Hyperlinks in Messages Not Working

Revision Information
  • Revision id: 83376
  • Created:
  • Creator: WoodBTech
  • Comment: Added another possible source of the problem and the fix for it.
  • Reviewed: No
  • Ready for localization: No
Revision Source
Revision Content

Check settings for Thunderbird network.protocol-handler

Open Thunderbird, navigate to options /general / open config editor (button)/. Paste this in the search bar: network.protocol-handler.warn-external

Then change any FALSE value in these settings from false to TRUE:

network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http network.protocol-handler.warn-external.ftp network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https

close config editor close Thunderbird

Re-open Tunderbird Find an email that has a web link (URL) in the body and click on it. You may get a mini-window asking what program should be used to open the link. If you're using FIREFOX, for example, navigate to your firefox.exe file and (double?) click it.

It will then open the web page. Signed- WoodBTech

Problems with composing messages

Unlike some other email programs, Thunderbird does not create a clickable link when you are composing a message and add a hyperlink. If you use the Insert | Link... command, the link is formatted as a link (underlined and colored), but if you click it nothing happens. If you paste or type a link into the body of a message it appears in the text of the message without any indication that it is a link.

This behavior is deliberate. When links are "activated", they are difficult to edit (because when you try to position the cursor within an active link you usually launch the link in the browser).

When a message is sent (or saved as a draft), Thunderbird "activates" links in the message, adding formatting as necessary and making them clickable hyperlinks.

Problems with received or saved mails

When you click a hyperlink in a message, your system's default web browser should open (if it is not already running) and display the link. If that doesn't happen, there are several possible causes.

Check that the operating system's default browser is specified

Every operating system allows the specification of a default browser that will be launched (for example) when a hyperlink in a message is clicked. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers check this setting by default when they start up and prompt you to set them as the default. Sometimes, however, this setting goes awry and your computer forgets which browser is the default. To fix this problem, you need to reset the default browser on your system.


In Firefox, select Tools | Options (Windows) or Firefox | Preferences (Mac and Linux). Select the Advanced panel. On the General tab, make sure the "Always check to see if Firefox is the default browser on startup" box is checked, and then click the Check Now button. Restart Firefox and then restart Thunderbird.

Internet Explorer under XP (it may differ on other Windows versions)

On the Control Panel, select the Internet option. Select the programs tab. In the middle of the page there will be options to turn the browser checking on and off.

Check that no application is specified for the HTTP content type

In Thunderbird you can specify an action that occurs when you click on various types of attachments and inline content. If the action for the HTTP / HTTPS content type is set incorrectly, this will prevent links from opening correctly.

If the operating system's default browser is specified correctly as described above, it is not necessary to specify an action for the HTTP / HTTPS content type. To check this setting, select Tools | Options (Windows) or Thunderbird | Preferences (Mac and Linux). Click on the Attachments page. If HTTP and/or HTTPS are listed in the Content Type column, either delete the action or ensure the specified action is correct.

Check for an incorrect preference

In some circumstances a normally hidden preference gets changed resulting in Thunderbird trying to handle these links internally. One of these circumstances appears to be after you uninstall the ThunderBrowse add-on, although the upgrade process to V5 appears to have caused it for some people as well. To check if this might be the cause, open the trouble shooting information in the Help menu and under the heading of modified preferences look for a preference network.protocol-handler.external-default. If this is present and set to false then this is your problem.

To correct this setting, select Tools | Options (Windows) or Thunderbird | Preferences (Mac and Linux). Click on the Advanced page. Select the Config Editor button and click the 'I will be careful, I promise' button.

Type network.protocol-handler.external-default, or enough of it that you can see it appear in the list below. Select the entry in the list, right-click it and select the reset option from the menu that appears.

Check for interference from an extension

It is time to look for an extension that may be causing some unwanted behavior. Run Thunderbird in Thunderbird Safe Mode. If you can click on hyperlinks in Thunderbird Safe Mode but not in normal mode, your problem is probably being caused by an add-on (also known as an extension).

Next try the Standard Diagnostics.

If you still have a problem, go to Get Satisfaction and ask about what could be the cause of the problem.

Before you post in Get Satisfaction read this and be sure to say exactly what you have done already to diagnose the problem.