Thunderbird

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Thunderbird is an open source email, news, and chat client previously developed by the Mozilla Foundation.

Installation

Install the thunderbird package, with a language pack if required.

Other versions include:

  • Thunderbird Beta — Cutting edge features with relatively-good stability.
https://www.thunderbird.net/channel/ || thunderbird-beta-binAUR
  • Thunderbird Earlybird — Experience the newest innovations as they're developed (equivalent to an alpha and Firefox Aurora releases).
https://www.thunderbird.net/channel/ || thunderbird-earlybirdAUR
  • Thunderbird Nightly — Experience the newest innovations with nightly releases (for those that want to work with breakages).
https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/thunderbird/nightly/latest-comm-central/ || thunderbird-nightlyAUR

A version overview, both past and future, can be read on MozillaWiki:Releases.

Securing

  • Thunderbird sends your system's internal IP address to the configured SMTP server as an argument to the HELO/ELHO SMTP command. This value can be overridden by setting mail.smtpserver.default.hello_argument to, for example, localhost. Setting this value may increase the spam score of messages you send. See [1] and [2].
  • Thunderbird disables email images by default but enables HTML rendering which may expose IP address and location. To disable this click View > Message Body As > Plain Text.
  • JavaScript is disabled for message content but not for RSS news feeds. To disable set javascript.enabled to false in the #Config Editor.

Extensions

  • Enigmail — Extension for writing and receiving email signed and/or encrypted with the OpenPGP standard.
https://www.enigmail.net || thunderbird-extension-enigmail, thunderbird-enigmail-gitAUR
  • TorBirdy — Extension that configures Thunderbird to make connections over the Tor anonymity network
TorBirdy AMO ||
  • Birdtray — Birdtray is a system tray new mail notification for Thunderbird 60+ which does not require extensions. Run Thunderbird with a system tray icon.
https://github.com/gyunaev/birdtray || birdtrayAUR
  • FireTray — Adds a customizable system tray icon for Thunderbird
FireTray AMO ||
https://www.thunderbird.net/en-US/calendar/ ||
  • SOGo Connector — Lets you sync address books via CardDAV
https://sogo.nu/download.html#/frontends || thunderbird-sogo-connector-binAUR
  • Cardbook — A new addressbook for Thunderbird based on the CARDDav and VCARD standards.
Cardbook AMO ||

Tips and tricks

Config Editor

Thunderbird can be extensively configured by clicking Edit > Preferences > Advanced > General > Config Editor.

Set the default browser

Note: Since version 24 the network.protocol-handler.app.* keys have no effect and will not be able to set the default browser.

Thunderbird uses the default browser as defined by the XDG MIME Applications. This is commonly modified by desktop environments (for example GNOME's Control Center: Details > Default Applications > Web).

This can be overridden with network.protocol-handler.warn-external in the #Config Editor

If the following is all set to false (default), set them to true and Thunderbird will ask you which application to use when you click on a link (remember to also check "Remember my choice for .. links").

network.protocol-handler.warn-external.ftp
network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http
network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https

Plain Text mode and font uniformity

Plain Text mode lets you view all your emails without HTML rendering and is available in View > Message Body As. This defaults to the Monospace font but the size is still inherited from original system fontconfig settings. The following example will overwrite this with Ubuntu Mono of 10 pixels (available in: ttf-ubuntu-font-family).

Remember to run fc-cache -fv to update system font cache. See Font configuration for more information.

~/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<fontconfig>
  <match target="pattern">
    <test qual="any" name="family"><string>monospace</string></test>
    <edit name="family" mode="assign" binding="same"><string>Ubuntu Mono</string></edit>
    <!-- For Thunderbird, lowering default font size to 10 for uniformity -->
    <edit name="pixelsize" mode="assign"><int>10</int></edit>
  </match>
</fontconfig>

Webmail with Thunderbird

See upstream Wiki: Using webmail with your email client.

Migrate profile to another system

Tip: The ImportExportTools addon offers an option to export and import a profile folder.

