Protect your Thunderbird passwords with a Master Password

Thunderbird can save passwords for each account, so you don't have to re-enter them when you check for new messages. You can view them and remove the ones you don't use anymore.

What if you share a computer, and don't want others to see your stored passwords? With the master password feature, Thunderbird will require you to enter a master password in order to view or use the passwords you've told Thunderbird to remember. When you have a master password set, you'll only need to enter it once per session.

Want to prevent others from seeing your messages? The best secure method if you share a computer, is to create a separate WindowsMacOSOS user account on the operating system for each person, and make sure your WindowsMacOSOS account requires a password. Thunderbird stores accounts, messages and password information separately for each operating system account. A weaker method is to change the hidden preference mail.password_protect_local_cache in the Config Editor to True. This will prevent the display of email until the master password is entered. It does not however do anything about your mail being stored on the hard disk as a plain text file. Using an operating system account does address that.

ef5f631b4f4f00424fd9f2a09ddaeb4e-1290640828-218-2.png

Defining a master password

By default, Thunderbird does not use a master password to protect stored credentials. To define a master password:

  1. At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Tools menu and select OptionsIn the menu bar, click the Thunderbird menu and select PreferencesAt the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Edit menu and select Preferences, or click the menu button New Fx Menu fx57menu and choose OptionsPreferences.
  2. Select the Security panel.
  3. Select the Passwords tab.
  4. Put a check mark next to Use a master password.

    Create_Master_Password-Mac
    Create_Master_Password-Mac
    ef5f631b4f4f00424fd9f2a09ddaeb4e-1290640828-218-3.png
  5. The Change Master Password dialog will appear. As you enter your master password, the password quality meter will indicate the difficulty of guessing the password. Here are some tips for creating better passwords:
    • Use at least one capital letter.
    • Use one or more digits.
    • Use at least one non-alphanumeric character, such as: @ # $ % ^ & * ( ).
    • Also, remember to make your password something that is easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess to ensure that you, and only you, will be able to retrieve this secure information.
  6. The password must be entered twice to confirm that you can enter it consistently.

    Choose_Master_Password-Mac
    Choose_Master_Password-Mac
    ef5f631b4f4f00424fd9f2a09ddaeb4e-1290640828-218-1.png
  7. To set the master password, click OK.

Now that your master password is set, Thunderbird will prompt you to enter it the first time you need to view or use a password per session.

Changing the master password

  1. At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Tools menu and select OptionsIn the menu bar, click the Thunderbird menu and select PreferencesAt the top of the Thunderbird window, click the Edit menu and select Preferences, or click the menu button New Fx Menu fx57menu and choose OptionsPreferences.
  2. Select the Security panel.
  3. Select the Passwords tab.
  4. Click Change Master Password.
  5. Enter the current master password to confirm you are authorized to change it.
  6. Enter the new master password twice.
  7. Click OK.

Removing your master password

Follow the steps above to change the password, but leave both of the new master password fields empty.

Removing your master password if the master password has been forgotten

If you've forgotten your master password you can reset it.

Warning: This will remove all of your saved usernames and passwords.
  1. Choose Tools -> Developer Tools -> Error Console.
  2. Copy and paste the relevance text as shown below. The choice is determined by the version you are using.

If using a version prior to 78*:
Copy and Paste all of the following text:
openDialog("chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xul")

If using version 78* or later:
Copy and Paste all of the following text:
openDialog("chrome://pippki/content/resetpassword.xhtml")

3. Press the Evaluate button. If you do not see an 'Evaluate' button, Press the 'Return/Enter' key on keyboard.
4. When prompted with the confirmation dialog box, click on 'Reset' button.

TB68_Reset_Master_Password_Win

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