Protect your Thunderbird passwords with a Primary Password

Thunderbird Thunderbird Last updated: 06/20/2024 37% of users voted this helpful
Primary Password has replaced Master Password. Learn more about why we’ve made this change.

What does the Primary Password protect?

Your primary password protects your saved passwords, but it does not prevent others from seeing your messages in Thunderbird.

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 Primary Password feature, Thunderbird will require you to enter a Primary Password in order to view or use the passwords you've told Thunderbird to remember. When you have a Primary Password set, you'll only need to enter it once per session.


Do you want to prevent others from seeing your messages? If you are sharing a computer, the most secure way 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.

Set a Primary Password

By default, Thunderbird does not use a Primary Password to protect stored credentials. To set a Primary Password:

  1. In the menu bar, click the Thunderbird menu and select Settings.Click the menu button Fx89menuButton and choose Settings.
  2. Select the Privacy & Security section.
  3. Go to the Passwords subsection.
  4. Put a checkmark next to Use a Primary Password.

  5. The Change Primary Password dialog will appear. As you enter your Primary 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: @ # $ % ^ & * ( )
    • Make your Primary Password something that is easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess, to ensure that only you yourself will be able to see your saved passwords.
  6. The password must be entered twice to make sure that you have entered it correctly as intended.

  7. To set your Primary Password, click OK.

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

Change your Primary Password

  1. In the menu bar, click the Thunderbird menu and select Settings.Click the menu button Fx89menuButton and choose Settings.
  2. Select the Privacy & Security section.
  3. Go to the Passwords subsection.
  4. Click the button Change Primary Password.
  5. Enter your current Primary Password to confirm you are authorized to change it.
  6. Enter the new Primary Password twice.
  7. Click OK.

Remove your Primary Password

Follow the steps above to Change your Primary Password, but leave both of the new Primary Password fields empty.

Reset your Primary Password if you have forgotten it

If you've forgotten your Primary Password, you can reset it.

Warning: This will remove all of your saved usernames and passwords.
  1. Press the shortcut keys Ctrl + Shift + J (Command + Shift + J on macOS) to open the error console
  2. Copy the text given below and paste it into the Console. The choice is determined by the version you are using:
    • If using a version prior to 78, copy and paste the following text:
    • If using version 78 or later, copy and paste the following text:
  3. Click the Evaluate button. If you do not see an Evaluate button, press Return or Enter on your keyboard.
  4. When prompted with the confirmation dialog box, click the Reset button.


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