Message Tabs

Message tabs is a new feature in Thunderbird 3 that enables messages, folders, search results and even some web content to be displayed in tabs within a single Thunderbird window. Similar to Firefox's tabbed browsing, multiple messages can be displayed without opening multiple Thunderbird message windows.


How to change tab behavior

The message tab behavior depends on a preference setting. Thunderbird gives you the option to make messages open in new tabs, new windows or a existing Thunderbird window. You can change this preference under Tools - Options - Advanced.

Pref for Changing Tab Behavious when opening Messages

By default, when Thunderbird is opened it creates a single tab. This displays all of the mail accounts and folders in a panel on the left, and a message list and selected message on the right. (The messages displayed depend on which folder and message is selected.)

Default Tab Screenshot

Using tabs

When you double-click a message, press Enter when a message is highlighted, or right-click a message in the message list and select Open Message in a New Tab, the message will be displayed in a new tab:

Open Message in a New Tab 2

To open a folder in a tab, right-click the folder and select Open in New Tab. Middle-click a message or folder to open it in a tab in the background (that is, to keep focus on the current tab while opening a new tab that contains the selected item).

When you perform a search, the results are displayed in a tab:

Search Results in a Tab

When you double-click a newsgroup message or a blog post in the message list, the message or post is displayed in a new tab:

Double Click New Tab

Use the Ctrl + Tab (and Ctrl + Shift + Tab) keystrokes to move to the right or left tab respectively. To move to a specific tab, use Ctrl + <number>, where "<number>" is a digit that represents the desired tab's position from left to right. (For example, to jump to the fourth tab from the left, use Ctrl + 4.)

As of Thunderbird 5, you can reposition tabs by clicking and dragging individual tabs into the desired position.

Certain kinds of web content can also be displayed in a tab in Thunderbird. For example, if you select Help | What's New, Thunderbird opens a tab and displays content from the web. However, as a user, you can't select web content to display in a tab - it only happens when the function is invoked from within the Thunderbird program or from within a Thunderbird extension.

To close a tab, either click the close symbol or use the Ctrl + W keyboard shortcut.

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