Thunderbird:Help Documentation:The Options Window

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The Options window is accesed usually from: (Top menu) windows: Tools/Options mac osx: Edit/Preferences linux: Edit/Preferences

This window may contain more options, usually under extra tabs, regarding some extensions. Lightning (calendar) does that



System Defaults

Always check to see if Thunderbird is the default mail client on startup 
You can make Thunderbird check to see if it is registered as your system default mail program, whenever it starts up. When Thunderbird is your default mail program, mail links from other programs, such as your web browser, will open in Thunderbird. Click on Check Now to have Thunderbird specifically check to see if it the default program for mail, news, web feed (RSS), or a combination of the three.

Thunderbird Start Page

When Thunderbird launches, show the Start Page in the message area 
When you start Thunderbird, there is a welcome page, that is displayed in the message pane. Using this option, you can disable the start page, or set it to go to any web page you choose, by entering the URL in the Location field. If you want to restore the default start page, click on Restore Default.

When new messages arrive

You can set Thunderbird to alert you, in different ways, when new messages arrive.

Show an alert 
With this check marked, an alert will pop up in the bottom right of your screen, telling you that you have new messages, as well as provide info, such as which account(s) have new messages, how many new messages there are, and more, which you can set by clicking on Customize....
Play a sound 
Thunderbird can also trigger a sound file, to play when a new message arrives
Default system sound for new mail 
With this option selected, Thunderbird will use the new mail alert sound, as designated in your operating system's setting.
Use the following sound file 
With this option selected, you can choose a specific audio file (WAV on Windows/Linux, any QuickTime compatible format on the Mac) that will play when new messages arrive. Press Browse... to pick a file on your computer; and press Play to hear the chosen file.


(the Customize New Mail Alert feature is not available on the Macintosh)

Message Preview Text 
This will make new mail alerts contain a sample of the text in the new messages.
This will make new mail alerts show the subject of each new message.
This will make new mail alerts show the sender of each new message.




When displaying messages, use the following colors
These two color pickers allow you to choose the text and background colors that your messages will be displayed in by default. HTML or formatted messages may override these colors.
Plain Text Messages
Display emoticons as graphics
Emoticons are combinations of punctuation symbols (:-) is a smile, sideways, that expresses happiness). If this box is checked, Thunderbird will display small smiley-face type graphics in your emails instead of the symbols.
Use the following font
Select whether your plain-text email messages (emails that are not HTML or otherwise formatted) are shown in fixed-width or variable-width font.
When displaying quoted plain text messages
Quoted text in a message is text that is being replied to, and is usually set off from the left margin by the > character or a vertical bar. This preference allows you to change the font style, size, and color of quoted text that Thunderbird is displaying in plain text messages.
Fonts & Encoding




Generally on tags
Tags are a very powerful form of marking messages that can be used to categorize, prioritize and further organize your mail adding another level of managing and viewing data in a custom way. They resemble the tags found in most of the blogs, feeds and other articles on the web today an working just as those do.

Note that they are not priorities (link..) and they are only usable inside Thunderbird/Mozilla now, not to think of tags on the web or on the vista or other operating system, not even compatible with mail or webmail ones (this is a matter of standards not set..)

Messages can be tagged with one or more tags. Also note that tags are cross folder and cross account, they are the same across the entire Thunderbird and can be managed here, in the options.
Tag can be applied through main menu (...), contextual menu, tag button (...), message filters (...)and then use them as sorter (...), visual indicator (color), in searches (...), in views, in custom views (...). Some may use tags in combination with folders, virtual folders and other organizing elements or even replace the need to have many folders and subfolders by simply tagging the respective mail. This is a matter of choice in terms of organizing mail (link here?)

[this is a large description most likely to go to a 'tag' or 'using tags' or 'organizing mail' page. if not, will do here..]

Manage tags
Thunderbird proposes 5 tags by default, Important, Work, Personal, To do, Later, but one may add or change them to suite specific needs (i.e. Mozilla, school, Mary and so on).

One may Add a new tag, Edit an existing one or Delete a tag.

Add button is creating a new tag, always after the ones in list
Edit changes the properties of a tag, the name and the color. To change a specific one, click the tag in list to select it and press edit
Delete does just that to the currently selected tag

Note that:

  • there cannot be two tags with the same name
  • the order is not editable at this point
  • the order is important as the color of a message shows the topmost tag applied (if more than one)in respect to this list.

For more on tags, see .....


Here you can set the way Thunderbird behaves when writing and sending messages.



