How To Import Netscape Communicator 4 Messages Into Outlook

This is sort of a silly post. I was reading a book on John Newton, which was heavily based off his letters and journal entries. While nobody will ever care about my personal correspondence, I got an urge to look at some of the emails I was sending and receiving in my early days on the Internet.

I’ve carried an archive of my old Netscape messages for years. I wondered if I had a way to read them.

It turns out, there is. And that way is Outlook Express.

Because Outlook Express was the only way I could find to do this, I don’t have screenshots. I hope my disorganized ramblings can be of use to somebody else. Otherwise, I’m sure this post will get exactly as much traffic as the other 850 or so on my blog.

The problem I have is that my 2 main computers run Windows 7. Obviously, Outlook Express was discontinued when Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail were released. Neither will import from Netscape Communicator (part of the Netscape Navigator suite). Thunderbird, which I believe is a descendant of Netscape, will not import Netscape Communicator either.

I still have my Acer AspireOne netbook, piece of junk that it is. The keyboard stopped working a long time ago, and since my in-laws bought me a 15” HP laptop, the Acer has been one “I’m too lazy to take it” step from the trash pile.So I still had it. I copied the Netscape Communicator emails to my portable hard drive, and went to work.

Actually, I also have them on a synced folder with Windows Live Mesh, but in typical Microsoft fashion, when I went to install Mesh on my netbook, I got “this is not an installable file” or some typical bullcrap that I get from about 75% of the .exe files I try to download and install from Microsoft’s servers. Yes, I tried it twice, then rebooted and tried 2 more times. The problem was the file.

This process was simple, yet frustrating. I haven’t done anything with the netbook since the keyboard stopped working, so Windows XP had buttloads of updates to install, and since Microsoft hasn’t created a coherent updates scheme, I had to work around several batches of update files.

I fired up Outlook Express, which had never been used. I stopped using OE after I graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2007.

Side note, my Blogger blog is somehow considered an authority on University of Phoenix matters. Even though I don’t use it anymore and all of the posts from there are here, somehow UOP students searching for ways to make Thunderbird work with UOP newsgroups keep landing on my blog.

Once Outlook Express was started, I selected File-> Import. Netscape Communicator was among the file formats. I selected that, directed it to the directory on my portable hard drive, and let it rip.

I won’t bore you with details of trying to get the messages OUT of Outlook Express. The easiest way to do it was to configure OE to use my gmail account through IMAP. Then I created a new folder (label in gmail) and copied all of the messages to it. Later, I’ll sort through them in gmail or in Outlook on my laptop.

Assuming anybody actually reads this, or cares, or is even curious why I want to read an email archive from 1997-2001, lets just say morbid curiosity. My mom passed away in 2006, and I realized that I might have had some email during that time period from her since it was before I got married, so I was lonely and had a lot more time to email my mom. During the brief digging I did, I found the first emails my wife and I sent to each other when we first met. I found some good jokes from back in the days when I collected them. I forgot, but during one period around 1999, I subscribed to an email that sent me jokes every day. Such a service is not needed anymore, but one entire email could have provided enough fodder for Fail Blog for a week. I’m sure I’ll also find a treasure trove of bad jokes and chain emails.

This also brought back some memories. I can remember when Netscape was the best browser around, even though it stalled constantly. Still, it didn’t suck as bad as Internet Exploder. I almost feel bad for Microsoft in the “Browser Wars”. They’ve made some giant stride forward in IE, but it still seems like every IE update, they’re 2 years behind. IE is considered to be the best way to download Firefox (or Chrome, my current favorite browser), but at one point, every time I had to reformat and reinstall Windows 95, the ONLY thing I used IE for was to download Netscape.

I’m surprised I haven’t deleted more email. Prior to the roll-out of gmail, which started with the motto “Never delete another email”, or something similar, most of us had storage limitations and had to delete email. I’ve been on gmail since early 2005, and have about 60,000 emails on it, and I’m at 36% of capacity. And I’m a lightweight by many standards.

This exercise is over, and my netbook is back in the “should I throw it away” pile. If you have old Netscape Communicator email archives you want to access, better do it before Windows XP (and Outlook Express) are gone forever.

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One Response

  1. […] See the original post here: How To Import Netscape Communicator 4 Messages Into Outlook « The … […]

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