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An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 01, 2013 01:52PM
An MBOX viewer? Read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?

Hi everyone,

I started archiving mail from Apple Mail in MBOX format so I can reduce how much space I’m using on my email provider’s IMAP server. So far, so good. However, I’d like to be able to view the mboxes without importing them into an email client. Some of the mbox files are huge - we’re talking nearly a gig in some cases - so viewing them in a text editor is cumbersome to the extreme.

Anyone know of a package that will allow me to view the contents of the MBOX as if it’s an email client but without having to actually import them? No need to be able to send or receive email. Just view the contents of the files. At this point, the only idea I’ve come up with is to use a different email program, create an account in it (leaving all of the mail server and such settings blank) and then import the contents of the files as locallly stored folders.

The 3rd party mail program method will likely work and provide easy access to the files along with solid searching and such. I just wanted to avoid importing them into a mail program and/or putting the files into a proprietary mail database.

Is there such a thing as a MBOX viewer that allows you to view/read/search the contents of MBOXes? If not, I’ll go with the 3rd party email program method.

Suggestions will be much appreciated.

Robert
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: MEG
Date: May 01, 2013 02:39PM
A friend uses and recommends mail steward pro for email archiving. Takes the mbox file and imports it into a mysql db keeping the attachments and all the meta data. Looking at the site it apparently comes in a Lite, regular and Pro version.

[www.mailsteward.com]

EDIT - Looks like there's a free version that will let you archive up to 15,000 emails to test it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2013 02:41PM by MEG.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: btfc
Date: May 01, 2013 02:42PM
TextEdit
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 01, 2013 02:53PM
Hi Meg and btfc,

Thanks for the suggestions. Mailseward sounds nifty but I don't think it's going to do the job. If I'm going to import the data into a database, I may as well just import the files into alternate mail client. I'm trying to avoid that. I'd like to view them in their original file format without importing them into anything. Just open the app, open the file, view it as if the mail is in a email client, quite when done. A text editor will access the files but it's cumbersome at best and many don't like dealing with mboxes that are nearly a gig in size. That's why I'm looking for a different solution.

Thanks,

Robert
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: May 01, 2013 03:00PM
Not having used IMAP for very long, I'm not clear on the problem...
Could you not copy the messages to a mailbox "on my mac", and delete the copies on the IMAP server?
Keeping a copy in your Mail, but having it removed from the server?



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: MEG
Date: May 01, 2013 03:36PM
Quote
Paul F.
Not having used IMAP for very long, I'm not clear on the problem...
Could you not copy the messages to a mailbox "on my mac", and delete the copies on the IMAP server?
Keeping a copy in your Mail, but having it removed from the server?

Doh! Yeah, what he said.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 01, 2013 04:01PM
Paul,

The reason I don't want to do that is because we're talking tens of thousands of emails. It makes Apple Mail crawl. So, I figured I'd remove them from Mail (and the mail server) and leave them as files and access them on an as necessary basis. I still haven't found any app that'll do what I'm looking to do. So, I'll likely just import them into a different mail client. That way, I'll have the mboxes and access to the mail in the mail program, too.

Thanks to all for the suggestions!

Robert
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: May 01, 2013 04:19PM
OK.. that makes sense.

My personal way to deal with it would be to delete some mail... grinning smiley



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Speedy
Date: May 01, 2013 10:10PM
Quote
Robert M
It makes Apple Mail crawl

Or Mail on a fast Mac with an SSD.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2013 10:10PM by Speedy.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: May 01, 2013 10:55PM
If the MBOX "files" (folders) have been saved to a directory that Spotlight indexes, you can probably search through them conveniently via Spotlight in a saved Finder sidebar search.

I just tried it.

Works great!

Easy to browse and easy to view via QuickLook.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 02, 2013 07:39AM
Chak,

Good idea. I tried that, too. But, it's like accessing the messages via a text editor. Cumbersome. I'm going to import the MBOXes into an alternate email client and be done with it.

