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Author: Ben Bucksch. Please do not change this doc without checking with the author.

This page is the authorative specification of the config file that the Mozilla ISPDB and config services at ISPs return.

It is XML, with a clearly defined format, to be stable and usable by other mail clients, too. Update Aug 2010: In fact, Evolution and KMail and Kontact now use it, too.



<?xml version="1.0"?>
<clientConfig version="1.1">
    <emailProvider id="">

      <displayName>Google Mail</displayName>

      <!-- type=
           "imap": IMAP
           "pop3": POP3
      <incomingServer type="pop3">
           <!-- "plain": no encryption
                "SSL": SSL 3 or TLS 1 on SSL-specific port
                "STARTTLS": on normal plain port and mandatory upgrade to TLS via STARTTLS
            <!-- Authentication methods:
                          Send password in the clear
                          (dangerous, if SSL isn't used either).
                          AUTH PLAIN, LOGIN or protocol-native login.
                           A secure encrypted password mechanism.
                           Can be CRAM-MD5 or DIGEST-MD5. Not NTLM.
                           Use NTLM (or NTLMv2 or successors),
                           the Windows login mechanism.
                           Use Kerberos / GSSAPI,
                           a single-signon mechanism used for big sites.
                           The server recognizes this user based on the IP address.
                           No authentication needed, the server will require no username nor password.
                           On the SSL/TLS layer, the server requests a client certificate and the client sends one (possibly after letting the user select/confirm one), if available. (Not yet supported by Thunderbird)
                           OAuth2. Works only on specific hardcoded servers, please see below. Should be added only as second alternative.
                           No authentication
            <!-- remove the following and leave to client/user? -->
            <!-- only for servers which don't allow checks more often -->
            <checkInterval minutes="15"/><!-- not yet supported -->
         <password>optional: the user's password</password>

      <outgoingServer type="smtp">
         <socketType>STARTTLS</socketType> <!-- see <incomingServer> -->
         <username>%EMAILLOCALPART%</username> <!-- if smtp-auth -->
            <!-- smtp-auth (RFC 2554, 4954) or other auth mechanism.
                 For values, see incoming.
                 Additional options here:
                     authenticate to incoming mail server first
                     before contacting the smtp server.
                  Compatibility note: Thunderbird 3.0 accepts only "plain",
                  "secure", "none", and "smtp-after-pop".
                  It will ignore the whole XML file, if other values are given.
            <!-- If the server makes some additional requirements beyond
                 "client-IP-address": The server is only reachable or works,
                     if the user is in a certain IP network, e.g.
                     the dialed into the ISP's network (DSL, cable, modem) or
                     connected to a company network.
                     Note: <authentication>client-IP-address</>
                     means that you may use the server without any auth.
                     <authentication>password-cleartext</> *and*
                     <restriction>client-IP-address</> means that you need to
                     be in the correct IP network *and* (should) authenticate.
                     Servers which do that are highly discouraged and
                     should be avoided, see {{bug|556267}}.
                Not yet implemented. Spec (element name?) up to change.
         <!-- remove the following and leave to client/user? -->
         <password>optional: the user's password</password>

      <!-- Add this only when users (who already have an account) have to
           do something manually before the account can work with IMAP/POP or SSL.
           Note: Per XML, & (ampersand) needs to be escaped to & a m p ;
           (without spaces).
           Not yet implemented, see bug 586364. -->
         <instruction>Check 'Enable IMAP and POP' in Google settings page</instruction>
         <instruction lang="de">Schalten Sie 'IMAP und POP aktivieren' auf der Google Einstellungs-Seite an</instruction>

      <!-- A page where the ISP describes the configuration.
           This is purely informational and currently mainly for
           maintenance of the files and not used by the client at all.
           Note that we do not necessarily use exactly the config suggested
           by the ISP, e.g. when they don't recommend SSL, but it's available,
           we will configure SSL.
           The text content should contains a description in the native
           language of the ISP (customers), and a short English description,
           mostly for us.
      <documentation url="">
         <descr lang="en">Configure Thunderbird 2.0 for IMAP</descr>
         <descr lang="de">Thunderbird 2.0 mit IMAP konfigurieren</descr>


    <!-- Syncronize the user's address book / contacts. Not yet implemented. -->
    <addressBook type="carddav">
         <!-- Authentication methods. See also <incomingServer>.
                        Authenticate to the HTTP server using
                        WWW-Authenticate: Basic
                        Authenticate to the HTTP server using
                        WWW-Authenticate: Digest
                        OAuth2. Uses the same token as for email.

    <!-- Syncronize the user's calendar. Not yet implemented. -->
    <calendar type="caldav">
      <authentication>http-basic</authentication> <!-- see <addressBook> -->

    <!-- Upload files, allowing the user to share them. Not yet implemented.
         This can be used for Thunderbird's FileLink feature,
         or to set up a file sync folder on the user's desktop. -->
    <fileShare type="webdav">
      <authentication>http-basic</authentication> <!-- see <addressBook> -->

    <!-- This allows to access the webmail service of the provider.
         The URLs are loaded into a standard webbrowser for the user.
         Specifying this is optional. -->
      <!-- Webpage where the user has to log in manually by entering username
           and password himself.
           HTTPS required. -->
      <loginPage url="" />

