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I marked my Sent folder to be used in offline mode, and asked the messages to be downloaded. I saw the status bar show my messages being downloaded.

But I can't figure out where the messages were stored.

My profile folder doesn't have any new files, nor any that start with the word Sent:

~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/l5z5ge4s.default/Mail# ls -l Local\ Folder
# Nothing here named Sent.msf, or Sent.sbd

Where should I look for my downloaded messages?

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I'd say you are looking at the right place.

I've configured Thunderbird to use IMAP to sync with Gmail. In that scenario, my sent emails are located at

/Users/<username>/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<randomcharacters>.default/ImapMail/imap.googlemail.com/\[Gmail\].sbd/Sent\ Mail

This SuperUser answer has a screenshot which shows how to look up the location for a particular account:

enter image description here

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