Robert
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: May 02, 2013 05:35PM
Quote
Robert M
Chak,

Good idea. I tried that, too. But, it's like accessing the messages via a text editor. Cumbersome. I'm going to import the MBOXes into an alternate email client and be done with it.

Not sure why you think it's clunky. I found it slicker than Apple Mail. I think I'm gonna archive all my old emails this way.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 03, 2013 11:49AM
Chak,

I assumed Quicklook would allow me to view the MBOX file(s), just like it does in a text editor. Just tried it and all it does is bring up a picture of the folder or the file itself. You can't look at the actual contents of the MBOX file. That definitely doesn't work for me.

Robert
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: May 03, 2013 06:59PM
Quote
Robert M
Chak,

I assumed Quicklook would allow me to view the MBOX file(s), just like it does in a text editor. Just tried it and all it does is bring up a picture of the folder or the file itself. You can't look at the actual contents of the MBOX file. That definitely doesn't work for me.

What OS are you running?

In 10.8.3, I see the whole nicely-formatted message with styled-text and such.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 04, 2013 07:15AM
Chak,

Same OS. Are you looking at a single message in a file or an MBOX filled with thousands of messages? I'm looking at an MBOX with thousands of messages.

Robert



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2013 07:15AM by Robert M.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: May 04, 2013 12:49PM
Don't look at the messages. Don't bother opening an MBOX folder.

Put the MBOX folders together in another folder and use Spotlight to search the parent folder. You can search by any text in the messages or by date or by any of the other Spotlight criteria.

Your messages will appear in the search results, which you can easily organize by subject or date. Use QuickLook to view any message that turns up in the search-results. Browse through messages in QuickLook by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Once you try it, you'll wonder why everyone doesn't do this.
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Robert M
Date: May 05, 2013 09:37AM
Chak,

Still doesn't work. It just list the single MBOX file that contains the text, not the individual messages in the file. I checked the Spotlight settings and it didn't offer any options for listing the messages themselves.

Robert
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: Izzy
Date: October 23, 2013 11:40AM
I know this thread is a little old, but I was trying to do something similar. My solution was to use Mozilla's Thunderbird email client.

Here's a link explaining how to get Thunderbird to read/use a local mbox files... but basically install thunderbird, find the directory that it uses for local mail, and move as many mbox files as you want there.

[commons.lbl.gov]
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Re: An MBOX viewer? (read that as view MBOX files without importing them into an email client?)
Posted by: k9gardner
Date: June 03, 2014 02:42PM
This is an oldish thread, but I came to it today looking for alternatives to what I'm about to provide here. It seems that at least a few others are in the same boat as I was, and outside of reloading the mbox files into a mail program, nobody's offering anything.

There is an alternative text editor though - UltraEdit - which I used to use in the Windows world, and it totally rocks with large files (multi-GB). It is now also available for the Mac.

Instead of loading the entire file into memory like BBEdit does, UltraEdit allows you to load only sections at a time into memory, sort of scrolling through the file. When you reach the end of the data loaded into memory, it dumps what's at the other end and loads more data. (Of course I'm not giving a technical explanation of what's going on under the covers, I don't know. I'm just describing the observable behavior).
You can control how much memory is dedicated to the files, which kind of sets the width of your "window" into the data file.

An email correspondence with the company (IDM Computer Solutions Inc) several years ago told me that the Mac version works the same way, but I had never used the Mac version until now. I've just downloaded it - actually leveraging my initial investment in the Windows version of the product with upgrade pricing after all these years, and having the ability to install and activate both Windows and Mac versions at the same time - and it works. For example, I've just opened an 800MB file, some 10 million lines of data from an mbox file, performed a substring search and found all 104 occurrences in 20-25 seconds.

This program does ~not~ provide the ability to preview images in stream, so far as I know, it just shows the base64 encoded data. There may be some way to preview, I'm not sure.

Seems like it will solve my problem, anyway… what about yours?!
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