      <!-- Same as loginAutomaticDOM, but the website makes checks that
           the user comes from the login page. So, open the login page
           in the browser, get the page's DOM, fill out name and password
           fields for the user, and trigger the login button.
           The login button might not be an HTML button, just a div, so
           to trigger it, send a click event to it.
           HTTPS is required for the URL. -->
      <loginPageInfo url="">
        <!-- What to fill into the usernameField.
             Format is the same as for <username> within <incomingServer>,
             including placeholders. See below for valid placeholders. -->
        <!-- Allows to find the textfield on the page, to fill it out.
             The id attribute give the DOM ID,
             The name attribute give the DOM name attribute.
             One or both of id and name attributes must exist.
             Try the ID first (e.g. using getElementById()), if existing.
             Otherwise, try finding the element by name.
             Don't treat the IDs given in this XML file as trusted,
             but before using them, verify the format
             (e.g. only characters and digits for IDs).
             If you use powerful functions like jQuery, and the XML returns
             you code in the username ID, and you feed it unchecked to jQuery,
             it may be executed. -->
        <usernameField id="email_field" name="email" />
        <passwordField name="password" />
        <!-- The submit button to trigger the server submit
             after filling in the fields.
             id and name attributes: See <usernameField> -->
        <loginButton id="submit_button" name="login"/>

    <!-- see description. Not yet supported, see bug 564043. -->
    <inputField key="USERNAME" label="Screen name"></inputField>
    <inputField key="GRANDMA" label="Grandma">Elise Bauer</inputField>

    <clientConfigUpdate url="" />


Multiple servers

incomingServer and outgoingServer may appear several times. They are in order of priority, the first entry should generally be used, unless there's a specific factor or policy which prefers a later config.

For example, there may be configs with STARTTLS and normal SSL. Use the first entry listed. If that fails (server config change), you can try the second config. If IMAP and POP3 servers both exist, then both should be listed; the client or end user can select the protocol which best suits its needs. The config/ISP can, however, express a preference for IMAP or POP3 by what is listed first in the config file.


The email address (before @ or with domain) that the user entered can be used as placeholder in the config file, so the file is the same for all users (i.e. static).


  •  %EMAILADDRESS% (full email address of the user, usually entered by the user)
  •  %EMAILLOCALPART% (email address, part before @)
  •  %EMAILDOMAIN% (email address, part after @)
  •  %REALNAME% (needed?)
  • The key (surrounded by %) in <inputfield key=""> (see below)

These placeholders can be used as value or value part in most settings which take a string.

User input fields

(not yet implemented, see bug 564043)

For some ISPs, the IMPA/POP/SMTP username (and maybe other fields) has no relation to the email address and has to be entered separately. E.g. Email address is (chosen by user), but username is G675476 (provided by ISP).

In this case, an <inputfield> can be added for the username. It will let the client show a textfield to the user. The user-visible label is the one provided in the <inputfield label=""> attribute, to allow the ISP to use custom terminology for "username". The label is not localizable, that would be too complicated and most ISPs are local anyways - if really important, the ISP config server can look at the HTTP headers during the fetch.

The text that the user entered is written into a placeholder %KEY%, where KEY is the content of the <inputfield key="KEY"> attribute and must be only upper case letters. The placeholder can then be used in other settings, see #Placeholders above.

For example, a config file entry

        <userinput label="Username" key="%USERNAME%">D123456</userinput>

would result in a UI like:

  Username:     [             ] example: D123456

and cound be used elsewhere in the config file like:


and if the user enters "D32198", it would be automatically filled in like:


i.e. using D32198 as username for IMAP, POP or SMTP.

The system is generic, so that it can in theory be used for other values as well. No other such purpose is currently known, apart from a separate POP and SMTP username maybe. It should not be used to let the user supply hostnames, as that would defeat the purpose of the autoconfig and be worse than the manual config UI provided by the client.


Due to a defficiency in the OAuth2 spec, the client is usually required to send a client credential key, which in turn requires the client to be registered and approved by the email provider. Unfortunately, this not only allows email providers to block specific email clients (which is contrary to the idea of Open-Source), but also makes it impossible to support arbitrary OAuth2 servers. That's why Thunderbird is forced to hardcode the servers that it supports and the respecive client keys. That means that you cannot use OAuth2 for your own server. Only the servers listed on OAuth2Providers.jsm will work.

A server using OAuth2 auth looks this:

    <incomingServer type="imap">


Note that the `<oAuth2>` contents are not yet supported by Thunderbird. They are planned to be supported later, removing the need to hardcode these parameters. As of today, `<authentication>OAuth2</authentication>` is supported.

Note that there are two `<authentication>` elements. This allows a fallback, in case a client does not support OAuth2 or does not have a client key for this OAuth2 issuer and therefore cannot authenticate with this issuer.

Scope: If we set up email, address book, calendar, and webdav, we do *not* want the user go have to go through 4 authentication processes. Yet, a provider might use different scopes for email and calendar, and that is in line with the OAuth2 spec. The solution is to combine several scopes, using spaces as separator, in a single auth request. The order is important. That's why we deliberately do not make the scope specific to a service or server, but to the entire configuration. We don't want the user to have to authenticate several times in a row. This is a requirement from the end user.


  • Values specific to IMAP, e.g. bug 558659 (special folders), bug 572465 (subfolders) etc.. However, most of these can and should be done as IMAP extensions.
  • All settings and enum values