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Thunderbird Tips, Tricks, & Features

Thunderbird is an e-mail client with many great features, but sometimes the trick is knowing where to find the settings. The following is a list of some of our most requested tweaks. If you'd like help with a customization that is not on the list, please do not hesitate to contact the Help Desk at x8847 and we will be happy to assist you.

Adding a signature

Adding a signature in Thunderbird 3 is easy! (If you are still using version 2, first download and install the update otherwise these instructions will not make sense.)

In the top menu, click on Tools -> Account Settings... By default, you will open to the main Account Settings window. Look for the box that says Signature text. Type in what you would like your signature to say. Click OK. Now when you compose a new message in Thunderbird, your signature will automatically be attached to every message!

Thunderbird Signature


What if I need to have multiple signatures?

If you have multiple roles at work, and frequently need to switch between signatures on a single e-mail account, consider trying the Signature Switch Add-on for Thunderbird.*


Automatically filling in the

If most of the e-mails you send are to people at UMD, it is handy not to have to type the each time you send a message to someone new. This feature exists in Thunderbird, but is not on by default. To activate it, please do the following:

Windows: Tools menu -> Options

Mac: Thunderbird menu -> Preferences

  1. Click on Advanced in the top right of the window that opens, then make sure you are on the General tab in the advanced section.
  2. Near the bottom of the window, click on the Config Editor... button. This will open another window with a long list.
  3. If you get a "This might void your warranty!" screen, click "I'll be careful, I promise!"
  4. At the top, you will see a Filter: Type the word domain and hit enter. This will narrow the list down.
  5. At the top of the list, you will see a preference named mail.identity.default.autocompleteToMyDomain The value will be set to false.
  6. Double-click false so that it changes to true.
  7. You can then close out the windows until you are back to the main Thunderbird screen.

Now when you compose a message and start typing in an address, you will have the option to tab complete the domain

Screensot of domain filter


Placing your Reply at the top of a message

Many people prefer their replies to be at the top of a message and above the quoted text. To make this your default, go to the Tools menu -> Account Settings... On the left-hand side, click on Composition & Addressing. Then, on the right-hand side, look for the drop down menu that reads start my reply below the quote and switch it to above the quote. Click OK.

Screenshot of reply setting


Increasing your font size

If you would like the default font size for viewing your messages to be larger, please take the following steps:

Windows: Tools menu -> Options

Mac: Thunderbird menu -> Preferences

Click on Display along the top of the window that opens. Make sure the Formatting tab is selected. Near the bottom of the window, click on the Advanced button. Near the middle of the window that opens, you will see a drop down menu for Minimum font size: The default is None. Select the minimum size you would like to use, and click OK till you are back at the main Thunderbird screen.

Note: If you would like to increase the font size for the general Thunderbird interface (message list, mailbox list) we ask that you please contact the Help Desk at x8847 for help with a solution.

Screenshot for minimum font size


Selecting columns to display

If you would like to add or remove columns from the message list, click on the small column icon icon located furthest to the right in the column header row, directly above the scroll bar. To sort your message list, click on the column header you wish to sort by. For example, click on Date to sort the list by date, or click on Sender to sort the list alphabetically by the names of people who have sent you e-mails.



Copy to sent folder options

By default, Thunderbird will copy all of your outgoing messages to a sent folder. However, some users like having more control over the process, and like the ability to be able to select the folder each sent message copies to, or choose not to save a copy at all. If you are looking for this feature, check out the Copy Sent to Current Add-on.*


E-mail templates or form letters

Do you find yourself sending the same messages over and over again? Rather than retyping it each time, save yourself the effort. One easy way to do this is to save your message as a template. In the open message window, choose File -> Save As -> Template. Your message will then automatically be saved in a folder called Templates that you can access at any time.

If you would like more advanced options, you may want to try the Quicktext Add-on* which allow you to use variables such as [[TO=firstname]] to personalize your emails. You can also specify a subject and which attachments to add, as well as a host of other features.


LDAP configuration

If you would like to give Thunderbird the ability to search for e-mail addresses within the entire university system, you will need to configure LDAP.

Windows LDAP instructions

Mac LDAP instructions


Backing up your settings

Got things just the way you like them? Better backup! Windows users can download and install the MozBackup utility which makes backing up settings simple. A backup will allow you to quickly restore your settings should something go wrong with your computer in the future. MozBackup can also be used to transfer your settings to a second computer.


*An important note about Add-ons

One of the things that makes Thunderbird the e-mail client of choice for so many people is the ability to customize and add features to the program through the use of Add-ons. However, because Add-ons are developed by third-parties, they are not always reliable. Updates to Thunderbird may cause Add-ons to stop working, and developers are not always quick to fix the problem.

The Add-ons suggested on this page are highly rated with good track records, but neither Mozilla (the group that makes Thunderbird) nor ITSS have any control over them. We list them here because we believe that they will continue to function well into the future, but we have no guarantees. With that in mind, we ask that you keep your customizations of Thunderbird to a minimum, and only "Add-on" the features you feel you absolutely need. This will help ensure that your satisfaction with Thunderbird and the support you receive is the best that it can be.

We appreciate the effort everyone has put into switching from Mulberry to a more modern e-mail client, and hope that you find the overall experience to be positive. If at any time you have questions or would like assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the ITSS Help Desk at x8847 or stop by the Tech Center in Kirby Plaza 165. We will be glad to work with you.





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Last modified on 09/09/10 03:04 PM
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