Creating and using templates
To create a new template and use it as the basis for future messages that you compose:
- Make a new message. Add whatever text and formatting that you want to appear in the template.
- Then, select "File -> Save As -> Template". The message you just created will now be saved as a template in your Templates folder.
- To use this template as the basis for a new mail message, select the Templates folder and then double-click on the template you just saved there. The external template loader extension provides the ability to automaticly load a template based on what identity you're using.
For tips on adding background images (including those from your Outlook Express stationery) to your outgoing messages, see this forum thread.
Replying with templates
Unfortunately, Thunderbird and Mozilla Suite do not have the ability to use templates for manually replying to messages that you've received. In order to reply with a template, you have to compose a new message using the template, as stated above, and paste the recipient's e-mail address into the "To:" field. This is somewhat cumbersome, of course, and moreover if you "reply" in this way the message thread will be broken.
For Thunderbird users, an alternative to replying with templates is to use one of these extensions:
- Quicktext extension: Clipboard manager. Adds a menu in the Compose window from which you can select your own pre-defined text to insert at the current cursor location. Morever, the extension allows you include variables such as sender's/recipient's e-mail address, message subject, and date. See the Quicktext extension homepage for further information.
- Signature extension: Clipboard manager. Similar to but simpler than the Quicktext extension, the Signature extension lets you insert pre-defined text wherever the cursor is located in the message body. Inserts plain-text only and does not allow variables to be used.
- Clippings: Clipboard manager. Supports variables.
- ExternalTemplateLoader: loads an external template for your messages. It can be used when sending, replying and forwarding.
If you want to automatically reply, ie autoreply for "out of office" or similar reasons, you can use templates in a message filter rule.
Note: it is important to set up such an autoreply filter to only reply to people in your address book to avoid spam harvesting.
Numerous bugs and enhancement requests regarding templates have already been filed in Bugzilla, including the following. Please do not file duplicate bugs in Bugzilla or add superfluous "me too" comments to those that already exist, but feel free to vote for those you would like to see fixed/implemented.
- default template for mail composition and replies
- reply with template
- new filter actions: auto reply, forward, bounce
- placeholders / variables in message templates
- Clippings extension. It makes it easier to save and manage frequently-entered text for pasting later on.
- Mail Merge extension.
- Mail Tweak extension. It has a personalize messages option.
- QuickText extension. It provides a way to insert standard text that you have defined based on tags. It also supports variables that access fields in the address book. You can use it with or without Thunderbirds templates.
- The Smart Template extension provides smart and simple templates and the ability to customize the quote header using reserved words in the template.
- The Stationary extension supports templates from Outlook Express and creating watermarks.
- Reply with template bug report (re-opened)