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Please read this page in its entirety before performing an address book conversion and import!

We are finding that on some PC's, the user's old email address books are either:

  • Not importing at all into Thunderbird at all OR

  • Are importing into Thunderbird, but the user's private distribution lists are not there.

UNIT has developed a web-based script that will fix this problem by converting the user's old Personal Address Book (and other address books) - which have *.na2 (Netscape 4.x) and *.mab (Netscape 7.x and Thunderbird) extensions into *.ldif files which can then be imported into Thunderbird's Address Book.

Before you get started:

The first thing you must do before beginning this process is to turn on all Hidden Files on the user's machine. To do this:

  1. Open My Computer.

  2. Click Tools, Folder Options.

  3. Click the View tab.

  4. Down below under the Advanced Settings, under Hidden Files and Folders, select "Show hidden files and folders." It may be a good idea to also uncheck "Hide extensions for known file types."

  5. Click OK.

Filenames of Netscape and Thunderbird Personal Address Books:

  • In Netscape, the default Personal Address book file is called PAB.NA2 (4.x) or PAB.MAB (7.x).

  • In Thunderbird, the default Personal Address Book file is called ABOOK.MAB or IMPAB.MAB.

  • Users may also have created other address books, which also will have the .na2 or .mab extensions on them.

  • The global LDAP directories, such as the Villanova, Villanova Faculty/Staff, and Villanova Distribution Lists, also have these extensions, but cannot be converted and imported using this tool. They must be reinstalled through Thunderbird (call Helpdesk).

Locations of Netscape and Thunderbird Personal Address Books:

All address book files should have been moved over to the following location during the PC Refresh:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\profilename

Go to that folder and locate all .NA2 and .MAB files in that folder (excluding global LDAP directories and HISTORY.MAB). Make a note of all the address book files, the file sizes, the dates, and their locations. The largest file with the most recent date should be the user's old personal address book.

If you cannot locate any of these files there, look for them in C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\username.

Important Note about Address Books in Thunderbird

Once you convert a user's old address book file (.na2 or .mab) into an .ldif file (using the conversion tool below), you will then import the ldif file into the user's current Thunderbird address book. Thunderbird already has a built-in address bookcalled Personal Address Book and the filename in the user's profile is called either ABOOK.MAB or IMPAB.MAB.

Address Books that are imported will NOT import into the user's existing Personal Address Book, but will be created as an alternate address book. Therefore, if you are importing the user's old Personal Address Book, they will end up with two Personal Address Books: 1) the first one will be Thunderbird's built-in Personal Address Book, which cannot be deleted or renamed; 2) the other one will be the imported Personal Address Book.

Because you cannot delete Thunderbird's default Personal Address Book, the user will become very confused and frustrated by having two Personal Address Books. Thunderbird is not as flexible as Netscape in that, although it will allow you to move address book cards from one address book to another, it will not allow you move distribution lists between address books.

Therefore, you will need to follow the directions at the bottom of this page to replace the default Thunderbird Personal Address Book with the newly-imported address book. Directions for doing this are at the bottom of this page. If your user ends up with two Personal Address Books, please be sure to follow these steps to fix the problem.

Performing the Address Book Conversion

Once you locate the user's .na2 and .mab files:

  1. Go to http://pab2ldif.villanova.edu/ and follow the steps below.

  2. Click Browse... and locate the user's first address book (if there is more than one).

  3. Double-click the user's address book file and then click Begin Address Book Conversion.

  1. You will see the screen below, telling you that the conversion is in progress. Please be patient... There really is no reason to click the "Click here" link. Just wait a moment until the conversion is finished.


  1. When the conversion is done, you will be asked if you want to Open or Save the file, as in the screen print below. Click Save.

  1. When the Save as... window appears:

  • Select Desktop in the Save in... section.

  • Leave the file File name as is.

  • Change the Save as type: section to All Files - THIS IS IMPORTANT!

  • Click Save.

  • The *.ldif file should be saved to your Desktop.

  • Repeat this process with all user-created .pab and .mab files in the user's directory, but do not do the Villanova directories with .na2 files.

  1. Now to import the .ldif file into the user's Thunderbird address book:

  • Open Thunderbird. If you don't know the user's password, click Cancel at the password dialog box. You can get into the address book without a password.

  • Click Tools and select Address Book.

  • There is no need to select a particular address book to do the import into. Thunderbird will import the .ldif file as it's own address book.

  • Click Tools and select Import.

  • Select Address Book from the list. Click Next.

  • Select Text File (.ldif, .tab, .csv, .txt) from the list. Click Next.

  • Locate the converted *.ldif file that you saved to the Desktop and click it once to select it. Click Open.

  • Wait for the import to finish. Click Finish when it is done.

  • You will be brought back to the Address Book and will see the new address book there (it may be called Personal Address Book or it may have another name). See the next section for directions on how to make this new address book the default address book for the user.

  • Repeat the process above to import all of the user's other address books (NOT LDAP directories).

Making the Newly-Imported Personal Address Book the Default Personal Address Book

Now that you have imported the user's old address book, you will notice that there are two address books, one called Personal Address Book (which should be empty) and the newly-imported address book, which may be called Personal Address Book or it may have another name.

Verify that the newly-imported address book has all of the user's personal distribution lists in it (if they had any).

To make the newly-imported Personal Address Book the default address book, you must follow these steps:

  • Close the Address Book and close out of Thunderbird completely.

  • Open My Computer and drill down to C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\profilename (where profilename is the user's profile, which is a combination of letters and numbers). If there is more than one profile, click View, Details and find the profile with the most recent date). That is the user's profile.

  • Locate the abook.mab file (which is the Thunderbird default Personal Address Book) and rename it abook.old.

  • Now locate the newly-imported .mab file, which may be called impab.mab or impab-1.mab or abook-1.mab. It may also be called something else with an .mab extension (click View, Details to see the date stamp on these files so you can locate the most recent - and probably the larges - mab file).

  • Rename this file to abook.mab.

  • Go back into Thunderbird and open the Address Book. The Personal Address Book should now include the user's old Personal Address Book entries.

  • Once you are sure the Personal Address Book includes all the user's old entries and lists, you can then delete the other address book.

If you have problems, please contact the Helpdesk @ 9-7777 or send an e-mail to support@villanova.edu.


Updated: 07/06/2005