Update an obsolete version of Thunderbird

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

This article describes some of the major issues you may encounter when updating from version or 3.1.20, and how to workaround them. They're in roughly chronological order to make it easier if you don't update to the latest version.

You don't have to use the automated update, you can always download the setup program for a different version from here. See Go back to an old version of Thunderbird for information on how that directory is organized. Uninstalling your old version and installing a new one does not delete your profile (which stores your email, address books, settings, add-ons etc.) but if you're concerned, back it up first using something like Mozbackup. That is a good idea anyways, especially if there is any chance you might discover you dislike the new version and want to re-install the old one.

  • Global search and Tools -> Account Settings -> Synchronization & Storage were added in Thunderbird 3.0. Both have background processes that can use a lot of disk space and make Thunderbird unresponsive until they're done. See Minimize the size of a profile if you want to disable these features.
  • Thunderbird 3.0 added a new account wizard that attempts to lookup or figure out all of the information needed to create an account given your email address and password. If your email provider didn't register that information in the remote database or provide their own configuration server you need to use the Manual Config button (lower left corner of second screen).
  • Auto-complete now uses both the main email address and an additional address. You can't control which one it should suggest first, other than by using that address more often. Eventually that changes the sorting.
  • Thunderbird 3.1 added a optional Quick Filter search bar so that searching the current folder is no longer combined with global searches in the main toolbar. However, there were conflicting keyboard shortcuts for searches. Thunderbird 8.0 remapped the search keyboard shortcuts.
  • Thunderbird 3.1 changed the terminology for server security settings. There is no need to change your settings.
  • Support for Mac OSX 10.4 and the PPC platform (G3, G4, G5) was dropped in Thunderbird 5.0. Support for Windows 2000 and XP SP1 was dropped in Thunderbird 13. See Unsupported operating systems for more information and alternatives.
  • Thunderbird 5.0 changed the default theme. It you are using Vista or Windows 7 and are configured to use a Aero theme (for Windows) it doesn't work well. Some ways to workaround that are to change the Windows theme (or disable transparency), install the NoGlass add-on, install the Personas Plus add-on and then a persona (to change the background) or add code to the optional userChrome.css file in the profile.
  • Thunderbird 5.0 also added support for Direct2D hardware acceleration. This normally increases performance but if you have a poor graphics card it can greatly decrease performance or create fuzzy fonts. The normal workaround is to set gfx.direct2d.disabled true using the config editor. If that doesn't help, try setting layers.acceleration.disabled true. Thunderbird 9.0 changed the default for both settings to true to avoid problems.
  • Thunderbird 6.0 added support for collecting telemetry data on performance. It is disabled by default. Thunderbird 9.0 prompts you to opt-in to collecting and reporting that data. The Test Pilot add-on was automatically installed around that time if you updated Thunderbird. It gathers information on how you use Thunderbird and is not supposed to report anything without your approval, but its safest to just uninstall it. There have also been complaints about that add-on causing Thunderbird performance problems in later versions.
  • Thunderbird 8.0 dropped the â—„â–º arrows used to change the different folder views. Use Folder -> Views instead to do that.
  • Thunderbird 11.0 displays menus below tabs if you are using Vista or Windows 7. This can be worked around either by using a different theme or by adding a code snippet to the optional userChrome.css file in the profile.

See also