Forward messages
This option tells how the original message will be treated when forwarding:
  • As attachment - it will attach the original message to the new email you compose
  • Inline - it inserts the original message inside the text of the new email
Auto save every [x] minutes
Set a period of time to auto save the new message while composing it. It will save it to the drafts folder under the respective account by default or as specified in the Account settings/account/Copies and folders if that has been changed manually.
For messages ..
Confirm when using keyboard shortcut to send message
This will pop a confirmation alert when sending the message by keyboard shortcut. It is by default checked and is intended to avoid accidental sending by hitting a key.
Wrap plain text messages at [72] characters
when composing in HTML (see html vs plain text), here are the default settings for the text to use.
Allows you to choose variable or fixed width (link), a font family(?) or from a list of available fonts on the system.
Allows you to choose from a list of relative sizes, from x-small to xx-large.
Text color
Choose a color for the text.
Background color
Choose a background color for the whole page (not individual text).
Restore Defaults
Will restore the original settings. These are: Font:variable width, size:medium, black text on white background.
Configure text format behavior /Send Options button

here you can set the behavior in regard to html vs plain text formatting considering the preference for one or the other of some contacts (persons) or domains tb2-opt_sendformat.png

Text format
Html Domains
this considers Html as preferred format for the domains listed. This means that if you add "" there, it applies to mails like (?)
Plain Text Domains

This is the same, but for the domains to be treated with Plain Text formatting






Check spelling before sending
This option tells Thunderbird to open the spell check dialog before the email is sent if there may be misspelled words. The spell check dialog will suggest possible spellings for words that may be misspelled and also give you the option to add the word to you dictionary or ignore the word.
Enable spell-check as you type
When ticked, Thunderbird will check your spelling as you type, highlighting words that may be misspelled. If you right-click on a highlighted word, Thunderbird will attempt to suggest possible spellings for that word and also give you the option to add the word to your dictionary or ignore the word.
Lists the dictionaries that you have installed and allows you to select which one to use.
Download More Dictionaries
This link opens a page on where you can download additional dictionaries for use with Thunderbird.
To install a dictionary in Thunderbird you need to save the dictionary to your hard drive first. For example in Firefox you would right-click on the Install link and selecting "Save Link As...". Then in Thunderbird open Add-Ons from the Tools menu and use the Install button in the bottom left corner of the Add-ons dialog to install the dictionary.




E-mail Scams








Here you can establish the behavior regarding attachments in received mail.

Ask where to save every file
If checked, every time you save an attachment or several ones, will pop a window for you to specify the location in the file system. Opposed to the below one.
Save all attachments to this folder
If checked, all attachments will be saved in the specified location, as opposed to the above. You can manually type the path for the target folder in the next field or look for it with the Browse button.
View & Edit Actions
Whenever you open an attachment in an email, Thunderbird asks you whether to "Open with" a particular application or "Save to Disk". It also gives you the option to tell it "Do this automatically for files like this from now on."
Each time you select "Do this automatically..." a Download Action is created.
The "View & Edit Actions" button opens a window with a list of the Download Actions that you have created, and allows you to Change or Remove them.




Show only display name for people in my address book
Show only the display name (typically the person's name) instead of both their display name and their email address in the addresses section of the Compose window. This applies only for people who have entries in your personal address book.
Wait (x) seconds before marking a message as read
When you advance the selection to a message, Thunderbird will wait the specified number of seconds before actually changing the status of the message to read (as opposed to unread). This can be useful if you use the keyboard to navigate and don't want Thunderbird to instantly set a message to read as you've scrolled past it, or if you like to briefly glance at messages but still leave them "unread" until you spend a longer amount of time looking them over.
Remember the last selected message
Show expanded columns in the folder pane
Open new messages in
When you open new messages in a separate window, this preference will make Thunderbird either keep opening new windows for each message you read in a separate window, or reuse the same window for each message.
Determine how Thunderbird handles return receipts
Opens another dialog that allows you to set how Thunderbird deals with return reicepts - acknowledgement emails from the recipient that they have recieved your email.
Advanced Configuration - Config Editor
The Config Editor window shows you a listing of all the individual preferences available within Thunderbird. From within the Config Editor you may directly edit these preferences. Some of these preferences are not exposed through the Options dialog panels. Some preferences may require that you restart Thunderbird in order to take effect. Warning: This is for advanced users only and Thunderbird will not tell you if you have entered an incorrect value for a particular preference. Strange behavior could result from incorrect preference settings.


When sending messages, always request a return receipt
Request a return reciept with every outgoing message you send. Mostly for business purposes or settings. Note that this does not mean that you will always recieve one back - it is up to the recipient to return the reciept. Most email programs give you a choice of returning them. Constant requests for one might dimish your chances of recieving them.
When a receipt arrives
When you receive a return receipt acknowledgment, Thunderbird will place it in either your Inbox or your Sent folder, depending on this preference.
When I receive a request for a return receipt
This preference allows for some automation when your receive a request for a return receipt. The first option allows you to ignore all such requests.
The second option gives you some flexibility in setting rules for returning them based on some criteria. In all three rules, you may choose to always send, never send, or have Thunderbird ask you whether to send the return receipt back to the sender. The first rule will check if you are the TO or CC recipient of the email in question. The second rule will check if the sender is outside your domain (meaning your email address domain, for example if your email address is, your domain is The third rule will handle all other cases.

Network & Disk Space






Automatically check for updates to...
You can have Thunderbird check at startup whether there are any updates available to Thunderbird itself and/or add-ons that you have installed.
When updates to Thunderbird are found...
Thunderbird can download and install updates itself, or it can prompt you to ask whether you want it to install now or later. Thunderbird can also let you know whether installing an update to the application will disable any add-ons.
Show Update History
Displays a list of all the updates that have already been installed.