Getting started with Thunderbird

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

  • The best tutorial is FLOSS manual on Thunderbird. It was a collaborative effort by FLOSS Manuals and Mozilla, originally written for Thunderbird 3.1. It hasn't been updated to reflect all of the user interface changes, but the basics haven't changed, and it covers more features than any other references. Introduction to Thunderbird is another good tutorial, based on Thunderbird 17.0.
  • The default settings disable the Menu Bar and Folder Pane toolbar. The "hamburger" button (its a button that looks like a stack of three short horizontal lines, near the upper right corner of the main window) to a large extent replaces the Menu Bar. Pressing ALT key or F10 temporarily enables the menu bar. You can then use View -> Toolbars to enable the the Menu Bar. If you ask for help in the forums most people will assume that you enabled those toolbars since they're more convenient than the hamburger button, even though it takes a additional space.
  • The "Get a new account" button in the new account wizard is badly named. Normally you only use it if you wanted to buy an account, but few people do. If you accidentally press it, press the "Skip this and use my existing mail" button at the bottom. Most users already have a account with a email provider, and just want to configure Thunderbird to use it. If you have an existing account fill in "Your name", "Email Address, and "Password" and then press the Continue button.
  • The new account wizard is an attempt to make it easier to add an account for most users. However, if your email provider is not listed in the Mozilla ISP database Thunderbird might make poor guesses for security or authentication settings. If you have problems adding an account press the Advanced Configuration button on the second pane to see and edit the settings it uses. Typically you want to replace auto-detect with "SSL/TLS" under Security and "normal password" under Authentication. If that doesn't help either press the Manual Configuration button or install and use the Add Mail Account Manually add-on.
  • If you are using a POP account and want to keep a copy of your messages on the mail server so that they are still accessible via webmail, make certain that there is a checkmark at "Tools -> Account Settings -> AccountName -> Server Settings -> Leave messages on server" before you ever download your mail. It should be set by default if you're using a recent version.
  • Thunderbird supports using POP and IMAP mail servers for fetching/reading new messages. It does not support webmail. If you want to use webmail (or WebDAV or HTTPMail) with Thunderbird you normally need to use an add-on that emulates a POP server. It has to do some type of web scraping (an automated way to read the contents of the screen) to do that, which means it may break if the layout of the web page changes. If that happens you can't use it until an updated version is available. See Using webmail accounts with Thunderbird .
  • Thunderbird doesn't provide any way for you to enter the password ahead of time. Instead, when you are prompted for a password there is a checkbox to save the password for the password wizard. If you check that it will automatically enter the password for you next time. If you ever need to change your email providers password you have to do that using webmail (a browser). Thunderbird only saves a copy of the password for it's own use, it has no way to change what password your account is supposed to use. After you change your email provider's password delete the saved password using Tools -> Options -> Security -> Passwords -> Saved passwords, exit and restart Thunderbird, and check the checkbox again the next time you are prompted for a password.
  • Email scam detection does not learn when you click the "Not a scam" button, and adding a sender to your address book does not white list them. It is too flawed and incomplete to be useful. It is recommended that you disable it using Tools -> Options -> Security -> Email Scams.
  • A lot of Thunderbird's functionality is not built-in, and is available though add-ons. The main locations are Thunderbird Add-ons (official site) and Kaosmos (personal web site of somebody who has developed many add-ons).
  • When you install an add-on it checks a maximum version field to see if it supports the current version of Thunderbird. To avoid problems Thunderbird makes an add-on compatible by default if it supports at least version 10, isn't a binary add-on like Lightning or the add-on author explicitly stated they don't want to support that feature.

    If you want to use an add-on that doesn't support at least Thunderbird 10.0 install the Disable Add-on Compatibility Checks add-on. It disables version checking. Frequently that will let you use the add-on if it supported at least version 3.0. If the add-on doesn't work uninstall it. If you can't uninstall it, use "help -> restart Thunderbird with add-ons disabled", and then uninstall the add-on. If the add-on works, ignore the warning in the add-on manager about it not being compatible with that version of Thunderbird, it is just complaining that you ignored the maximum version field.

See also

External links

  • Security in a box guide to installing Thunderbird and the Enigmail extension (OpenPGP).
  • How email works (collection of useful articles on e-mail use and hacking)