Making old e-mails useful again

posted Sep 19, 2013, 10:38 AM by Niels Jensen
For almost a decade from 1996 to 2005 one of os - Niels - used first JStreet Mailer and later Polarbar Mailer for all e-mail. I was an interesting experience first with the intensive communication on the beta-list while the first product was in beta, and later when a group of volunteers acquired the rights to the code and continued development of the Polarbar Mailer. The last version 1.25a can still be downloaded from

Both these applications stored each e-mail as a separate file in a folder hierarchy created by the user.  Unfortunate these pop-files cannot be directly imporated in modern e-mail clients, like KMail. Fortunately the structure of the pop-files are equivalent. to elm-files. Except, that during some periods the files used the X-DateReceived header in place of just Date in the sent folder. This header must be manually edited in order for the sent e-mails to display the correct date. So after changing the file-name extension and editing a few headers the e-mails can be imported in a KMail folder.

The import filter use the same folder name, at the original folder, but with the prefix PLAIN-. This prefix is a bit misleading. I discovered, that KMail displayed character based smileys as graphical smileys after the import, and also showed icons for attachments. However, this only if the user had elected to store attachments in-line.

The in-line versus off-line storage of attachment was an option introduced by the Polarbar Mailer team to cut down on start-up time, since Polarbar Mailer scanned each e-mail at start-up in order to generate the information for the graphical user interface.

Most of the old e-mails have little or no use, but a few contained registration information for different programs acquired during the last few years of the previous century. You can also get the old e-mail to your GMail account by creating some temporary folders om your GMail account, and copying e-mails to that folder in your KMail account.