elbert Branscomb says:

    Looking for help on .msg file conversion (very large number of files to process).

    My system is a Dual-Core AMD Opteron running up-to-date (except for the kernel) x86_64 Gentoo Linux; Kernel: 2.6.25-gentoo-r7. Have perl-5.8.8-r5, ruby-1.8.7_p16, and rubygems-1.3.3. seems to process most .msg files (work in thunderbird just fine) but does not recover header information (??); a ‘fatal’ failing for my purposes.

    The ruby-msg-1.4.0 tool ‘mapitool’ fails on most of the .msg files I have tried (though has worked with some but not all files on a friend’s windows box). Typical error message for me is:
    “ruby-msg-1.4.0/bin/../lib/mapi/convert/note-mime.rb:90:in `populate_headers’: undefined method `empty?’ for nil:NilClass (NoMethodError)”

    I have been unable to find useful help on the web, or a relevant forum/group. I can hack perl a little; ruby not at all. Advice/guidance?



  11. theoden says:

    Elbert, unfortunately I was simply using as a magical black box – haven’t looked at the source code nor researched the details of the .msg file format. Perhaps you could try emailing the author?

  12. dave says:

    Just go to the folder with the .msg files, select all, then drag and drop into an outlook folder. (you might have to hover over the program in the bottom start bar then over the outlook mail folders)

  13. Pingback: Importing .eml into .msg or mbox « Spiral of Hope

  14. bob says:

    I had my computer stolen, which had Outlook Express. My new computer has 64 bit Vista. I have received a about 100 old emails that I sent and/or received that were forwarded to me so I could rebuild my email conversations, but the files are in msg and all of the downloads I’ve tried to open the emails are stumped by the 64 bit vista. Is there a way to open these msg emails in 64 bit vista? Thanx, bob

  15. theoden says:

    As long as you have Outlook installed on your Vista system, I would think that you should be able to view the .msg files. Several of the commenters here have suggested that you can simply drag and drop the .msg files into Outlook.

  16. Charlotte Saint Jean says:

    Hi Theoden

    I have been reading some of the messages regarding msg files – I am not a techie so any response will need to be simple to follow – and I get the fgist of what you are doing but my problem is….I am trying to transfer my contacts from Microsoft Outlook 2000 which was installed on XP to my new computer which does not have outlook (as I didn’t want to pay the massive amount for the office pro package) so that I can use my contacts on the new pc which has windows vista and Office 2007 with windows mail on it. I[ve tried to sync my palm with this new pc to retreave some of the contacts – no joy! and have also tried to downlood one of the free download packages to convert msg files but it says it doesn’t work with a 64 bit system only a 32 bit….I have copied all the contact files over via an external hardrive into the contacts file of the new pc but can’t open them as msg is not read by this new pc….help!

    Greatly appreciate any simple advice poss. to avoid me spending hours manually inputting the data!

  17. theoden says:

    Charlotte: if all you’re doing is transferring contacts, then this should be relatively simple. Here is a website describing how to export your contacts from Outlook 2000:

    Once you have them exported to a file, you should be able to copy that file to your new computer and import it into Outlook 2007. This link describes the import process:

    Hope that helps!

  18. fran says:

    PLEASE PLEASE HELP THIS GRANDMOTHER. I recently retired and when I did I copied thousands of my emails at work into flash drives to put on my computer at home, never knowing anything about .msg, .txt, or .htm. I just copied them. When I attemped to put them on my computer at home which is Outlook Express (my computer at work was Outlook), all the messages showed up as .msg. files and would not open. My husband is seriously ill and there are so many emails on there with medical information that I need. No one seems to be able to give me step by step instructions so that I can open these emails.


  19. theoden says:

    Sorry to hear about your situation, Fran. Have you tried dragging and dropping the .msg files into Outlook Express? If that doesn’t work, then you could go to Best Buy or any computer store and purchase the MS Office suite which will contain the full version of Outlook. It’s certainly not a cheap solution, but might be the easiest for you.

  20. Nandiraju says:

    Recently, I purchased a MACbook Pro and also purchased Office for MAC 2011 version. To my surprise, the same does not open the .msg files. Hence had to use the mail rider program (lucky to get to it through Google). However, can some one tell me, where was the mistake that I had committed. Same programs for different platforms from the same vendor, do not open their own patented formats. It sounds ridiculous, but can anybody help me in this please. Spent huge sums on the Office 2011 but factually the same is not to be of much help just money loss.

  21. vooksoftware says:

    Hi, Thanks for sharing this helpful and useful information.

    I suggest you can also try VOOK MSG to PST Converter allows to bulk convert MSG to PST to import MSG files to Outlook. It is the safest converter tool for the conversion of MSG Files to PST Format.

    I hope this will be beneficial and helpful for you.

    More Info,Visit Here

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