Before you start with Importing or Exporting tasks, backup your complete ~/.thunderbird profile:

$ cp -R ~/.thunderbird /to/backup/folder/

With migration you just copy your current Thunderbird profile to another PC or a new Thunderbird installation:

1. Install Thunderbird on the target PC

2. Start Thunderbird without doing anything and quit it.

3. Go to your Backup folder of your old Thunderbird installation

4. Enter the backup profile folder:

$ cd /to/backup/folder/.thunderbird/<oldrandomnumber>.default/

5. Copy its content into the target profile folder ~/.thunderbird/<newrandomnumber>.default/

$ cp -R /to/backup/folder/.thunderbird/<oldrandomnumber>.default/* ~/.thunderbird/<newrandomnumber>.default/

Export and Import

Before you start with Importing or Exporting tasks, backup your complete ~/.thunderbird profile:

$ cp -R ~/.thunderbird /to/backup/folder/

If your accounts are broken or you want to join two different Thunderbird installations, you better install one Import and Export AddOn (eg. ImportExportTools AddOn) to both Thunderbird installations and following this just export and import all your data to the new installation.

Change the default sorting order

Thunderbird (up to at least 31.4.0-1) sorts mail by date with the oldest on top without any threading. While this can be changed per folder, it is easier to set a sane default instead as described here.

Set these preferences in the #Config Editor:

mailnews.default_sort_order = 2 (descending)
mailnews.default_view_flags = 1 (Threaded view)

Maildir support

The default message store format is mbox. To enable the use of Maildir, see MozillaWiki:Thunderbird/Maildir. You basically have to set the following preference in the #Config Editor:

mail.serverDefaultStoreContractID = @mozilla.org/msgstore/maildirstore;1

Some limitations up to at least 31.4.0-1: only the "tmp" and "cur" directories are supported. The "new" directory is completely ignored. The read state of mails are stored in a separate ".msf" file, so initially all local mail using Maildir will be marked as unread even when located in the "cur" directory.

Spell checking

Install hunspell and a hunspell language dictionary and restart Thunderbird.

See the Firefox article for how to set the default spell checking language.

Native notifications

Enable mail.biff.use_system_alert in the #Config Editor. This option means that extensions (such as Gnome Integration) are not needed for these newer versions of Thunderbird.

Theming tweaks

Thunderbird should conform to GTK#Themes as defined on your system. However, two tweaks are desirable for full consistency. These are most beneficial for dark themes.

  1. To view the body of emails with colors following your theme:
    1. Go to Preferences
    2. Select the Display tab
    3. Click the Colors button
    4. Check Use system colors
    5. Set the option for Override the colors specified by the content with my selection above to Always or Only with High Contrast themes
  2. To view Lightning calendar with colors following your theme:
    1. Go to Preferences
    2. Select the Calendar tab
    3. Check Optimize colors for accessibility

Further customization can be attained by creating and editing a userchrome.css. See Firefox/Tweaks#General user interface CSS settings and Mozillazine's userchrome page.

Troubleshooting

LDAP Segfault

An LDAP clash (Bugzilla#292127) arises on systems configured to use it to fetch user information. A possible workaround consists of renaming the conflicting bundled LDAP library.

Error: Incoming server already exists

It seems Thunderbird (v24) still has that bug which pops up with "Incoming server already exists" if you want to reinstall a previously deleted account with the same account data afterwards. Unfortunately, if you get this error you can now only clean reinstall Thunderbird:

1. Make a backup of your current profile:

$ cp -R ~/.thunderbird /to/backup/folder/

2. Export all you Accounts, Calendar and Feeds via an AddOn like it's written in Export section of this Wiki. 3. Uninstall your current Thunderbird installation

$ pacman -R thunderbird

4. Remove all your data by deleting your current Thunderbird folder rm -R ~/.thunderbird/.

5. Install Thunderbird again:

$ pacman -S thunderbird

6. Create your mail accounts, feeds and calendars (empty).

7. Install the ImportExportTools AddOn

8. Import all your data.

Thunderbird UI freezes when receiving a new message

If Thunderbird is configured to show an alert when a new message arrives, or at launch, the lack of a notification daemon may freeze the interface (white screen) for many seconds. You can solve this issue by disabling alerts or installing a notification server.

LC_TIME environment variable not respected

Thunderbird should use the LC_TIME environment variable for localization, but it might not do so in all contexts. Some problems can be mitigated by setting Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Date and Time Formatting to Regional settings locale, a setting which was introduced in Thunderbird 56. However, there is a bug report for this issue.